Is research only for science students?
Is research only for student who want to go to graduate school?
Isn’t my course work enough?
No, no, and maybe not.
Research is the systematic gathering of information to help you answer a question or solve a problem. Research is going on right now all over the university and all over the world in libraries and laboratories, in rainforests and hospitals, and in courtrooms and archeological sites.
Undergraduate research can help you:
- improve your communication skills
- find opportunities to present and publish your ideas
- test your determination and perseverance
- develop creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual independence
Independent research with the goal of creating a publically accessible product is beneficial for all undergraduates, regardless of discipline or future career plans. A recent survey of employers demonstrates that skills and aptitudes gained through research are highly valued in the workplace.
Employers in the survey specifically endorse curriculum that has students “conduct research and use evidence-based analysis.” Independent research fosters innovation and critical thinking (favored by over 90% of employers). When students direct their research toward a capstone project that will be presented to the public, they develop their written and oral communication skills, which 80% of employers prefer more emphasis on in undergraduate recruits. The survey also indicates that 79% of employers want undergraduates to “complete a project prior to graduation that demonstrates their acquired knowledge and skills.” [From “It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success,” Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2013]
Many departments require capstone projects during the senior year to synthesize the knowledge gained in your major field and present it to the public. For some students, this takes the form of a senior thesis, a formal academic article based on disciplinary conventions. You can use your research to create a capstone that can take many forms – a website, a community service project, an exhibition, etc. Talk with your adviser about opportunities to pursue these types of projects within your major requirements.
Take a look at Five Essential Skills for Every Undergraduate Researcher
To make your research experience the most valuable, it should arise from a passion for a particular topic and approach to knowledge. The first step is to identify your area of interest.