Getting Started: Finding Research Opportunities
Undergraduate students interested in pursuing research should first think about the following:
- What are your specific research interests? In what discipline(s)? What are you prepared to do?
- What kinds of skills do you want to develop? What are your long-term goals?
- When may be the best time for you to start undergraduate research? When will you have sufficient time in light of coursework and other responsibilities? (This probably means not starting in your first year!)
Once you’ve decided that research makes sense for you, the next step is to identify relevant opportunities. We encourage you to review the CCRF Research Opportunities Database, but keep in mind that not all opportunities are listed there. CCRF also hosts an annual College Summer Institute (CSI) that provides undergraduate students with faculty-mentored research experiences in the humanities and social sciences.
Beyond the resources listed above, most students in the College find research opportunities by reaching out to potential faculty mentors who share their research interests. For an overview of best practices, please review the information on the page Finding a Research Mentor.
Keep in mind that undergraduate research can assume a variety of forms. In the past, students in the College have:
- worked as a research assistant (RA) for a professor;
- joined a lab or other research team;
- completed research experiences at institutions like the Smart Museum and Newberry Library;
- pursued creative inquiry through artistic work;
- participated in the College Summer Institute (CSI);
- pursued research opportunities abroad; and more!
In most cases, undergraduate research is not an ‘independent’ research project conceived and conducted by the student but rather a mentored research experience in which a student makes a meaningful contribution to a larger project (e.g., an existing research project in a lab, a digital humanities project, fieldwork for a larger study, research for a faculty member’s book-in-progress, etc.).