Student Inquiry and Research (SIR)

Student Research Program

Student Inquiry and Research (SIR) supports student investigations conducted on and off campus. Formalized in and evolving since 1989, the SIR department provides a framework for students to conduct original investigations on compelling questions of interest, collaborate with other students and professional researchers, and share their investigation results through public presentations and publications. Student participation varies slightly each year, but recent trends suggest that about 75% of all IMSA students will conduct at least one investigation during their enrollment at the Academy. For current SIR guidelines, students should email a request to

During the academic year, SIR runs a one-credit, graded course. Students work with research mentors both on and off campus. The projects are designed to last between one and two years. SIR manages the solicitation of projects, recruitment of students, logistics of sending students to research sites, and oversight of projects and student outcomes.

To be eligible for participation in the program, students must have completed their first year at IMSA and be in good academic standing. Inquiry Days (usually Wednesdays) are set aside for students to pursue their research. IMSA provides a variety of unique resources to help facilitate SIR investigations.

The goal of the SIR program is to teach IMSA students how to carry out authentic research. The program intends to instruct students in research methods in a discipline of their interest.

What happens at each stage of research will vary slightly depending on the student’s proposed project and discipline, but students will undertake some version of the following:

  • Phase 1: Getting acquainted with the field
  • Phase 2: Development of research plan
  • Phase 3: Execution of the research
  • Phase 4: Communication of research results

The research mentor and SIR team guide and support students in working through this process.

Research Mentors

IMSA is grateful for the generosity of all professionals who commit seriously to supporting students engaged in research. Mentors interested in working with IMSA students or know of others who might be should contact the SIR office for further information.


IMSAloquium is an annual public event during which IMSA students showcase their work. SIR students present their research, students participating in the Business Internship Program present their experience, and students doing independent studies and other innovative work are also invited to contribute. The event also features a keynote speech and brief comments from members of the IMSA staff. Parents, research mentors, IMSA staff, students, and outside visitors are welcome.

Abstracts from past years are available on DigitalCommons.

Recent SIR News