What is Research...

What is ResearchWhat is undergraduate research? 

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), it is: “A mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge.” https://www.cur.org/about/what-is-undergraduate-research/ 

Undergraduate research projects are mentored by a faculty or staff member with expertise in the research methods of his or her discipline. The project should make a unique contribution to the literature in the student's field(s). It is strongly encouraged that the student present or publish the project. After all, if you "make an original intellectual or creative contribution to your discipline," you need to let others know about it so they can learn from and build on your work.

Why should I get involved in undergraduate research?

Undergraduate research is one of the ten “high-impact educational practices” that promote deep learning and engage students (Kuh, 2008). There are numerous benefits associated with undergraduate research – for example, increased retention, progression, & graduation rates, increased rates of attending graduate school, better success once in graduate school, improvements in critical thinking, improvements in writing and public speaking, etc. (Bauer & Bennett, 2003; Hathaway et al., 2002; Nagda et al., 1998; Nnadozie et al., 2001). In general, you’ll become professionally socialized through your undergraduate research experiences; you’ll learn professional conduct and begin to acquire the skills and attitudes associated with your discipline (Hunter et al., 2006; Lopatto, 2007; Seymour et al., 2004). And finally, undergraduate research has been shown to involve the competencies that employers want from college graduates (Mekolichick, 2021).


Bauer, K. W., & Bennett, J. S. (2003). Alumni perceptions used to assess undergraduate research experience. Journal of Higher Education, 74, 210–230.

Hathaway, R. S., Nagda, B. A., & Gregerman, S. R. (2002). The relationship of undergraduate research participation to graduate and professional education pursuit: An empirical study. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 614–631.

Hunter, A., Laursen, S. L., & Seymour, E. (2006). Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students’ cognitive, personal, and professional development. Science Education, 91, 36–74.

Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Lopatto, D. (2007). Undergraduate research experiences support science career decisions and active learning. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 6, 297–306.

Nagda, B. A., Gregerman, S. R., Jonides, J., von Hippel, W., & Lerner, J. S. (1998). Undergraduate student-faculty research partnerships affect student retention. The Review of Higher Education, 22, 55–72.

Nnadozie, E., Ishiyama, J., & Chon, J. (2001). Undergraduate research internships and graduate school success. Journal of College Student Development, 42, 145–156.

Mekolichick, J. (2021, November). Mapping the impacts of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry experiences to the NACE career readiness competencies. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Retrieved from https://www.naceweb.org/career-readiness/competencies/mapping-the-impacts-of-undergraduate-research-scholarship-and-creative-inquiry-experiences-to-the-nace-career-readiness-competencies/ 

Seymour, E., Hunter, A., Laursen, S. L., & Deantoni, T. (2004). Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: First findings from a three-year study. Science Education, 88, 493–534.