Getting Started in Undergraduate Research and Scholarship

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.  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 Do Research?

Undergraduate research and scholarship is a unique opportunity for students to work with faculty on their scholarship and produce a presentation, paper, or creative work that contributes to the knowledge or activity of a particular academic discipline.

Students who participate in undergraduate research benefit in the following ways:

  • Connecting with students and faculty that share academic interests
  • Better understanding of research methods
  • Deeper understanding of the discipline
  • Greater confidence and independence
  • Better understanding of career and education path

In addition, the literature also indicates that student who participate in research and scholarship are:

  • More satisfied with their college experience
  • Retained and persist at a higher rate, both at the university and within their major
  • More likely to be accepted to graduate and professional school and graduate.
  • More competitive when searching for jobs


Mentoring from Different Perspectives in Two Parts (For Faculty)

February 28, 2024 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

This workshop will provide opportunities for faculty and staff to consider how to support student mentees with a focus on trust and belonging.  In the first session, we will collectively reflect...

Get Involved in Undergraduate Research

March 12, 2024 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

This session will introduce students to the ins and outs of undergraduate research. We will discuss what undergraduate university research is (and isn’t), what you can expect from a variety of...

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How to Get 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 September 7, 2023