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Guide to Undergraduate Research
Participating in research helps develop skills identified as essential by employers. Studies show that engaging in research early in your college career can also help you clarify your career goals and positively impact your academic performance..
What will you need to land a great job or get into graduate school or professional school after graduating from MSU Denver? In addition to doing well in your course work, you’ll need an attractive resume, a relationship with a professor who can write you a strong letter of recommendation, and a demonstration of skills required in your field. Participating in undergraduate research/creative scholarship can enhance all of these areas.
Finding a research project is often the largest barrier to getting involved in research. You might want to start by identifying your interests. Ask yourself the following questions:
Taking time to reflect on these questions will help you decide what kind of research you would like to pursue, and which faculty research mentors might be compatible with your research and creative endeavors.
Many MSU Denver students do research with MSU Denver faculty. Often the best way to find a faculty mentor is to talk with your professors. Ask them about their research projects and let them know you are interested in learning more. They might invite you to work with them or they might refer you to other faculty.
Sometimes your academic department office will have information on faculty research interests. They may also have lists of organizations with research programs.
In some fields working as a lab assistant will open doors to research projects.
Keep in mind that not all faculty will have current openings or they may have specific criteria for research assistants. Be polite and understanding if your favorite professor doesn’t offer you a position. Don’t take it personally. Ask for suggestions and then move on to other resources. Be flexible! Even if a potential mentor’s interests don’t align exactly with your own, take the opportunity. The experience can potentially open doors to other opportunities.
Not sure how to approach potential mentors? See the tips below.
Tips for emailing potential mentors
If you have a particular area of interest, use the internet to seek our local researchers working in the field. Approach them and ask them to tell you more about their work. Offer to work with them for internship credit. (Most researchers will not take volunteers; however, if you are doing an internship for academic credit, they may be more likely to consider letting you work with them.)
These organizations often have resources and announcements related to work being done in the field. They may also have journals with articles on recent research.
Some professors offer courses with an authentic research experience embedded within the course. These experiences are called course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). Students often work collaboratively on a research project using the methods of the discipline to contribute new knowledge. Ask your professors if they teach a course with a CURE.
Many disciplines offer courses specifically about research and methodology.
Talk with students who have done or are doing research, ask them how they got started.
Attend MSU Denver’s Undergraduate Research Conference: A Symposium of Scholarly Works and Creative Projects held each April. Ask the presenters how they got started with their project. If you see a project you are interested in, ask the presenter if there is an opportunity to continue the work.
Integrity in research is fundamental in any field of study. Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) is a set of principles for conducting research with integrity and fostering an environment that allows students and mentors to work together toward common goals. These principles are critical for excellence in any field of research and to ensure public trust. To ensure research is conducted ethically, consider some of the following points:
–Research on Human Subjects must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at MSU Denver prior to the initiation of the research.
–Research Using Animals must be done in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee oversees all research activities involving vertebrate animals.
What is Research Misconduct?
Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in any aspect of the research process.
Applying for a research grant not only helps fund your research, but it gives you an opportunity to practice clearly communicating the goals, methods, and significance of your research. Preparing a grant application is a desirable skill. Receiving a grant can help bolster your resume!
The Undergraduate Research & Creative Scholarship program offers Mini-Grants up to $500.
For more information on funding opportunities, click here.
Share the results of your research and creative scholarship while sharpening your communication skills! An important aspect of undergraduate research is to contribute to your field. This contribution is usually shared with a broader community of scholars by presenting at a conference and / or publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.
Present your research at MSU Denver’s Undergraduate Research Conference: A Symposium of Scholarly Works and Creative Projects.
Publish your research in MSU Denver’s journal, The Rowdy Scholar: A Journal of Undergraduate Research & Creative Works.
For more information and presenting and publishing, click here.
Getting involved in research can sometimes feel a little daunting, but that’s what we are here for! We can help you navigate the process. Not quite ready to jump into a research project? Here are some other ways you can get involved:
Click here to learn about more ways to get involved
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