Steps to Get Started in Undergraduate Research
At Ohio State, undergraduate students typically seek out faculty mentors, not the other way around. In order to get started, please read through the steps below!
Step 1 - Define a Possible Research Area or Topic of Interest
- Consider getting involved in research in your field of study. Think about classes that may have sparked your interest. Although most students conduct research related to their major, some students branch outside of their major. It is important to find a research topic that is interesting to you!
- Talk to faculty and visit college or department research pages and directories. Explore the many research centers and institutes that bring together researchers across campus.
- Attend research forums that are held across campus. A list of forums held by Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry can be found under our Events and Awards page. Other places around campus also host forums, including the College of Education and Human Ecology and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environment Sciences!
- Browse past undergraduate student theses in the Knowledge Bank.
- Visit the UR&CI Blog to learn about your peer’s undergraduate research experiences.
Step 2 - Identify Potential Faculty Mentors
Step 3 - Contact Potential Faculty Mentors
- Students typically reach out to faculty via email (although utilizing office hours of a faculty member you’re taking a course with is also a great way to interact). Remember first impressions are key, express a genuine interest and proofread, proofread, proofread. Customize each email for the faculty member you’re sending a message to and be sure to include the following:
- Address the faculty member and introduce yourself.
- Explain your interest in their research and why you want to work with them.
- Organize a time to meet.
- Add a respectful closing.
- Schedule a meeting with the faculty mentor to meet via Zoom or in-person when allowed. Prepare yourself for this meeting by doing the following:
- Read the faculty member’s publications.
- Be prepared to discuss experiences and skills.
- Treat the meeting like an interview.
- Do not get discouraged. Send a follow-up or ask if faculty have any other recommendations in terms of who to contact next.
- Watch this video of advice on How to Contact Faculty from a current faculty mentor.
Other Resources for Getting Started
Although a contract between undergraduate researchers and their faculty research mentor is not necessary, it can help both parties outline, develop, and meet expectations. Meeting expectations of all parties will help create a satisfying working relationship from day one. A template for a research contract can be found here.
Information for Students at Regional Campuses
Students attending a regional campus are encouraged to engage in undergraduate research, and the process of getting involved is very similar for any student in any major on any Ohio State campus. Regional campus students are welcome to take advantage of any of the funding and presentation opportunities offered by the OUR&CI. There is also additional information on undergraduate research for the Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark campuses.