Get Started in Undergraduate Research
“Now” is the right time to get involved in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities regardless of your major or class standing.
Getting started in undergraduate research involves two important components. The first is developing your research skills, and the second is finding the right opportunity for you to engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities.
Ask the Right Questions
Just as every research project begins with a good question, your own start in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities should begin by asking yourself:
- What kind of research is most interesting to me?
- What skills are needed for the research I am interested in?
- What opportunities for research, scholarship, and creative activities are available for me to engage in as an undergraduate student?
- How much time do I have each week to commit to research and still keep up my grades?
Working through these questions as you search for research projects will help you identify those opportunities that are the perfect fit for you, as well as make important decisions about how to develop your own research skills.
Observe Other Researchers
Socially and professionally speaking, research never happens in a vacuum. No matter how talented and successful they are now, even the most accomplished researchers had to start somewhere. The best place to start is by learning about the research going on all around you. You can begin to develop your own research skills by looking to the example of others in many ways:
- Listen carefully when faculty talk about their research in class—or better yet, just ask them about it!
- Attend a seminar or presentation by an expert in your area of interest, or attend a lecture on a topic new to you (it might resonate with you more than expected).
- Check websites and social media from organizations aligned with your field of interest to learn about new developments.
- Attend WSU’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) and learn about the undergraduate research that other students are doing.
- Visit the WSU Libraries in person or online to read research articles, look through industry journals and e-journals, and peruse databases on dozens of topics.
- Note: Don’t forget that this step is crucially related to all the others. Every WSU faculty member you speak with, every expert whose talk you attend or poster you view, almost every individual mentioned in relevant websites and social media feeds, and even many of your fellow undergraduate researchers are disseminating their research work in some form. Most often, they are formally publishing their work through writing—and you can read about their work for yourself through the resources made available to you through WSU Libraries.
As you progress through your own career, you will find that the practices listed above will always be important for maintaining your effectiveness as a researcher.
Take Advantage of Our Programs
We teach a one-credit course entitled “Univ 199: Introduction to Directed Research” and offered in both fall and spring semesters. It is designed for those interested in—but not yet working on—research, scholarship, and creative activities. Take it to learn how to get involved in research and gain skills that will prepare you for a mentored research project.
Undergraduates currently involved in research serve as “peer mentors” and are available to meet with you on the Pullman campus. Their experience and training will help them answer your questions, such as about getting started, options for financial support for your efforts, and finding the right mentor. An online scheduling system helps you schedule an appointment with any of the mentors profiled on the Office of Undergraduate Research website.
Attend Our Information Sessions
The Office of Undergraduate Research offers a number of information sessions on getting involved with undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities. Watch for workshop announcements on our events page.
Engage in Course Based Research
Some classes at WSU involve course based research. These courses provide a convenient opportunity to engage in research, scholarship, or creativity activities in your discipline while you are earning credits toward your degree.