1.13 Independent Research

Independent Research (commonly called a “499” after the old registration number) gives students the opportunity to work closely with a professor on a topic of mutual interest, usually with the goal of the student producing a major or substantial research paper.  Independent Research may be supervised by a member of the faculty (including Emeriti, Visiting Faculty, and Senior Lecturers at the Law School, as well as tenured University of Chicago faculty who maintain permanent offices in the Law School, but excluding Bigelow and other Fellows and Lecturers in Law) who is in full-time residence at the Law School.  Visiting faculty may supervise independent research if they are willing to do so and if they are available to work with students until the independent research is completed, which in many cases will be after their visit has ended.  Lecturers may not supervise independent research without advance approval.  Students who would like to work with a Lecturer on an independent research project must submit a request to the Rules and Petitions Committee (via the Dean of Students) for advance permission to do so.

Additionally, students may only take four independent research credits with the same professor and are limited to six independent research credits total during their time at the Law School.[1]

Please follow these steps to register for a 499:

Some students use the 499 as an opportunity to attempt to “write-on” to a journal.  A student may receive academic credit for a journal submission only if it meets these criteria:

(1)        The work must be entirely original.
(2)        If the student has submitted a Topic Proposal to the journal to determine whether the journal is interested in the topic, the student may not receive any research or editorial assistance from journal staff members while the project is in process without prior approval of the faculty member who will be evaluating the paper. For more details see section 1.19.
(3)        Students may work only with the faculty member during the research and writing stage.
(4)        The paper may be submitted to the journal only after it has been accepted for credit by a faculty member.

Please refer to Section 1.19 (JOURNALS) for a more detailed description of the process of writing onto a journal and the pros and cons of using independent research to “write on.”


[1] J.D./PhD students should discuss this limitation with the Associate Director of Student Affairs.