Getting Started


Mandy Yan & Dr. Claudia Lampman

Mandy Yan & Dr. Claudia Lampman

When looking for a research or creative project topic, keep an open mind.  Inspiration may come from a class, a personal experience, or a funding or research opportunity.  Try to find what is available and match existing opportunities with your interests and capabilities.

Before deciding on a research project, consider your goals, interests and time frame.  Things to think about include:

  • What do you hope to gain through your research experience?
  • What do you know about research in your field or area of interest?
  • Is there a faculty member working in your area of interest who might be willing to mentor you?
  • Are there particular skills you need to develop or courses you need to take before embarking on your project?
  • Will your project require special approvals, such as working with human or animal subjects or hazardous materials? (For more information on research ethics, please visit UAA's Research Integrity and Compliance website.)
  • Will your project require funding?  Read about funding opportunities.
  • How much time will you realistically have to devote to completing your project?
  • Will you get credit for your research, and if so, what course(s) will you register for?
  • Will your project be done independently on your own schedule, or will you need to mesh your research with other ongoing research?

Finding a faculty mentor who can help you through your project can be crucial to your success.  Mentoring relationships vary widely across disciplines and departments, and according to the student's and mentor's time, experience, skill and preference.  When considering a potential faculty mentor, think about:

  • What faculty shares your interests?
  • Is the faculty mentor willing to help you through an independent research project?
  • What do you expect from a research mentor?  What type of relationship do you expect to have?
  • What is your preferred research environment?
  • When you approach a faculty mentor, be knowledgeable about their research, and be specific about your interests, qualifications and expectations.  Have questions ready for them and thank them for their time.

When looking for possible faculty mentors and possible research projects, sources can include:

  • OURS Undergraduate Database
  • Departmental web sites and faculty profiles
  • University web sites and publications about past and ongoing faculty research projects
  • Faculty publications and performances such as journal articles, books, lectures and productions
  • University web sites dedicated to undergraduate research such as the OURS Listings for UAA Faculty Research
  • Recommendations from faculty and university departments for possible mentors
  • Speaking to other students who have worked with faculty mentors
  • Talking to faculty in person about their research interests

Many of these topics are covered in the following Workshop on Undergraduate Research recorded on Jan 29, 2010.