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What is undergraduate research?

For West Georgia students, undergraduate research is often an evolving experience that they participate throughout their time on campus. While students are not required to begin the pursuit of research projects at any specific point, they are encouraged to begin exploring the possibilities as soon as possible. Our student researchers get to explore questions that interest you, work with a faculty mentor and build a foundation for professional or graduate work. You may do undergraduate research in your major or another field of interest. Undergraduate research can encompass any academic discipline on campus: fine arts, humanities, social, natural, and physical sciences, education, business and nursing.

Is undergraduate research limited to science majors?

Absolutely not! Many students each year do undergraduate research in the social sciences, fine and performing arts, humanities, business, education, nursing, etc. Almost every discipline has undergraduate research opportunities.

Is undergraduate research limited to Seniors?

You definitely do not need to wait until you are an upperclassman to participate in research. Faculty often seek out Freshmen and Sophomore researchers because those students have the potential to work on the research project for several semesters.

When should I start thinking about a project and finding a mentor?

Faculty mentors often look for students at the beginning of a new semester, especially Faculty that have a grant or some other type of funding and are seeking students to employ. However, you can often begin working as a volunteer researcher with a Faculty at any point during the year, as long as you find a Faculty Mentor who needs a student researcher.

How do I find a Faculty mentor and project to work on?

The first step is to think about the subjects that interest you the most. Then you need to seek out a Faculty mentor whose research or interests are similar to yours. Talk with an advisor or faculty in that department, other students with a similar major, or a class professor. Also, the OUR website lists Available Positions.

Can I get paid for doing research?

There are some opportunities for paid student researchers, mainly: SRAP, grants, and some departmental/college sponsored positions.

However, a formal research agreement is not required for you to engage in faculty-directed research or creative activities. As long as you find a willing Faculty mentor, you can volunteer as a student researcher or perhaps even earn academic credit. To earn academic credit, you and your Faculty mentor will need to talk to the Department Chair and follow the procedures established by the Registrar’s Office.

Do I have to do research in my major?

You do not have to do research with a faculty mentor in your major –– you can do undergraduate research in every academic discipline at West Georgia. For example, if you are a Biology major interested in studying Neuroscience, you might team up with a Psychology professor who specializes in that area. Or if you are a Graphic Design Art major, you might work on an Advertising project with a Marketing Professor or a Professional staff member of our University Communication and Marketing office.

If I plan to apply to a graduate or professional program, should I do undergraduate research?

While undergraduate research is usually not a mandatory requirement for admission to graduate or professional programs, it will certainly help distinguish your application from others. While having a high GPA and participating in student or community organizations is also helpful, undergraduate research highlights characteristics that are critical to success in graduate and professional programs: high intellectual and creative abilities, academic engagement, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In essence, undergraduate research shows that you can not only succeed as a student, but also as a scholar, i.e. you are not just a receiver of information, but also a producer of information.