What is Undergraduate Research
When most people think of research, they picture a white haired, sleep-deprived, somewhat insane looking man in a white lab coat staring into a beaker full of a bubbling concoction. Good news: not all research looks like that! While some research involves lab coats and bubbling concoctions, research also involves traveling to other countries, analyzing a piece of literature written 200 years ago, interviewing human subjects, writing a musical composition, ect. Rest assured that research is being done in YOUR department.
Undergraduate research is mentor guided discovery; you ask a question and find the answer! You generate new information and communicate it via conference presentation, performance, or manuscript publication. Undergraduate research allows you to take learning outside of the classroom and and gives you an opportunity to make a difference in your field. You can conduct a creative project or pursue a scholarly endeavor- whatever you decide to do (or what knowledge you decide to generate), the Office of Undergraduate Research and your faculty mentor are here to support you through the process.
Why do Research
Besides the obvious reason that research is fun, there are a lot of reasons to become engaged in undergraduate research:
- Academic and professional growth
- Opportunities to travel and present your research at national and international conferences
- Opportunities to write and receive grants
- Work one-on-one with a faculty member
- Expand your CV or resume
- Learn what you need to know to be prepared for graduate school and the workforce
- Helps you clarify career goals
- Better develop critical thinking skills
- Learn hands on about your field of interest
- Make valuable connections with faculty members at your university and at others
How to get started
Becoming involved in undergraduate research can be a confusing process. We encourage you to make an appointment with an OUR staff member who can provide you with detailed instructions on how to get started. Click here to make an appointment or stop by our office (Building 1, Suite 1501).
Student Opportunity Center
The Student Opportunity Center (SOC) is a software that is accessible to all UNF students, faculty, and staff. With this software, users can browse scholarships, internships, co-ops, conferences, publication opportunities, and more across the country. This software is also a platform for students to apply for these opportunities and track their progress. To create a free account with the Student Opportunity Center, follow this link. When registering, be sure to use your UNF email address.
Similar to a Master's Thesis, an undergraduate thesis is a research paper based on a mentor-guided independent project. Essentially, you work with a faculty member to formulate a research design, collect and analyze data, and write up a research paper based on your results. Unlike a Master's Thesis, an undergraduate thesis involves much more direction and guidance from a faculty member. Some benefits of writing an undergraduate thesis include:
- Distinguish yourself as an undergraduate (less than 1% of undergrads complete a thesis)
- Develop skills to assure your success in graduate and professional programs
- Your thesis can be published in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library and in scholarly journals
- Present your work at SOARS, FURC, and professional conferences
While the benefits of writing an undergraduate thesis are numerous, writing an undergraduate thesis is undoubtedly one of the most challenging things you will do as an undergraduate. This process takes more time and effort than you can imagine. The process as a whole is like riding a roller coaster: you will have many ups (like finishing a section or finally having enough data to analyze) and many down (like not getting relevant results or not having enough time to write due to "life"). Although writing an undergraduate thesis is extremely challenging, it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do in your undergraduate career.
Each department offers opportunities to earn course credit for conducting research at the undergraduate level. Some departments call this "Directed Independent Study" or "Supervised Research." Most of these courses are offered for 1, 2, and 3 credit hours per semester. Before registering for one of these courses, a faculty member must agree to work with you. Upon registering for one of these courses, you and your faculty member will discuss what coursework you will have to complete in order to earn a passing grade. For example, in order to earn an "A" in one of these courses you might have to conduct lab research, analyze data, write up part of a manuscript, or conduct library research.
If you are full on credits, have already graduated, or just want to try out doing research, you may want to volunteer to work with a faculty member. As a volunteer researcher, you will reap the same benefits of taking an undergraduate research course, except you will not earn course credit. This is a great option for students who are not sure if they want to conduct research or with whom they want to work with for the remainder of their time as an undergraduate.