FAQs –To be a collective answering process!
Broader impacts. The National Science Foundation reviews the merit of proposals partly on the broader impact of the proposed work. Budgeting to include undergraduate research assistants can give a project a broader impact by promoting teaching, training, and learning. Contributions to the literature. Some student-initiated undergraduate research projects go on to publication, where they can make a novel contribution to the mentor’s field. Other projects may complement or supplement other work done in the same lab.
Training the next generation. Students who start doing research as undergraduates have a head start in their preparation for graduate school. Working with these highly motivated students as undergraduates can lead to their eventually becoming successful researchers — and possible collaborators — in their own right.
Connecting research and undergraduate education. As the role of higher education in society continues to change, universities have become more concerned about striking a balance between their research agendas and their mission to educate undergraduates. Engaging students in research ties these two aims together uniquely: undergraduate researchers deepen their knowledge of a content area, they acquire the technical skills needed to advance to graduate programs, and they develop professional skills that will serve them throughout their careers. Research mentors have identified steps that other mentors and administrators can take to facilitate undergraduate involvement in research:
- incentivizing new models of engaged learning with course releases, stipends, or other forms of remuneration
- creating networks of professors with an interest in integrating teaching and research
- bringing practica to earlier stages of undergraduate education
- granting formal recognition or credit to faculty and staff who mentor undergraduate researchers
- engaging in more cross-disciplinary research that can include students from several majors
- taking advantage of existing programs
- imparting on students a desire for aspiration and exploration
- including students at all levels
Yes. Consider the strengths of the undergraduate student and what they want to gain from the experience to help place them in a role that will be mutually beneficial.
Anything! Undergraduate students are eager to delve deeper into their field of interest and are willing to see first-hand what you do as an expert in the field. The type of work that you mentor your undergraduate researcher to do depends on the student's academic background, interests, and skill level. This determination is made between the research mentor and the undergraduate researcher.
Yes! Students are able to receive academic credit and get paid, can receive either one, or receive neither depending on the situation. It is important that you are upfront with the student on what you are willing to provide regarding credit and compensation. Although compensation is not the driving factor for interested undergraduate researchers – there are plenty of jobs on campus – it can help the financial reality many students face at Purdue and balances equity of your position between low-income and high-income students.
At Purdue, many undergraduate students are seeking research opportunities, they are unsure how to approach research mentors or that they do not know enough to start a project. Research mentors interested in working with a student can post their position(s) to OURConnect, Purdue's online application system of undergraduate research opportunities. If you have questions about the system or about how to model your research program, contact UGResearch@purdue.edu.
Go to the "Get Started" page to read how you can begin seeking undergraduate students who may be interested in working with you.
An undergraduate mentorship has been proven to be beneficial for the mentor and the mentee. Mentors receive preparation for becoming a supervisory professional for the future and learn how to work with others while teaching them. If you participated in undergraduate research or would have appreciated the opportunity, consider this as paying it forward and providing an experience for someone interested in your discipline. This type of mentorship can be very lucrative when applying for future positions as you will have demonstrated abilities to lead, mentor, and teach.