Students who want to participate in undergraduate research should work through the 5 tiers of engagement described below. Completing each of these activities will help you build the skills and confidence necessary to identify and obtain a research experience that fits your needs.
- Tier 1: 1st Semester
- Tier 2: 1st Semester
- Tier 3: 1st/2nd Semester
- Tier 4: 2nd Semester
- Tier 5: 2nd/3rd Semester
TIER 1: Complete the UR Self-Assessment and Review the I Will Document
Before you pursue available research opportunities you should consider why you want to engage in research and what you expect to gain from the experience. Completing the Undergraduate Research Self-Assessment will help you answer these questions and determine your research needs and goals. In addition, the self-assessment may also help you identify questions and /or ideas you may want to discuss with OUR staff and/or prospective research mentors. A great way to evaluate your level of research experience and engagement is to review the OUR I WILL document, which outlines approximately fifty items that you may have completed or will complete during your undergraduate career. Identifying your experience will prove extremely useful as you begin to develop a formal proposal and engage with a potential research mentor.
TIER 2: Attend a “Getting Started in Undergraduate Research” workshop
This interactive workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the entire undergraduate research process at USF. Students will learn about the types of research opportunities available, how to network with potential mentors, and how to get credit for research experiences. Students who attend the Getting Started workshop are added to the Undergraduate Research Interest Group Canvas organization, which contains a listing of current research opportunities.
A Note About Position Announcements on Canvas: Announcements posted on the Canvas organization represent an additional resource for students seeking a research position. The list is NOT comprehensive and therefore should not be used as the only or primary source for current opportunities. The OUR recommends that students seeking positions engage with their professors and other department personnel for information regarding available opportunities.
TIER 3: Attend the next two workshops in the Getting Started series: Researching a Mentor and Developing an Undergraduate Research Project and Working the Problem: Research Skills
These two interactive workshops provide additional information and training and offer students the opportunity to apply what they have learned through a variety of interactive exercises and activities.
TIER 4: Attend a research seminar/lecture and/or enroll in a research course
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in your discipline and the larger academic community is to attend a department sponsored research seminar/ lecture by a prominent scholar or USF faculty. Most USF programs/departments host seminars throughout the academic year and nearly all are free and open to the public. Attending seminars is a great way to learn about a subject in your discipline or outside of your discipline and these venues likewise provide a great opportunity to network and engage with the featured speakers and faculty. In addition, you can gain invaluable experience by enrolling in a research methods or laboratory course and other courses that include a research component. Enrolling in a research course provides the added benefit of networking with faculty and graduate students who may have research opportunities available or who may be aware of additional opportunities.
TIER 5: Engage with graduate students, faculty, and peers participating in undergraduate research
A great way to learn about research projects and potential mentors is to speak with graduate students. First, graduate students are a direct connection to potential faculty mentors and may be able to advocate for you. Second, graduate students can provide advice and insight on working with faculty. Third, graduate students can discuss their program and provide advice about finding research opportunities. Finally, graduate students can work with you to refine your research focus and may be able to serve as a research mentor (this requires approval by the program and the OUR). To identify graduate students, review the program/department website.
Of course to secure an undergraduate research position, you need to network and engage with as many faculty as possible. Take time to research a potential faculty mentor and become familiar with his or her current research, publications, and projects. Perhaps the best way to identify and research a potential faculty mentor is to review the faculty member’s information on their department’s website. You may also want to approach a potential faculty mentor after class or visit with them during scheduled office hours to learn more about their research or current project. Many research positions are not formally advertised by faculty and in many cases are developed as a direct result of direct inquiries and engagement with students, therefore, frequent and thoughtful communication with faculty is critical to obtaining a research position.
Last but not least, talk to friends and acquaintances that have previously or are currently engaged in an undergraduate research experience. Knowledge of how others have successfully obtained a research experience can prove invaluable as you navigate the process for yourself.