Learn about Undergraduate Research FAQ

Welcome to this Frequently Asked Questions page. Click on questions below and read the answers. After each question is a link to more information with related useful websites and articles.

What kinds of activities are considered to be research?

Is engaging in undergraduate research a good idea for me? 

How can I benefit from doing research?

How can my research be funded?

What kind of research should I do?  

What can my involvement in research do for my future?

How can I find a professor to mentor my research? 

How do I get a research project going? 

Can I join a research project that is already in progress? 

Will I get paid to do research? 

Can I get college credit to do research? 

If I want to do research, what is my first step? 

Can virtual students be involved in research? 

What kinds of activities are considered to be research?

Research is defined differently in each discipline. In psychology,it may involve surveying human test subjects. In biology, it may involve observing how cells react to environmental changes. A ceramics student might experiment to find out which substances can be successfully mixed with clay. History research may involve studying a historical event from a new perspective. Music research may involve composing a new piece of music. Research can be gathering literature on what other people have already researched in the past and finding new applications for the information. Research involves any kind of activity that adds new and valuable insights to afield of study. Typically, undergraduate research is conducted with at least one faculty member who works closely with an individual student or a group of students throughout the process. Link to more information 

Is engaging in undergraduate research a good idea for me?

For those who are ready to take on extra responsibilities and who would like to work more closely with faculty members,research may be a good idea for you. If you want a more impressive resume and a better chance to get into graduate school or getting a job, undergraduate research may be right for you.

While every undergraduate could potentially benefit from engaging in research, some students might not be ready for the responsibility. Researching is not like taking a regular class. Student researchers must meet regularly with their faculty mentors outside of class. They must complete research activities in a timely, professional manner while still maintaining good grades in their classes. Faculty members expect more from the students that do research with them than they do from other students. That requires student researchers to take initiative and work hard to complete projects.

You must have enough time in your schedule and good time management skills. You must be able to follow through on tasks and see them to completion, and you must have an interest in extending your learning beyond what you could get from a classroom experience. If you start a research project but don’t perform well, your faculty mentor can remove you from the project. Being involved in undergraduate research can help you learn what you like and what you don’t like.

 Some considerations include your level of knowledge about a subject, your level of interest in a topic, and what type of learning environment you prefer. You may need to take additional classes before you will have enough knowledge to participate in a certain field. Also, you might have difficulty working consistently on your own or, as many research projects require, working closely in a group with several other students. You may want to talk to your faculty advisor to discuss whether or not you are ready to be involved in research.  Link to more information 

How can I benefit from doing research?

Undergraduates can benefit in many ways from doing research. They can

·     Learn about a certain field of study from personal experience

·     Get hands-on experience that can increase understanding

·     Work closely with a faculty mentor who can guide you through the research process and perhaps help you get started in a           career     

·     Contribute directly to a field of study by doing novel, first-time research

·     Gain scholarly and/or creative skills

·     Learn other useful skills you will need in the workplace, such as being on time and working with a group

·     Discover if you actually like a field of study

·     Contribute to faculty papers that will be published in academic journals

·     Present research findings at university,state-level, or national conferences

·     Put research experience on a resume

·     Have a better chance of getting into graduate school or finding employment

 Many students participating in undergraduate research report higher levels of satisfaction with their education than those who don’t.   Link to more information 

 How can my research be funded?

FHSU provides grant funding to dozens of projects each year in disciplines all across campus. To access these grants, faculty mentors must apply through the URE. External grants, especially for research in science and technology, may also fund undergraduate research. Faculty frequently apply for grants that may include support for undergraduate researchers.

If you come up with your own research project and ask a faculty member to oversee your research, you may be instrumental in planning a project, and you may be able to apply for grant money. Your level of involvement in getting money to fund your project will depend entirely on the particular project and the faculty member’s interests.

Grant money can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the specific project. It can cover the cost of supplies, travel, paying human test subjects for their time, and any number of other expenses. FHSU sometimes provides grant funding for undergraduate researchers directly. See www.fhsu.edu/ure for current announcements, if any.  Link to more information 

What kind of research should I do?

The kind of research you do depends on what you’re interested in. You might have already decided on a major and want to do research in that field. Or you might not have discovered your major yet. In that case, the opportunities are wide open in many disciplines. The important thing is to know what really interests you. Research can be rigorous, taking up a lot of time and requiring a high degree of focus. You want to make sure you are interested enough in a subject to put in the time and effort. Visit faculty websites to get an idea of ongoing projects. Looking at projects that are already going on can help you figure out what is interesting to you.

If you are particularly curious about a certain topic, talk to a faculty member about the possibility of conducting research about it. At the university, almost anything can be researched if you can find the right faculty member to mentor you. While you can certainly join a research project already in progress, you can also get one started on your own. If you’ve got a good project in mind, take the initiative to start it yourself. Link to more information

What can my involvement in research do for my future?

