Research Expectations

Jolene Rearick, Dr. Garry Davies, and George Sage

Jolene Rearick conducts genetic analysis of eelgrass populations with faculty mentor Dr. Garry Davies and USGS Geneticist George Sage.

Research expectations will vary according to discipline and individual faculty preferences. The following list outlines some general faculty expectations.

  • Commitment to Learning. Successful undergraduate researchers demonstrate a genuine desire to expand their own knowledge. Your intellectual curiosity may be your most important asset.

  • Self-motivation. Successful undergraduate researchers demonstrate the ability to work independently. Your supervisor should not have to prompt you to show up for work or finish a project.

  • Good Communication Skills. It is your responsibility to report progress and seek guidance when you need it. If you encounter a problem or make a mistake, discuss it with your faculty supervisor right away.

  • Time Commitment. Some professors may require that you work regular hours each week or that you commit to multiple semesters of work. Be sure to discuss expectations about time and procedures for recording the hours you work.

  • Research Ethics. Whether you are working with human subjects or dealing with original documents, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the ethical conventions in your field.

  • Coursework. Some professors may prefer to work with students who have completed a specific course or courses. When you have identified a faculty member with whom you would like to work, check to see if s/he lists any “preferred coursework.” If possible, interview other students who have worked with this professor.

  • Course credit. Some professors may prefer that you pursue course credit for your research experience. If you register for independent study or research hours, you should inform yourself about the requirements.

Excerpted from:
Monte, A. (2001). Mentor expectations and student responsibilities in undergraduate research. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, XXII(2), 67-71.