Everything You Need to Know About Undergraduate Research
Updated: May 18, 2022
For those of you well-versed in cramming last minute papers consisting of following citation styles, forming arguments in a thesis, and collecting and analyzing evidence throughout high school, I promise, there is purpose for these assignments. One major purpose is so you can be ready to undertake undergraduate research. Undergraduate research is a thorough investigation, inquiry, or exploration of a topic within a specific subject area conducted in your undergraduate years of education. This article will explore the reasons why you should and shouldn’t conduct undergraduate research, as well as outline its many benefits. As a sneak peek, undergraduate research can set you apart, give you valuable experience and skills, and prepare you for the workforce.
A Quick Explanation
Undergraduate research consists of a range of subjects/disciplines
It can be part of your college thesis or a separate initiative, conducted at any time, and can be independent or through research programs.
Undergraduate research can be conducted through holding assistant roles or independently led (with the help of mentors).
Duke University, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences is an example of a university that typically encourages undergraduate research, as well as provides facilities for it.
The Undeniable Benefits
You can gain skills and hands-on experience to prepare for your career or graduate school.
“You could do some sort of research that doesn't even necessarily need to be medical or biology-related, but doing some kind of research before applying to a medical school is highly recommended.” Julian W. spent two years doing clinical research at MGH in Boston. Now, he is a fourth-year medical student at Yale.
Undergraduate research allows you to connect with professors/faculty mentors.
What are faculty mentors?
They are essentially an advisors who to help keep you on track in your research process.
Students gain networking experience through interactions with their mentors.
Faculty mentors can typically write letters of recommendations and offer further opportunities for their mentees.
Undergraduate research can offer academic credit based on the university you attend.
You can develop analysis, communication, and critical thinking skills according to Bekah Zaiser, an undergraduate researcher at the University of Florida.
This research leads to growth because it is not for a grade or based on a syllabus or rubric.
“You have to make your own schedule for studying. No one is going to tell you what to do, so be really prepared to handle your own education.” - Julian W. says this based on his experience in graduate school. Research can help prepare for this change as your education progresses!
Josh Moody, a reporter for college admission topics for U.S. News states that other benefits include that students “develop a professional identity and [connect] connecting to the community in their chosen discipline, [boost] boosting interest in graduate school, [increase] increasing confidence and intercultural competency. Scholars also note that undergraduate research can boost retention and personal satisfaction with a school.”
For more information…
UC Davis provides more reasons on why you should do research, with personal student’s stories and advice.
University of Oregon: Is Undergraduate Research This or That? is a quick video that puts a fun twist on all that research can encompass.
Although undergraduate research provides many benefits, to many, these benefits are not needed or necessary for success in education and the path of pursuing a certain career or lifestyle.
According to Computing Research Association, certain undergraduate research opportunities are not pursued for the following reasons:
So, it is important to remember that undergraduate research’s benefits may not be best fit for a certain career path.
If interested in research, it is also important to consider all aspects of the opportunity, and if it serves to be an effective use of time or provides the benefits you seek.
To learn more about research opportunities based on universities:
Check out this list of universities best known for research projects and resources.
A great place to start is the Student Resources page of the Council on Undergraduate Research!
To initiate research discipline/subject-based:
Here is a guide for those interested in research for Science.
UNC provides examples of undergraduate journals for history here.
The Mathematical Association of America also provides a math research guide!
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