Getting Started

What Should I Do?

First Steps

Every GVSU student can get involved in undergraduate research and scholarship.  Whether you are a first-year student or a year from graduation, there are many opportunities available in any field or discipline.  For many students, finding an opportunity or project is the hardest part.  While many students find research opportunities immediately, finding a research project can be a long process and you may need to contact many people. Be patient and persevere.  Here are some tips to get you started:

Find a subject that interests you
Think about classes that you have enjoyed or ideas that interest you that do not fall within your major.  Is there something that left you wanting to know more?  What about it was enjoyable?  Think about classes that you have enjoyed. Was there a project, paper, lab, idea, or experience that really left you wanting to learning more about it? Why did you enjoy it? What do you want to learn more about? Finding a topic, problem, idea,or activity that really excites you is a great place to begin.

Make an appointment
Contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at 616-331-8100 to make a research advising appointment with the Director, Dr. Susan Mendoza. She can help you plan your path.

Talk to a faculty member
If you really enjoyed a class and want to learn about that subject area, make an appointment to speak with the faculty member. Remember to do your homework ahead of time—that is, prepare for your meeting with the faculty member. Find out what he/she is researching and then become familiar with some of the terms and ideas related to the field. Finally, analyze your strengths and areas you need to improve.  How will participating in this experience help you? What can you contribute to the project?

Take advantage of office hours and talk with professors who teach on topics that interest you. Visit their web pages and read some of the work they have published.

If the faculty member you are approaching is not able to partner with you, ask for recommendations of other faculty that might provide you with the opportunity to become involved.

Attend the Undergraduate Research Fair
The Undergraduate Research Fair acts as a forum for students to meet faculty from various disciplines and learn about different research and scholarship opportunities at GVSU.  It is held annually on the first Tuesday in October.


Why Should I Do It?

What is research and scholarship?
Research and scholarship is how the academic community communicates with the world. Taking multiple forms, research includes scholarly and creative activities that can lead to new knowledge, improve our ability to solve problems, result in new theory, or in the creation of new art or an artistic performance.  Research is a process of careful inquiry leading to the discovery of new information. 

Research can culminate in a written or oral presentation as a means of making the body of academic knowledge or creative exploration accessible to other investigators in the field, as well as to the general public. GVSU's annual Student Scholars Day offers a wonderful opportunity to practice sharing your work orally and visually. 

What is undergraduate research and scholarship?
Undergraduate research and scholarship is a unique opportunity for students to work with faculty on their scholarship and produce an original output that contributes to the knowledge or activity of a particular academic discipline.

Some students will work on part of a faculty member’s current research project. Other students may develop an independent project of their own that is guided by a faculty member. Either way, students have opportunities in a variety of disciplines from art history to zoology to engage in original hands-on research and scholarship.

Why research?
The intended outcomes for students engaging in undergraduate research and scholarship include:

  • Enhancing learning through the application of research and creative methods.  In this process, students increase their level of problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills, and curiosity.
  • Providing a real-world context in which students can apply classroom content, such as theories and methods.
  • Exposing and introducing students to methods of inquiry in their discipline.
  • Increasing student interest in research or graduate work in their discipline.
  • Introducing and socializing students to the culture of their discipline.
  • Preparing students for research and graduate school.
  • Preparing students for successful entry into the workforce.
  • Developing enhanced analytical skills, and oral and written communication skills.

Page last modified August 4, 2017