Getting Involved in Undergraduate Research

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.

Undergraduate research 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.

Getting Started

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:


Start Exploring

Learn more about research within your department:
o Find out what research looks like in your major: what courses include research; can you receive credit or compensation for conducting research; which professors are involved with undergraduate research; where is the research taking place?

Explore possible research opportunities through your department:
o Look on the department website to gain information.
o Talk to professors and other students about research.

Attend Undergraduate Research Fair and Student Scholars Day:
o Undergraduate Research Fair is held the first Tuesday in October. It gives students the opportunity to talk to faculty and organization representatives about research and discuss opportunities to get involved.
o Student Scholars Day is a day-long event held the second Wednesday in April. It provides opportunities for students at GVSU to showcase their research to the University community.
o Both events are coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). They provide an opportunity to network with faculty and peers.


-Learn what types of research are going on within your department
-Clarify your career goals
-Build communication skills and confidence
-Learn how to network
-Discover your areas of interest

Make Connections

Talk to your faculty advisor and professors about research and how to get involved:
o Ask your faculty advisor how research may fit with your career goals. Some graduate school programs or careers require research experience, but some do not. Specific types of research experiences may be more useful than others.
o Ask professors what research projects they are currently working on, or have done in the past.
o Ask about alternative research opportunities outside of GVSU.
o Ask possible research mentors what skills/attributes they look for in research students.
o Ask how you could prepare to do research in the next year.


-Discover your areas of interest
-Determine career goals

Immerse Yourself

Take courses that emphasize research methodology and consider 399/499 courses
o Learning about research methodology provides a better understanding of how research is conducted, and provides an opportunity for students to learn why research is important and necessary in our society.
o 399 and 499 courses provide an opportunity to work on a faculty member’s project for course credit, or to develop your own project.

Get involved with a research project by working with a faculty mentor
o Working with a faculty member can be beneficial for applying to graduate school, or for a student’s future career (e.g., gaining letters of recommendation).

Consider applying for a summer research program such as S3 or MS3
o Student Summer Scholars (S3) and Modified Student Summer Scholars (MS3) are programs, offered through OURS, that provide summer research and creative practice opportunities.
o Another potential way to become involved with a research project is to expand beyond GVSU. Summer programs, research institutes, Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), or internships that involve research experiences are just some ways that students get involved outside the university. Make sure to consider the full range of research opportunities.


-Gain foundational knowledge on research methodology
-Gain critical thinking/problem solving skills
-Improve collaborative working skills
-Enhance résumé
-Improve verbal and written communication skills
-Gain experience in lab & field skills and/or library & research skills

Reap the Rewards

Present at Student Scholars Day
o Student Scholars Day provides the space for students to showcase their work, including oral presentations, discussion and panel sessions, fine arts exhibits and performances, and poster presentations.

Attend or present at a professional conference within your discipline
o Presenting research at a professional conference provides an opportunity to share your findings and learn about research that is being conducted by others within your field of interest.

Submit your work for publication
o Publishing work in journals is a great way for researchers to share their findings with the academic community.


-Develop dissemination and presentation skills
-Learn how to network
-Learn current research in your discipline
-Gain confidence in feeling like a scholar

Page last modified August 11, 2022