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What is research?
- Exploring the boundaries of the knowledge frontier
- Solving problems
- Testing hypotheses
- Interpreting observations of phenomena or behavior
- Developing 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:
- Working with a team
- of graduate students, other undergrads, possibly high school students
- most often headed by a professor or full-time researcher
- Reviewing and assessing existing documents
- Collaborating across multiple disciplines
- Studying actions, motivations, and interactions
- Engaging in field studies and projects
- Writing about the results that have been discovered
- Presenting work at professional meetings
- Publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals
Favorable outcomes include using the acquired knowledge to:
- Help people
- Improve quality of life
- Find cures for disease
- Answer questions
- Explain phenomena
Why should I do undergraduate research?
- Prepares you for graduate school
- Gives you an edge for medical school or law school
- Sets you apart from your peers
- Challenges you
- Applies your knowledge in an environment outside the classroom
- Provides stipends/funding/scholarship (see below)
When can I start?
- As early as your freshman year, but first consult with your undergraduate advisor
- Optimal 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?
- By 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?
- It depends on your situation. You might be:
- paid by the research professor
- paid 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 details).
- getting academic credit for the research work
- volunteering on the research project order to learn
Do I have to do research in my major?
- Research is not compulsory nor is it for every student
- If you do want to do research, you can do research in your major OR
- There 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 researcher.
- 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!