Undergraduate research looks good on a resume, even if you are applying for a job that has nothing to do with the topic of your research. Employers want to know that a person is hard-working and diligent. If they see that you have been part of a successful research project, they will assume that you have learned to be responsible through your participation in research. Also, your faculty mentor can become a professional reference and may write letters of recommendation for you in the future.

If you want to go to graduate school, being involved in research as an undergraduate is especially helpful. Competition for getting into graduate school can be fierce, and those who already have research experience have an advantage over those who don’t. Once you’ve made it into graduate school, you will already know the research process much better than others without experience.   Link to more information 

 How can I find a professor to mentor my research?

Some faculty members actively search for undergraduates to do research with them. They may ask students directly, send out emails to majors, or ask advisors to let students know. If you hear about an opportunity in one of these ways, all you have to do is contact the faculty member to express your interest. The faculty member may want you to fill out an application, or the process may be informal. If you already have a relationship with a faculty member, being accepted may be as simple as a quick conversation.  Even if faculty members haven’t actively searched for a student researcher, they may still like to work with you on projects that they are already engaged in. Asking professors if they know of research opportunities may also lead you in the right direction.

If you want to initiate your own research project, you must be the one who is actively seeking a faculty member to work with you. One way to find a faculty member is to go onto the FHSU website and read faculty profiles. Find faculty members whose interests match yours. Then contact them and propose your idea. Even if the faculty member is too busy to start a new project with you, he or she may direct you to other faculty members that may be willing to start a project with you.   Link to more information 

 How do I get a research project going?

It starts with an idea. You might have something you are curious about or something you would like to try. Would you like to conduct an experiment or review literature about a topic? Do you have a question that starts with the words, “What would happen if I…” If so,and if your idea fits within an academic department on campus, you may be able to start a research project of your own.

To get a project started, you need to find a faculty member will would sponsor your research and mentor you through the process. Finding a faculty mentor might be as simple as talking to a faculty member that you already have a relationship with. If you have taken several classes from one professor who knows you well, you might just stop by his or her office and discuss your idea. If you don’t know any faculty members in the right field, you might need to do some detective work. Research the current faculty members within a department and learn about their research interests. Review their websites to see what they have researched in the past. Then you can send a polite email or stop by to talk in person about your research idea.

 Starting your own research projects takes some initiative, but it can be very rewarding to be able to conduct research that matches your personal interests. Link to more information 

Can I join a research project that is already in progress?

Faculty members are conducting research all across campus. They might research alone or work with graduate and undergraduate students. Some of the most successful research happens when students work in teams, so many faculty members are happy to take on more than one student. That’s good news for those who want to be involved in research but don’t want to come up with their own research projects. You may be able to get on board with a project that is already underway.

 To find out what projects are happening on campus, you can search opportunities posted on [URE student webpage link]. You can also talk to department heads, advisors, and individual professors to find out what kinds of research are already going on. Link to more information

Will I get paid to do research?

The answer is usually no. Conducting research is part of the educational experience, and it is helpful to think of it that way. Researching as an undergraduate is an opportunity to learn, which is not the same as having a job. However, even though you don’t  get paid, you still get to learn many of the same skills that you learn from having a job, such as being responsible, being on time, and working consistently. Of course, you might be able to get a stipend for being involved,although this is not necessarily an hourly wage. Sometimes grants will pay for student researchers. 

Can I get college credit to do research?

It is possible to get college credit for doing research. Frequently, research activities are part of research methods or independent project courses. The policy may depend on the department, so it’s a good idea to ask your advisor. However, sometimes college credit may not be available.  

 If I want to do research, what is my first step?

Talk to your faculty advisor and the department chair of the department in which you would like to conduct research to learn what kinds of opportunities are available. Then familiarize yourself with all there is to know about undergraduate research. You can do that by reading this webpage and learning about the URE. You can learn all about the benefits of research, how to join a project that is already in progress or start your own, and what you might expect from your research experience. After you’ve read through the FAQ questions, you might like to refer to the reference list below. Some of these contain useful links that you can follow to learn even more from other websites. Then, of course,decide if undergraduate research is right for you. Link to more information 

Can virtual students be involved in research?

Yes, virtual students can be involved in undergraduate research. Understandably, some difficulties are associated with this type of research, but many FHSU faculty mentors have successfully completed research with virtual students. Scholarly and creative projects can be conducted collaboratively over the Internet. The effort to remain in contact over the Internet is not so different from what on-campus students must do, regularly checking in with faculty mentors to report work completed and discuss problems.

 If you are a virtual student, you will use much the same process to find a faculty mentor as on-campus students. Review faculty websites to find a faculty mentor that might be interested in working with you on a research project. (You might join a project that is already in progress or begin one of your own.) Contact faculty members to let them know you’re interested in researching under them. Start with an email and then follow up. If a faculty member isn’t responding to email, you might try contacting them by phone. Make sure to explain to faculty members that you area virtual student. You and your mentor can work out an effective system for making the situation work. Link to more information 

REFERENCE LIST

 What kinds of activities are considered to be research?

