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How do I get involved?
There are many ways for undergraduates to get involved with research at Florida State University. All you need is a faculty member to work with and a mutually agreeable project to work on.
Steps that you can take to preparing for a research experience.
- What interests you? Make a list of your interests, even though they may not all be related to your major.
- Look for research opportunities in these areas. Visit department and college websites as a starting point.
- Start doing some research of your own into the faculty members in your department or college, or the department in which you want to do research. See what kinds of work they are doing. See what is of interest to you. It is never too early to make contact with a professor. Plus when you have taken the time to look into their work, it is far easier to approach a professor with a specific question or observation about their work. Visit the professor’s website, and go to their office hours. If they are unable to accommodate your request, ask if they could suggest and other faculty members who may be a good match for your interests.
- Take liberal studies courses in areas that you may be interested in doing research.
- Talk to your academic advisor about how research is done for course credit in your department or college
- Attend department, college, and university research presentations (invited lectures, dissertation and thesis defenses) to get an idea of the breadth of the research being done at Florida State University. Talk to other students who are doing research in the field that interests you.
- In the sciences, look to get involved with a research lab as early as possible. Many professors need help in their labs cleaning up and organizing materials. If you do this for a couple of semesters, then you will already know the lay of the lab when you are ready to begin research
Note on Human and Animal Subjects:
There are special requirements for research projects that will involve human or animal subjects. Students who will be working with human or animal subjects should consult with their research advisor to see if approval for their project must be sought from the Institutional Review board (IRB) in the Office of Research.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can OUR match me up with a research position or topic?
- Do you have to be in the honors program to do research?
- Is research only done in a lab?
- Can I do research if I am a freshman?
- Is it too late to do research if I am a senior?
- When should I start looking for a research position?
- Are there prerequisites for doing research?
- Can I get credit for doing research?
- Can I do research outside of my major?
- How should I go about contacting a faculty member with whom I would like to do research?
- What is an REU?
- Are there any special requirements for research involving human or animal subjects?
1. Can OUR match me up with a research position or topic?
The Office of Undergraduate Research does not directly match students with positions or topics, or have a ready list of position openings. We advertise existing research opportunities to help out students, and will always guide you through the steps that you need to take in order to find a research mentor/opportunity. Our program is designed to assist you in finding the resources you need to identify a faculty research mentor, advise you on how to approach the mentor and support you through the research process. Check our website frequently for links to programs, opportunities, and information that may help you to get involved; we will be updating the website as we obtain information about new opportunities.
Honors student status is not a requirement for research involvement or funding, except for scholarships offered explicitly through the honors program or for an honors thesis. Non-honors students may apply to be a part of the Honors in the Major program: http://honorsinthemajor.fsu.edu/ Students can also do research within the context of a Directed Independent Study (DIS); this option requires working out the details with a faculty member who will direct your research and study on a specific topic of mutual interest. We encourage every student to consider involvement in a research opportunity as an undergraduate.
3. Is research only done in a lab?
Research takes place in a variety of locations, such as laboratory, libraries/archives, in the field, on the computer, in a studio, in the theater. The research location will depend on the discipline, the research, and the methodology being used.
4. Can I do research if I am a freshman?
Absolutely! However, the type of research will often be determined by your experience and course work. Depending on your field of interest, some professors may require you to finish certain courses prior to beginning any research. Many research labs will allow students to help with tasks around the lab, thus providing you experience in the lab that will prove to be invaluable once you are ready to begin research.
5. Is it too late to do research if I am a senior?
No! Many students do their research projects in their senior year. It is important that you plan carefully and work with your research mentor to establish a project as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more limited your choices will be.
6. When should I start looking for a research position?
It is never too early to start investigating and making contacts with potential faculty mentors. If you are interested in starting research in the fall, you should be trying to secure a position the prior spring. Be prepared to speak to the faculty mentor about your schedule and your interests and goals in research. If you are having trouble finding a position, don’t give up! Speak to advisors and faculty in the department about potential faculty mentors who have a reputation for working with undergraduates. Also, some professors may not be sure of the number of students they will be able to take on when you speak to them; follow up with them later in the semester.
7. Are there prerequisites for doing research?
This will depend on your area of research and your faculty mentor. Some disciplines will require relevant experience or course work. You will also develop research skills as you become involved. Some majors, such as Biology and Political Science, offer specific courses designed to introduce students to research and are helpful to the student who wants to begin undergraduate research
8. Can I get credit for doing research?
Absolutely. Most research for credit is done as either Honors in the Major or as Directed Independent Study. Policies will vary by department, so please check with your academic advisor.
9. Can I do research outside of my major?
Yes. Most students choose to do research within their major area of study, but some students choose to do research in the area of their minor or in an area of study in which they are extremely interested. It is very important that you discuss your desire to do research outside of your major area with an advisor to determine if there will be any impact on your academic progress that results from this decision (i.e. Will you be able to stay on course on your academic map? Will you be adding extra time to your degree program?).
10. How should I go about contacting a faculty member with whom I would like to do research?
Students should speak with a potential faculty mentor directly. Check the departmental website for office hours. Students should prepare for the meeting by familiarizing themselves with the research being done by the faculty member. Take some time to consider how your background, interests, and experience overlap with that of the faculty member. Be prepared to engage the faculty member in a discussion about their research and your interest in it (a simple, “hey I need for you to take me on to do research next semester” will not suffice!)
E-mail may be the best form of communication for some faculty members. When e-mailing a professor, be specific in the subject line (e.g., Interested in discussing your research). You should discuss your interest in the professor’s research and demonstrate a familiarity with the subject. Be specific (what semester you would like to begin research) and concise.
11. What is an REU?
REU stand for Research Experience for Undergraduates. Most of them are sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduates through its REU sites across the nation. Interested students complete an application process that is competitive. Funded student will be associated with a specific research project, where he/she will work closely with a researcher on topics in the sciences. Students are granted stipends and in may cases, assistance with housing and travel. What a great experience for students who want to spend a summer getting started in research. For more information, go to http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/index.jsp
12. Are there any special requirements for research involving human or animal subjects?
Yes, there are federal regulations governing the use of human and animal subjects in research. Go to http://www.research.fsu.edu/humansubjects/index.html the website for the Office of Research for the guidelines regarding research that involves human subjects.