Liberal arts schools tend to be small to medium sized institutions, which means they cannot offer the range and depth of academic disciplines and faculty expertise that one might find at a larger research university. This can pose a problem for students who wish to pursue undergraduate research.

Over the last two years, the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a consortium of some two dozen institutions of liberal arts and sciences in the United States and Canada, has been exploring one possible solution to this problem. While no one member has all the resources of a research university, collectively they do. With the generous support of the Teagle Foundation, COPLAC has probed the
viability of distance-mentored undergraduate research, in which students from one institution conduct research under the supervision of expert faculty at another.