Council on Undergraduate Research. “About the Council for Undergraduate Research.” Last accessed March 16, 2012. http://www.cur.org/about.html.

Wenzel, Tom.“Definition of Undergraduate Research.” Bates College. Last accessed March 16,2012. http://www.bates.edu/Prebuilt/chem-definition.pdf.

 Is engaging in undergraduate research a good idea for me?

Fort Hays State University. “The Fort Hays State University Undergraduate Research Experience.”Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.fhsu.edu/academic/gradschl/ure/URE-video/.

University of California, San Diego. “Is a research project right for me?” Undergraduate Research Portal. Last accessed March 16, 2012. http://urp.ucsd.edu/guide/assessment.html.

 How can I benefit from doing research?

Kinkead, Joyce. Advancing Undergraduate Research: Marketing,Communications, and Fundraising. Washington, D.C. Council on Undergraduate Research. 2012. 12.

Laroche, Katie. PSI CHI; The International Honor Society of Psychology. “Advantages of Undergraduate Research: a Student’s Perspective.” Last accessed March 16, 2012.http://faculty.swosu.edu/stephen.burgess/research/Benefits%20of%20Participating%20in%20Research.htm

Lopatto, David.“Undergraduate Research as a High-Impact Student Experience.” Peer Review. 12, no. 2 (2012). http://www.aacu.org/peerreview/pr-sp10/pr-sp10_Lopatto.cfm.

Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Benefits of Undergraduate Research.” Undergraduate Research Institute. Last accessed March 16, 2012. http://www.uri.clahs.vt.edu/benefits.html.

How can my research be funded?

Costume Society of America. “Stella Blum Student Research Grant.” Last accessed March 26, 2012.http://www.costumesocietyamerica.com/grantsawards/stellablum.html.

Fort Hays State University. “Finding Funding for Student Research.”  Last accessed March 16, 2012. http://www.fhsu.edu/academic/gradschl/ure/Finding-Funding---URE---students/.

National Science Foundation. “Finding Funding.” Last accessed March 26, 2012.  http://www.nsf.gov/funding/index.jsp.

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. “Grants-in-Aid of Research Program.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.sigmaxi.org/programs/giar/index.shtml.

Society of Wetland Scientists. “Student Research Grants Program – 2012.” Last accessed March 26, 2012.

What kind of research should I do?

Chew, Mark. Berkeley University. “Tips for Undergraduate Researchers.” Last accessed March26, 2012. http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/~pister/etc/urtips.html.

University of California, San Diego. “Is Undergraduate Research for You?” Last accessed March16, 2012. http://urp.ucsd.edu/for-students/is-it-right-for-me.html.

University of California Santa Cruz. “Choose a Research Topic.” Last accessed March 26, 2012.http://library.ucsc.edu/help/howto/choose-a-research-topic.

 What can my involvement in research do for my future?

Agre, Phil.“Advice for Undergraduate Researchers.” University of California Los Angeles. Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/grad-school.html.

Michigan State University. “Experience with Undergraduate Research.” Last accessed March 26,2012. http://ns.msu.edu/index.php/students/career/experience-with-undergraduate-research/.

Virginia Tech.“Undergraduate Research in Biological Sciences.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.biol.vt.edu/undergraduates/research/undergraduate_research.html.

 How can I find a professor to mentor my research?

Dartmouth College. “How to Find a Faculty Mentor for Research.” Last accessed March 26,2012. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ugar/undergrad/mentor.html.

 How do I get a research project going?

Bisogni, Carole. Cornell University. “Exploring Undergraduate Research Opportunities.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.human.cornell.edu/research/undergraduate/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=86130.

Chew, Mark. Berkeley University. “Tips for Undergraduate Researchers.” Last accessed March26, 2012. http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/~pister/etc/urtips.html.

WebGURU.“Starting a New Project.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.webguru.neu.edu/undergraduate-research/getting-started/starting-new-project.

Can I join a research project that is already in progress?

Carter, Ashley;Andrew Nguyen. The Student Doctor Network. “How to: Get Into Graduate School.”Last accessed March 2012. http://studentdoctor.net/2011/04/how-to-get-into-research/.

Fort Hays State University. “Current Undergraduate Research Opportunities.” Last accessed March26, 2012. http://www.fhsu.edu/ure/current-opportunities-for-students/.

WebGURU. “Finding an UR Opportunity.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://www.webguru.neu.edu/undergraduate-research/getting-started/finding-ur-opportunity.

 If I want to do research, what is my first step?

Cornell University. “Getting Started in Undergraduate Research.” Last accessed March26, 2012. http://www.research.cornell.edu/undergrad/Getting_Started.html.

Michigan State University. “First Steps: Get Started.” Last accessed March 26, 2012. http://urca.msu.edu/steps.

Can virtual students be involved in research?

  Under development