Research and Economic Development

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Undergraduate Research

UNLV offers a variety of opportunities for undergraduates to enhance their educational experience through participation in research. Many students find involvement in research a rewarding way to examine a subject in depth, to gain valuable skills, and to expand learning beyond the classroom. Motivated and hard-working undergraduates are encouraged to seek out research opportunities with their professors and explore the possibilities that research can offer.

Understanding Research

Research is the discovery of new knowledge. Occurring in virtually every discipline, research is guided by faculty members and typically begins with a review of existing literature on a given subject. But true academic research involves much more, including data collection, use of appropriate research methods, analysis of results, and development of conclusions. Preparation for research usually involves various types of training in technique, procedures, and guidelines. Ideally, the research process results in presentation of research findings in a scholarly setting and publication in a scholarly journal or other compilation of scholarly/creative works. In some disciplines, creative activity is considered the equivalent of research and results in other forms of presentation, such as exhibitions or performances.

It should be noted, however, that research and scholarly/creative activity are complex processes that can take many months, even years, and may lead to continuation of a project at the graduate level. For the dedicated undergraduate, this is a challenge worth undertaking.

Accessing the UG Research Experience

There are a number ways undergraduate students may become involved in research. Some students volunteer to participate in an existing project, and some gain course credit for their involvement on a project. Some are hired by faculty members to work on grant-funded projects; others may have a novel idea they would like to explore in depth and are able to find a faculty member who is willing to guide this effort.

Many faculty members post undergraduate research opportunities on their websites. They may have certain requirements before accepting students, however; for example, they may expect a student to have succeeded in certain courses or to have achieved a certain level in their education. Generally, academic success is a minimum prerequisite to involvement in research.

Tips for Undergraduates Interested in Research

Those interested in pursuing research should speak with their professors about their scholarly work and ask if they are currently accepting undergraduates on their research teams. Undergraduates should also consider the following tips when pursuing an undergraduate research opportunity:

  • Be genuinely interested in the professor’s area of research.
  • Review the faculty member’s website, curriculum vitae, and/or scholarly publications before approaching him or her.
  • Be willing to work on a team, perhaps under the supervision of a graduate research assistant.
  • Be prepared to provide a resume and a writing sample.
  • Be prepared to participate in training before beginning work.