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What is research?
the boundaries of the knowledge frontier
observations of phenomena or behavior
simulations and models
“If we knew what it is that we were doing, then we would not call it research, would we?
” Albert Einstein
Doing research often entails:
with a team
graduate students, other undergrads, possibly high school students
- most often headed by a professor or full-time
and assessing existing documents
across multiple disciplines
actions, motivations, and interactions
in field studies and projects
about the results that have been discovered
work at professional meetings
articles in peer-reviewed journals
Favorable outcomes include using the
acquired knowledge to:
quality of life
cures for disease
Why should I do undergraduate research?
you for graduate school
you an edge for medical school or law school
you apart from your peers
your knowledge in an environment outside the classroom
stipends/funding/scholarship (see below)
When can I start?
early as your freshman year, but first consult with your undergraduate advisor
time is sophomore year and beyond but this can vary with individual
How do I get involved?
Are you locked into an area or a lab
once you make an initial choice?
no means; you can work out a trial period for assessment of mutual
satisfaction. If you are not happy, you
can always switch to another group.
Do I get paid?
depends on your situation. You might be:
by the research professor
through a program that supports Undergraduate research such as Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), McNair, AURAS, Honors College, National Science Foundation
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (see the section on Programs for
academic credit for the research work
on the research project order to learn
Do I have to do research in my major?
is not compulsory nor is it for every student
you do want to do research, you can do research in your major OR
are many interdisciplinary studies going on in the campus where the
research frequently cuts across various disciplines.
*Tips for contacting a professor:
- Send an e-mail
to request an appointment with a professor and make sure that the professor
confirms the appointment with you.
- Use correct e-mail
etiquette and be sure to address the professor correctly. Take the time to spell his/her name
correctly! Review other tips on how to send emails, correct grammar, and
punctuation. They all matter in creating a positive first impression with a
- Be on time for
your appointment and BE PROFESSIONAL! Remember this is not very
different from a job interview and first impressions are always important!
- Do not go unprepared–
learn about their research and express genuine interest, be prepared (see tips on this in the next section.).
- Make sure to
clarify your professor’s expectations. They vary with the group!