What to Do With Your Undergraduate Research
Whether it’s individually directed or under a professor, beginning undergraduate research is daunting. After all, you don’t have any letters after your name – you might not even have a full year of college under your belt! Is there really anything you can do?
Yes! There are entire conferences dedicated showcasing undergraduate research. Besides that, a foundation in research is great way to grow in your area of study, serve the community, and bulk up your resume. Here’s how to get started:
Find A Research Project
Maybe you already have something in mind, something you wrote a paper on way back when that you’d like to explore. Fantastic! If not, that’s okay, too. There are several different ways to get involved in undergraduate research. You can work on your own project if you or a group of your friends have an idea. Or, if you have no idea where to begin, you can get involved in faculty research projects. Most big universities have faculty performing research in a variety of disciplines, from chemistry to psychology to English literature. Most of the time, these professors use graduate and undergraduate students to help them with the nitty-gritty research – categorizing articles, writing case briefs, sorting and clean vials, etc. If you really have no idea where to begin, pick your favorite professor and ask if they’re working on research and, if so, could you possibly be involved. They might say no and that’s okay – they may be able to direct you to a project you can work on or advise you as you create your own.
Once you find – or create – your research project, get moving on logistics. Can you get funding for undergraduate research or a scholarship for participating in a faculty project? What about community service hours? You might even be able to get school credit for it. Talk to your academic adviser, supervising faculty, or research department if your school has one about the tangible benefits of undergraduate research. They may surprise you!
Find an Audience
You’ve made leaps and bounds in your project, come up with startling conclusions, and you want to tell the world. But how? You can try for publication at your school if they have an academic journal. You can also talk to your academic adviser or supervising faculty member about publication opportunities. You can also apply to present at conferences such as the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) and ACC Meeting of the Minds. These two conferences are devoting to showcasing undergraduate research and are held yearly. Not only are they great opportunities to publicize your work, but they’re great networking opportunities. Undergraduate research really bulks up a resume, particularly if you’ve been published and/or participated in a conference.
So what are you waiting for? Get out and get researching!