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Undergraduate Research

You can share in a professional researcher's work, learn how to formulate a significant question, evolve a procedure to investigate it, obtain research funding and other resources, gather and examine evidence, follow hunches, detect loopholes, and evaluate and share results with the scientific community.

What is research?

Research is a systematic inquiry that investigates hypotheses, suggests new interpretations of data or texts, and poses new questions for future research to explore.

Research consists of:

  • Asking a question that nobody has asked before;
  • Doing the necessary work to find the answer; and
  • Communicating the knowledge you have acquired to a larger audience.

In practice, research methods vary widely, depending upon the academic discipline's accepted standards, the individual researcher's preferences, or a particular study's needs. Research in science and engineering often involves conducting experiments in the lab or in the field. Research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences may include archival work in the library or on the internet, conducting surveys or in-depth interviews, and a wide range of creative and artistic projects- from costume design to playwriting to curating a fine arts exhibit.

Research is not a solitary activity –but an act of community. As a member of the research community, you are building on the knowledge that others have acquired before you and providing a road map for those who come after you. You are adding to a body of work that will never be complete. Research is an ongoing, collaborative process with no finish line in sight.

Why is research valuable?

Participating in undergraduate research gives you the opportunity to:

  • Work one-on-one with internationally distinguished faculty;
  • Participate in cutting-edge research projects with far-reaching impact;
  • Make significant contributions to a field you care about; and
  • Enhance your competitiveness for graduate or professional school admission or high-level employment.

As a student researcher, you can receive instruction and experience in:

  • Developing and implementing research protocols
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Writing research papers
  • Presenting research findings at scholarly meetings (on-campus, statewide, national)
  • Collaboration with other researchers

Is research right for me?

Identify the type of research you might like to do.

Broadly speaking, research can be divided into 3 categories:

  • Fundamental / Basic: Generally characterized by exploration of the theoretical and performed to further the frontiers of human knowledge.
  • Applied: Generally characterized by experimental investigation with the goal of discovering solutions to specific, existing problems defined in advance by researchers. The results of this type of research can be "applied" or directly realized in some practical application.
  • Clinical: Generally conducted in a clinical setting like a hospital or medical clinic, and focuses on discovering cures for specific human/animal diseases or other health problems. Such research, building upon knowledge gained through basic and applied research, results in treatments and drugs that directly improve human healthcare.

Assess your interest in doing research and determine your goals.

  • Are you interested in a more thorough exploration of a subject you are already familiar with?
  • Are you interested in being introduced to a new subject?
  • What motivates you? Trying what others have never done? Getting to know faculty better? Exploring the real-world by undertaking research with an external organization?
  • What do you hope to gain from the research experience? Do you want to help create new information and knowledge? Practice or develop new skills?
  • Do you want to test your skill sets in a professional setting to determine your likes and dislikes?
  • Are you hoping this experience will help you decide whether to attend graduate or professional school?
  • Do you have time for a 10-15 hour/week commitment? Can you commit during the quarter, multiple quarters, or summer?
  • Do you wish to receive academic credit?
  • Do you want/need a salary/stipend/scholarship?
  • Are you willing to do volunteer work?

Finding Research Opportunities

Getting Started in Research [PDF] is a concise guide with advice on where to find positions, how to find a faculty mentor, inquiring about opportunities and interviewing.

Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) is an online portal where students can find internships, research opportunities, service and global experiences. Create a profile so faculty and employers can contact you.

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Research for Academic Credit

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Undergraduate Research Resources