Honors College students are required to participate in undergraduate research as criteria to graduate with Honors College Distinction. Students can meet this criteria by sharing their scholarly work with others in the form of an oral presentation, poster presentation, or a formal paper.
There are many venues for students to present their work both on campus at departmental conferences or symposiums, and off campus at regional, national, or international conferences. Students may also publish their research in a journal in their discipline. Students who haven't met this criteria may present their Honors Thesis during the semester of their graduation.
What is Undergraduate Research?
Undergraduate Research is defined as an inquiry, investigation, or creative endeavor by an undergraduate student that enhances the student’s knowledge or advances the student’s creative abilities and contributes in a meaningful way to the student’s chosen discipline.
In 2005, the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) jointly endorsed the following statement on undergraduate research:
Its central premise is the formation of a collaborative enterprise between student and faculty member—most often one mentor and one burgeoning scholar but sometimes (particularly in the social and natural sciences) a team of either or both. This collaboration triggers a four-step learning process….
- The identification of and acquisition of a disciplinary or interdisciplinary methodology
- The setting out of a concrete investigative problem
- The carrying out of the actual project
- Finally, the dispersing/sharing a new scholar’s discoveries with his or her peers—a specific step traditionally missing in most undergraduate educational programs.
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.
Collaborative research projects allow students to further explore their areas of interest through hands-on work with faculty members. This type of learning is quite different from classroom learning in several ways, including:
- Students get to help formulate the questions that their research will help answer
- Students get to help design the methods that are used to answer the questions
- Students interpret the results of their discoveries and obtain new knowledge
- Students learn how to share their new results and contributions to others in their academic field
Undergraduate research is not limited to laboratory and scientific settings, although there are many opportunities for research in these areas. New discoveries and contributions can also be made in literature, social sciences, education, business, and creative arts, which also all provide exciting avenues for experiential learning. There are also interdisciplinary opportunities and students may also explore research endeavors in areas outside of their major and/or minor.
Here are some examples of research projects:
Investigating a historical event
Gathering data on people’s experiences & opinions
Working in labs or in the field
Developing a marketing or management plan for a local organization
Doing a critical paper analysis
Composing or arranging music
Creating a sculpture/painting
How do I get started in Research?
The important first step to getting started in undergraduate research is to find a faculty mentor whose interests match yours. Undergraduates do not work alone in their research projects, but work with a faculty member in a particular department.
Your faculty mentor can assist you in helping identify and frame a significant question in your discipline and then help plan the steps to the project. Here are some ways to find a faculty mentor:
Talk to your professors about their research interests. Ask about the faculty member’s areas of interest and if they are currently working on any projects that could use your assistance.
If you are not ready to begin research, but want to explore ideas, here are some options for learning more about undergraduate research:
Seek out a professor and volunteer to help out in their lab research, art studio, or assist them with other research endeavors.
Talk to other students. Go to student performances, exhibits, symposia and research events on campus and talk to those students to find out about their experiences.
Attend on campus research events such as Research Day and Big Night to see what others are doing in your field and to gain ideas for future research.
Talk to your professors and/or the chair of the department of your major to see if a position is available.
- Find a Student Research Assistant Program (SRAP) position by searching for available jobs through Career Services WolfWorks Login. Or visit the OUR website for available positions.
Where may I present my research?
The opportunity to present your research in a professional, public setting is the ultimate outcome of a research project. Students should share their scholarly work with others in the form of an oral presentation, poster presentation, or a formal paper. There are many venues for University of West Georgia students to present their work both on campus at departmental conferences or symposiums, and off campus at regional, national, or international conferences.
We encourage all UWG students participating in undergraduate research to plan to present their scholarly work at one of the following venues:
- A symposium or conference hosted by a department or College/Discipline at UWG
- UWG’s Annual Research Day and Big Night events
- A state, regional or national undergraduate research conference
- A regional, national or international professional conference in your discipline, announced by your department or encouraged by faculty mentors
- Publishing your research in a journal in your discipline
What opportunities are there for presenting research?
For a list of on campus and off campus opportunities to present your research, please visit Opportunities to Present Research.