Research helps you to see the concepts you learn in the classroom applied as you pursue your undergraduate degree. Participation in undergraduate research can help you gain applied experience in your field of interest. Your faculty advisor can help you find opportunities both during your undergraduate program and after graduation; they will be able to write detailed letters of recommendation for graduate or doctoral school.
Enjoy the excitement of exploring the unknown through the participants you will interact with, the conversations you may have, the camaraderie that develops – all of this is part of the main reasons to do undergraduate research and you can receive academic credit by enrolling in an Independent Directed Study.
Do you want to pursue a career in research? Undergraduate research experiences can help you to answer this question. If research is not for you, it is better to find out in your undergraduate program than half-way through your graduate or doctoral school. Many institutions treat their summer undergraduate research program as a recruiting tool for their graduate program. If you are interested in a particular institution, look to see if they have a summer undergraduate research program. It is a great way to try them out and for them to learn about you and your capabilities.
A great misconception about research is that it involves high-tech laboratories that require in-depth skills. The truth of the matter is that research is limitless and has unbelievable freedoms. Psychology faculty conduct research in laboratories in the areas of cognition, neuropsychology and human factors. However, many of our faculty are involved in the community where research is performed in education, with social agencies and even in international venues.
No. Many freshmen and sophomores decide to explore their options by volunteering as subjects for graduate student research. Through this process, they develop an understanding of the types of research being performed and move on to the positions that really interest them during junior and senior year.
Talk with our Academic Peer Counselors or your faculty advisor and allow yourself a nice transition. Get involved in undergraduate research when you’re ready. Check out our volunteer research page for available projects.
The first step involves developing familiarity with your field of interest. Begin by taking classes, such as Experimental Psychology and Lab and a course in your topic area. This will introduce you to the elementary material and to the professor who is involved in the subject. Read on your own and review different articles in your research area. Attend school Chat-n- Chews and speak with faculty. Eventually you will find a faculty member who is conducting research in your field of interest.
Once you’ve proven your interest and commitment, a faculty member in your area of interest can assist you in bringing your project to fruition with enrollment in an Independent Directed Study. Along the way, you’ll have gained an understanding of your project in relation to so much more.
Faculty, graduate and fellow undergraduate students are your best source for identifying research opportunities. Many graduate and faculty research projects are posted on doors throughout the building asking for volunteer participants. Sometimes professors will announce in class that they need help. Look at the research volunteer page on our web site for a current listing of graduate thesis projects and volunteer criteria.
Just like finding an opportunity, you must network to find a faculty supervisor for your project. Your faculty supervisor not only has the commitment to help you learn, he or she will become your mentor. Generally, professors that you’ve had in class are a great place to start. You may also consider asking graduate students which faculty they are conducting research with and consider joining their team. Look throughout the building at the labs for different faculty until you find one in your interest area. And of course, look at the faculty listing on our web site for current research projects, areas of interest and research articles.
Take the initiative! Start by visiting the school's web site. Under Faculty and Staff, you'll find a list of faculty and brief bios. Read about their publications and learn about what they've achieved.
Utilize your student network. Fellow students can be your best resource when it comes to sharing what they find interesting about faculty. You may also get insight regarding who will best match your interests.
The length of time depends on the project and your commitment. When you initially start to consider involvement in undergraduate research, you should consider what level of commitment you are willing to provide. Undergraduate research is a mutual arrangement between you and your sponsoring faculty member. Some students work in excess of twenty hours per week; generally they are working towards an honors thesis or for credit. Students volunteering in a lab may work about two to three hours per week. It is really a decision that you and your faculty supervisor must make. There are varying levels of commitment that will fit into your schedule. You must simply communicate what you want to learn and make sure that you are in control of your time management.
Research should not be pursued for the direct purpose of getting into a graduate or doctoral program. You would miss out on the full undergraduate research experience. Undergraduate research is not a stepping stool. It is not a requirement but rather an opportunity for you to apply the knowledge you have learned. Clearly, pursuit of research will grant you advanced knowledge in your field of interest. More importantly, you will become more knowledgeable about your research skills and personal qualities.
So yes, undergraduate research will help you get into graduate school by identifying your strengths and interests. But no, undergraduate research won't simply get you in because you’ve gone through the motions. Undergraduate research is an invaluable experience that confers understanding more about your area of interest than anything else.
Students leave their research for a variety of reasons, such as change in research interests, not enough time in their schedule, or if the dynamics between their supervisor or lab group just aren’t right. If you feel you can no longer commit to your research for whatever reason, you can stop once you have completed all requirements assigned and possibly switch to something else. There are several resources you could contact to discuss your situation, such as your academic advisor or faculty supervisor for your project. They are there to help you make your transition.