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Frequently Asked Questions for the Beginner Researcher

Below are a list of frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions about getting involved in undergraduate research at Ohio State, the OUR&CI offers open walk-in hours at the office (53 W 11th Avenue) Monday-Friday from 10:00am-4:00pm or you can email us at ugresearch@osu.edu.

What are the benefits of undergraduate research?

There are educational, professional and personal benefits to participating in undergraduate research:

  • Education benefits include:
    • work closely with an OSU faculty member
    • learn about issues, methods and leaders in your chosen field
    • apply concepts learned in classes to "real life" situations
  • Professional benefits include:
    • develop transferrable and  marketable skills
    • collaborate wiht others and work effectively as a part of a team
    • contribute to the growth of knowledge in your field
  • Personal benefits include:
    • grow as a critical, analytical and indepent thinker
    • meet challenges and demonstrate the ability the complete a project
    • discover personal interests and strengths
    • develop internal standards of excellence

How do I get involved in undergraduate research at Ohio State?

We break the process of getting involved in undergraduate research at Ohio State into three steps. These steps can be found here.

Does the OUR&CI have a list of available opportunities?

No, the OUR&CI does not have a list of available opportunities, however, there are times that faculty members contact the office asking if we can send an opportunity out to our listserv. If you are interested in receiving these emails, and others from the office, you can sign up here.

Are there opportunities available for non-STEM students?

Yes, and the number of these opportunies are growing! It may take a bit longer to find the right research position for you, though, so it is important to be patient and persistent.

Can I get involved in undergraduate research even though I'm not an honors student?

Yes, you can get involved in undergraduate research as a non-honors student and we encourage you to do so! Non-honors students have the same opportunities as honors students, including completing a thesis.

When should I start looking for an undergraduate research position?

There is no right time to get start looking. The office encourages you to have good time management prior to getting involved in research and to recognize that academics are your priority when on campus. Once you are comfortable adding another activity into your schedule then you can start looking for an undergraduate research position.

Is there a specific time throughout the year that I should reach out to potential faculty mentors?

You can reach out to potential faculty mentors whenever they are ready to do so. Students get involved in undergraduate research at the beginning of the semester, mid-way through a semester, or even during the summer months. Although it is possible to get involved in undergraduate research throughout the entire year, the time periods around graduation is the best time to contact potential faculty mentors.

I have not experience with research: will this hinder my ability to find a position?

Absolutely not! As an undergraduate, faculty members tend to assume that you have had no prior experience. Faculty members are teachers, they want to provide with the necessary resources, knowledge and support that you need in order to grow as a scholar. With that being said, some faculty members do require students to take basic courses before getting started in their research, however, these classes are typically taken during the first year on campus. All in all, do not hesitate getting involved in undergraduate research just because you feel like you do not have the experience that someone is looking for!

Is there a minimum GPA that I have to have to get involved in undergraduate research?

There is no universal GPA that must be met to get involved in undergraduate research, however, some faculty members will ask what GPA a student has. Again, academics are a student's priority while on campus so if there is room for improvement in the student's GPA then a faculty member may suggest that the student spend less time on the research and more time on their studies.

How much time should I be spending on my research?

The time that you spend in your lab or other research setting is based on you, your schedule and what you want to get out of the experience. We would say that the average time a student spends on their research is between 10-15 hours a week. We would encourage you to think about how difficult your classes are, what other commitments you have, whether or not you want to complete a thesis or publish your research. Once you have a good idea on how much time you feel comfortable committing your research, have a discussion with your research advisor about your schedule so that everyone's expectations are being met and there is no miscommunication about your schedule for the semester.

Will I get paid for my undergraduate research?

Compensation for undergraduate research varies. The experience alone is wonderful, however, there are other ways that you can get compensated for your work. Students are able to gain course credit for their research. We would suggest that you speak to you academic advisor if you are interested in doing this. Paid positions are rare for undergraduates, however, there are plenty of scholarships and fellowships available that will compensate you financially. Many of these scholarships and fellowships can be found here.

Is there a contract that I have to sign to get involved in undergraduate research?

No, a contract is not required, however, it can help both parties outline, develop, and meet expectations. Meeting expectations of all parties will help create a satisfying working relationahip from day one. A template for a research contract can be found here.

What additional experiences will there be for me to get involved in once I start my research?

There are plenty of additional opportunities including funding, presentation, and publishing opportunities. Students can also complete their research thesis. Don't forget that you can also get involved in a formal research program or travel abroad to conduct research too!