How do I get started?
Because it is a requirement that all undergraduate research be supervised by a faculty or staff member, your first step is finding someone to be your mentor. Be proactive! It is unlikely that anyone will approach you – you need to make the effort and seek out these opportunities. You should approach faculty members with whom you have had classes or whose research interests match your own. You can check out the webpages of faculty members in your major/minor to find out what their research interests are.
Undergraduate research opportunities are often competitive, so be sure to engage in behaviors that make you stand out from the crowd. For example, be sure to maintain a high GPA (faculty mentors can be selective about the students with whom they work). Take classes with professors with whom you might want to work, and be a stellar student in those classes (sit in the front, ask questions, complete all assignments early, visit during office hours, etc.). Visit professors during their office hours and talk to them about their research interests – indicate you would love to help out with any ongoing research projects.
Here are some quick ways to get started through the Office of Undergraduate Research:
- First-Year Scholars Program - designed to pair first-year students with faculty mentors who will guide them on research in their disciplines.
- Undergraduate Research Club - any student can join and conduct research as part of an interdisciplinary team.
- Current Research Projects - listing of projects to help undergraduates find faculty who are looking for assistance on their research activities.
- Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program - any student can complete a student application to work on a large-scale research project with faculty and other students.
You do not need to have a specific idea in mind when approaching a faculty member to do research. Many students work with faculty members on their research, especially at first.
Can I get credit for doing research?
Yes – most departments have a course called Directed Study (using the 4400 designation) that can be used for credit toward research participation. Some departments may have other courses that involve research; check with your department if you’re not sure. You can also volunteer to do research without credit if the faculty member agrees to it.
Can I get funding for doing research?
Yes! Students are eligible for funding to travel to conferences to present their research or to purchase supplies/materials to conduct their research. Faculty mentors can receive grants in which some of the funding is used for supplies and student travel. External funding options are also available – check with your department to see what’s out there.
What are the IRB requirements for undergraduate researchers?
IRB stands for Institutional Review Board. The purpose of the IRB "is to regulate all research activities involving human subjects on the campus of Kennesaw State University, ensuring that people who participate in research are treated ethically and in compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations."
If your research involves human or animal subjects, you need IRB approval before you can start your project. This involves completing an online ethics training module, submitting (with a faculty mentor) an IRB form along with all of your research materials, and closing your study when it is complete. If you have any questions about the process, you can email the IRB at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as visiting the FAQ section of the IRB website.
How much time will be involved?
This varies considerably depending on the discipline, the project, the student, and the faculty mentor. Some students complete their research projects in a semester. Other students may work with faculty members for several years on several different projects. The amount of time during the semester varies a great deal as well. For example, if you are earning three credits for your Directed Study, the workload should be equivalent to what you would expect in any three-credit course. You will need to negotiate with your faculty mentor with regard to the amount of time you will spend each week on your undergraduate research project.
Do I have to wait until I am a senior to get involved?
No! Many faculty members would prefer to begin working with undergraduates sooner so that there is more time to complete a project or even multiple projects. In some programs, less-experienced students work as apprentices for a period of time before making more substantial contributions to the research. It is important to find out the norms in your discipline early on so you can plan accordingly.
What are the requirements for conducting undergraduate research?
All undergraduate research at KSU needs to be supervised by a member of the faculty or staff with expertise in the area. Beyond that, requirements vary by department and by supervisor. In general, it is a good idea to have taken some coursework on research methods and perhaps statistics, but that is not always a requirement. Some departments have requirements for a particular grade point average.
What do I do when I finish a research project?
We hope that you will be involved in presenting the research at a conference and getting your research published in some way (although be sure to avoid self-plagiarism when you do). Ask your faculty mentor for the best way for your project to find an audience.