Getting Started in Research

Frequent Questions:

What is Undergraduate Research? Why Participate?

Student Researcher Santiago Morales with Professor Dan PriceConducting undergraduate research typically entails serving as a research assistant to a faculty member on an ongoing research project. You will be responsible for one aspect of the professor's larger, existing research project. Some students create their own research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member, but this is not the norm, at least at the beginning.

While working one-on-one in collaboration with a faculty mentor, you contribute to original scholarship at the undergraduate level. This active, engaged learning cultivates your leadership and team building skills, and helps you become a more flexible and creative critical thinker—excellent preparation for life after college.

And OUR students agree: 97% of students who have participated in mentored research projects through OUR believe their research experience:

  • benefitted their education and enhanced their academic success,
  • increased the competitiveness of their graduate/professional school applications,
  • was personally and intellectually gratifying. 

How Do I Get Started in Conducting Research?

Make Connections

Student Researcher Sylvia Garcia
  • Start by talking with faculty you know. Talk to current and past professors from courses you have done well in and have enjoyed. Even if the professor is not currently seeking an undergraduate researcher, he or she may know of colleagues that are seeking research assistants within your discipline.
  • Read the faculty profiles from your home department. This is perhaps the best way to learn more about what research is in your field, and it will assist you in determining what type of research you would like to conduct. Many faculty web pages list some of the publications that the faculty member has authored. It is a good idea to read some of these articles.
  • Consult with an academic advisor from your department to inquire about faculty members currently conducting research in your discipline.
  • Talk to other undergraduates who are currently conducting research. They can let you know how they got their foot in the door. 

Other Resources

  • Consult this listing of UH faculty members seeking undergraduate researchers to assist them in ongoing research projects. This list is not comprehensive. There are many other faculty members on campus conducting research, but this list can get you started.
  • Join the Office of Undergraduate Research's Facebook page. You will receive weekly updates on available research positions and scholarships for undergraduates.
  • Join HURN, the student organization for undergraduate research. This will allow you to connect and network with other UH undergraduate researchers.
  • Register for the eDISCOVERY online portal which connects faculty, staff, and employers with UH students interested in real-world research both on campus and outside of UH.

How Do I Email a Faculty Member about Conducting Research?

When contacting a faculty member regarding a research opportunity, the email should include:

  1. Contact information
  2. Background information, such as academic information and any previous research experience
  3. Unofficial transcript
  4. One page résumé
  5. SPECIFICALLY what about the professor’s research is of interest to you
  6. WHY would you be a good fit for the position
  7. Your availability to conduct research

I Found a Mentor to Work with, So Now What?

Potential Options Include:
Student Researcher Craig Vollert
  • Apply for PURS, OUR part-time semester research program
  • Apply for SURF, OUR full-time summer research program
  • Enroll in the Senior Honors Thesis Program
  • Enroll in an independent study course (see your academic advisor for course number and appropriate number of credits)
  • Get paid hourly through the department
  • Volunteer your time

I Need Some Help with My Research!

Consult this list of writing resources to get help with your research.

I Would Like To Present at Undergraduate Research Day!

Undergraduate Research Day 2010Undergraduate Research Day is an exciting event in which student researchers showcase their projects through poster, paper, and creative presentations. Learn more about presenting at this event.

Good luck! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Office of Undergraduate Research

Faculty: Send Us A Listing for Your Research Opportunity

Simply send the Office of Undergraduate Research a posting of your available position. In the posting, please include the nature of the research project, necessary qualifications for applicants, and how the undergraduate will be supported (through PURS, SURF, independent study, thesis program, grant, volunteer, etc).

The position will be distributed via:

Once the position has been filled, please inform Karen Weber and the posting will be removed from the web page.