Is Undergraduate Research for You?
Use this checklist to help you decide if participating in undergraduate research is right for you.
In the right place? If you already know that you want to do research, link to Research Opportunities for Students.
Assess your interest in doing research and think about your goals.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Are you interested in a more thorough exploration of a subject you already know fairly well?
- Are you interested in being introduced to a new subject?
- Are you hoping this experience will help you decide whether to attend graduate or professional school?
- Do you have time for a 10-15 hour/week commitment?
- Are you willing to do volunteer work?
- Are you looking for a full-time summer program (perhaps involving travel)?
- Do you have a faculty research mentor in mind?
- Do you wish to receive academic credit?
- Do you want/need a salary/stipend/scholarship?
Think about the type of research you might like to do.
Read about what research is, and learn about the different types.
Research is a systematic inquiry that establishes findings, investigates hypotheses, suggests new interpretations of data or texts, and poses new questions for future research to explore.
In practice, research methods take on many different patterns and vary widely, depending upon the academic discipline??s accepted standards, the individual researcher??s preferences, or a particular study??s needs.
Broadly speaking, research is divided into 3 categories:
- Basic (or pure): Generally characterized by exploration of the theoretical and performed to further the frontiers of human knowledge.
- Applied (or practical): Generally characterized by experimental investigation with the goal of discovering solutions to specific, existing problems defined in advance by researchers. The results of this type of research can be "applied" or directly realized in some practical application.
- Clinical: Generally conducted in a clinical setting like a hospital or medical clinic, and focuses on discovering cures for specific human/animal diseases or other health problems. Such research, building upon knowledge gained through basic and applied research, results in treatments and drugs that directly improve human healthcare.
Know which departments offer research opportunities.
Undergraduate research experiences are available in virtually every academic discipline at UCSD, including
- Chemistry and biochemistry
- Humanities and social sciences
- Cognitive and neurosciences
- Structural and civil engineering
- Ethnic studies
- Arts and humanities
- Biomedical research
- Electrical and computer engineering
- Political science
Get firsthand information from others who have done research.
Talk to friends, advanced students, faculty members, program staff, and others familiar with serious research. Questions to ask include:
- How did you get involved in this particular area of research?
- Why is your particular area of research important?
- Where does funding for your research come from?
- What does an undergraduate working with you typically do?
Think about research as it relates to your major, personal interests, and career goals.
Link to this list of undergraduate research opportunities to do the following:
- Determine which programs are suitable for first- and second-year students and which are best for upper division or transfer students. Look for eligibility requirements, including GPA or ethnicity, citizenship, or other conditions of participation.
- Identify programs or positions that mesh with your goal of becoming a physician, economist, professor, filmmaker, biomedical engineer, or other professional.