Is undergraduate research for me?
Whether you are ready for research depends on your willingness to take intellectual risks, your interest level and persistence in pursuing a focused project, and your level of background knowledge. If you are intellectually curious about a topic and are willing to work hard to learn and master knowledge and new skills, then you are probably ready for a research experience. Some majors will require a UGR experience at a specific program stage or only after certain pre-requisites, so be sure to check for your major.
Benefits of doing undergraduate research
Participating in undergraduate research can provide opportunities for you to:
- Work one-on-one with faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers;
- Contribute to the creation of new knowledge;
- Sharpen your critical and analytical thinking skills;
- Complement and extend your classroom learning;
- Enhance your confidence in your abilities;
- Prepare for graduate-level study or a research job; and
- Explore your interests and clarify your career goals.
Some of the greatest benefits of being involved in research are the insights it gives you into:
- The ways you learn best;
- How new knowledge is created;
- What you can accomplish when actively engaging your own research questions; and
- How to effectively collaborate with a team.
Deciding on research
Before getting involved in a research project with a faculty member, consider your goals, interests, and time commitments. Ask yourself:
- What do I hope to gain through a research experience?
- What are my interests?
- What do I know about research in my field?
- How much time can I realistically commit to working on a research project?
- Are there particular skills I need to aid me in my research project?
- Are there courses I should take before doing a particular research project?
- What type of learning environment do I prefer?
Keep in mind that if you are a beginner with few skills, the type of project you can undertake will be limited; however, projects suitable for beginners exist in many disciplines.
Some of the greatest benefits of being involved in research is the insight it gives you on:
- How to learn;
- How new knowledge is created; and
- What you can accomplish when actively engaging your own research questions.
What is the difference between undergraduate research and an internship?
Some internships actually are undergraduate research projects, but in many cases, internships provide valuable work experience without necessarily focusing on an original research question or creative objective. It is this focus on an original scholarly contribution to a discipline that defines an undergraduate research project. An internship is typically done off-campus or at least outside of your department (though terminology sometimes varies among departments). Graduate schools are usually impressed by an undergraduate research experience, especially if it results in a publication or presentation. On the other hand, an internship in many fields may be the best way to get the required experience for a job offer. Just about everyone is impressed by a well-rounded applicant, so many students will try to do both.
Office for Undergraduate Research
Kearns Hall 211F
Director of Undergraduate Research