Research Opportunities for Undergraduates
Doing research at the undergraduate level can be extremely worthwhile and rewarding. In addition to enhancing your resume, research opportunities offer an experience that allows you to expand your perspectives on how knowledge can be applied and utilized. Research opportunities provide a space for intellectual growth that is firmly grounded in your own interests. By participating in research as an undergraduate you will strengthen both your future professional career possibilities and options for graduate study.
The first step in pursuing a research project is to identify a general topic area of interest. Begin by writing down a list of possible topics you want to explore in more depth. The foundation of a research project usually takes shape in the form of a question or questions. Think about topics from previous courses that continue to hold your interest. What remaining questions do you have about this topic? As you identify some possible questions for your research project, keep in mind ways that you might go about answering these questions. Use your questions as the foundation for mapping out the general direction of your research.
Finding a mentor for conducting research is an important step in the research process. After identifying a topic of interest, you will need to select a faculty member who can oversee and guide your research explorations. Start by visiting department web sites to read about faculty research interests. Work to identify a faculty member (or two) who conduct research in an area that is similar to your own area of interest. A professor who shares your research interests is a good candidate to serve as your faculty mentor. If you have trouble identifying a faculty member with mutual interests, make an appointment to meet with possible mentors and discuss the aim of your project. These conversations can often lead to the discovery of a fitting mentor for your specific interests.
Once you have faculty mentor who has agreed to work with you, your next step will be to conduct a search for related literature on the specific subject of interest. Good research often builds on the work of past researchers. As you discover research that already exists on your specific topic, use it as a basis for understanding how others have approached this subject in the past. What questions have already been asked/answered? How has research on this topic previously been conducted? This information will help you to narrow the focus of your own research project. It will further provide you with background information on the specific subject area. At Goddard Library you consult a librarian and learn about accessing several online databases that can assist you in carrying out this search.
A key aspect of doing undergraduate research is the occasion it provides for you to apply your creativity in a learning setting. After identifying a topic of interest and a faculty mentor to support you in your research endeavors, the research experience can become a space for hands-on learning. While honing the ability to complete tasks on your own, you will sharpen your critical thinking skills. As a researcher and a member of a research team, you will gain insight from the experience of working collaboratively with others and considering alternate perspectives.
Funding for undergraduate research at Clark is available in several forms. For more information about funding opportunities at Clark, visit the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research.
In addition, Clark offers merit-based scholarships including:
- Achievement Award Scholarships
- Making a Difference Scholarship
- Presidential Scholarships
- Strassler Scholarship
- Traina Scholarship
For more information on any of the scholarships listed above, visit Admissions and Financial Aid for Clark Students.
Information on scholarships that are department specific can be viewed at Resources and Funding Opportunities.
The Council on Undergraduate Research provides undergraduates with opportunities for presenting and publishing their research findings.
Journals that focus on publishing undergraduate academic research include:
The Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review gives undergraduates throughout the country an avenue for publication of original scholarship which might otherwise go unnoticed. The review process of the PUR is similar to that of professional academic journals. At least two referees with expertise in fields related to the topic of each prospective article are chosen from a pool of faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh and surrounding institutions. These referees evaluate the paper with regard to originality and clarity, as well as quality of reasoning and research.
The Art and Literary Journal - Analecta produced annually by students at the University of Texas at Austin, Analecta is comprised of student art and previously unpublished student literature collected from a contest held at over 280 colleges and universities each fall - Available online.
The Dualist: Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy - The Dualist is a publication dedicated to recognizing valuable undergraduate contributions in philosophy and to providing a medium for undergraduate discourse on topics of philosophical interest. It was created by students at Stanford University in 1994 and has since featured submissions from undergraduates around the world. The journal is published each spring and is distributed to philosophy departments across the nation - Available online.
CalTech Undergraduate Research Journal Submissions are welcomed from undergraduates at all educational institutions - Available online.
Furman University Electronic Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics - Available online.
Morehead Electronic Journal of Applicable Mathematics - Available online.
Origin The Higher Education Academy Centre for Bioscience: Publishing undergraduate research in an extra-curricula house journal. Origin is an undergraduate journal to publish research work by students. Origin was devised to offer a genuine experience of research publication to students in response to a perceived need as a significant proportion of students go on to further discipline-specific study or research within their degree is completed - Available online.
Pi Mu Epsilon Journal Papers and mathematical problems by and for members - Available online.
Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Journal Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Undergraduate Mathematics Journal - Available online.
The Journal of Undergraduate Sciences - Available online.
The Pentagon: The Official Journal of Kappa Mu Epsilon, mathematics honor society - Available online.
Bios Journal Focus: emphasis on undergraduate biology research papers as well as training and professional issues for biologists Founded 1930, Publishes quarterly in print. Research articles by undergrads; reviews & histories by faculty editors. Target audience = BBB members.
Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) Focus: undergraduate research in science, mathematics, and engineering Founded 1998, Publishes research triannually and features monthly on the web. Research & reviews by undergrads; other content by all undergraduate editors. Target audience = undergraduates.
Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal publishes research by undergraduates in the science and engineering fields. It is published annually during the Spring semester by the Columbia University Libraries.
Journal of Behavioral and Neuroscience Research (JBNR). Focus: research in Psychology and Neuroscience, particularly studies that integrate behavioral and neuroscience techniques Founded 2003, Publishes biannually on the web. Research articles by undergraduates and faculty. Faculty editors. Target audience = Neuroscientists
Impulse - Focus: undergraduate neuroscience research articles Founded 2004, Will publish on the web Articles by undergraduates. Undergraduate editors. Target audience = undergraduates.
Nexus: journal of undergraduate science, engineering and technology aims to provide a model and a means of integrating and promoting the teaching/research nexus within the undergraduate curriculum at the University of Tasmania.
Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences (JPBS). Focus: articles in any topical area of psychology Founded 1966, Publishes annually in print with abstracts on the web. Articles are by undergraduates and graduate students. Graduate student & undergrad editors. Target audience = psychologists
Modern Psychological Studies (MPS). Focus: experimental psychological research, as well as theoretical papers, literature reviews, and book reviews Founded 1993, Publishes biannually in print and on the web Articles by undergraduates. Undergraduate editors. Target audience = undergraduates.
Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. Focus: the work of undergraduate psychology students Founded 1996, Publishes quarterly in print with abstracts on the web Articles by undergraduates. Faculty editors. Target audience = Psi Chi Members.
The American Undergraduate Journal of Politics and Government provides a competitive, bi-annual platform exclusively for undergraduate papers. Students from any class and major are encouraged to submit papers to one of four divisions encompassed by the Journal: American Politics Comparative Politics, International Relations Political Theory The Journal's Editorial Board is comprised of undergraduate peers at Purdue University, who endeavor each semester to publish manuscripts of the highest academic quality.
Useful web links with more information on conducting undergraduate research
The Web Guide to Research for Undergraduates is an interactive web-based tool intended to assist undergraduates navigate the hurdles of an undergraduate research experience. Visit this site for Fellowships and Awards in support of graduate research and for information on Undergraduate Research Programs.
Regional Presentation Opportunities
New England Science Symposium (Harvard Medical School)