I am interested in doing undergraduate research, but I am not sure where to start. What should I do?

If you are interested in engaging in undergraduate research, you have come to the right place! The Undergraduate Research Office staff is here to help you get started on the exciting journey of research. Make an appointment with us today using My Journey to discuss your interests and explore the options available to you! 

I am a first-year student. Can I do research?

Yes, you can, and many students jump into undergraduate research during their first year at Case Western Reserve University. However, it is not a requirement, and for many students, we recommend taking some time (a semester, or even a year) to make the transition to life as a college student and adjust to your new academic, social and (perhaps) geographic environment. Once you are settled in, you may find it easier to identify and benefit from a research opportunity.

Can I do research outside my major?

Yes! As a research intensive university, many of our undergraduates are working with faculty at the School of Medicine, faculty and staff at the Cleveland Clinic, at the VA. and at the museums in University Circle.  Also, many research projects, whether students’ independent projects or those related to a faculty’s research program, are interdisciplinary. Students with various disciplinary backgrounds and skills can be especially useful in a large project. Be prepared to speak to the specific skills that you can contribute to a project inside or outside your major.

Can I get academic credit for my research?

In many cases, yes. Most undergraduate academic departments have a course number specifically for undergraduate research.  Some departments utilize the independent study course number for undergraduate research.  Some academic majors require undergraduate research.  Paid research activities are not eligible for academic credit.  However, students may receive funding for work beyond the course credit requirements. 

What do I need to do in order to receive academic credit for my research or creative endeavor?

Students who are seeking credit for research within their academic major, may make an appointment with their academic advisor to discuss receiving academic credit within the department.  Students may receive academic credit in their academic major if the project is within the discipline and even if their project mentor is outside of the major department's undergraduate faculty. For example, a biology major may work with a faculty mentor in the School of Medicine's department of genetics and genome sciences or with a mentor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Center.  

Students also may receive academic credit for research that is outside of their academic major. For example, a premed psychology major is working in a lab in the School of Medicine's department of physiology and biophysics. The student will want to make an appointment with the undergraduate academic representative in the undergraduate department for which they are seeking credit. To continue with our example: our premed psychology major may want biology undergraduate research credit for their project in physiology and biophysics. The student will want to make an appointment with the undergraduate academic representative in biology. The biology department's academic representative(s) can guide students through the biology department's process for receiving undergraduate research credit.

Can I receive pay during the academic year for participating in research?

Yes.  Students who are paid during the academic year, most often are paid through their project mentors.

Can I do research away from the CWRU campus?

Absolutely! We encourage our students to take advantage of any good opportunity with which they are presented, whether it be on- or off-campus. During the summer our students conduct research across the United States and around the world.  

Can I receive funding for summer research at my hometown university?

The Undergraduate Research Office considers summer applications in the social sciences, humanities and the arts with faculty mentors who are not CWRU faculty or affiliates.  The Undergraduate Research Office cannot provide summer funding for STEM projects with faculty mentors outside of the university or our affiliated institutions.

Can I receive funding to travel to a conference to present my research?

Yes!  One way the Undergraduate Research Office celebrates undergraduate researchers is to provide travel funding to present their work.  Travel applications are considered throughout the year on a rolling basis. You can find information about The Undergraduate Research Office travel funding here.

Students certainly will want to discuss travel funding with project mentors who often may have funds to support a trip to a conference for you to present your work. The Undergraduate Research Office also encourages students to communicate with their department chairs.  

How much of a time commitment is undergraduate research?

Your individual time commitment will be determined by you and your research mentor. During the academic year, most undergraduates spend between 5 and 12 hours a week on average conducting research. Summer research opportunities are typically full-time with some exceptions. 

What is Intersections Poster Session?

Intersections is a celebration of undergraduate researchers! It is held three times a year in the summer, fall and spring (typically in August, December and April).  Intersections provides an opportunity for all undergraduate students to present their research and creative projects, whether on-going or recently completed, to the university community. It also allows students not yet engaged in undergraduate research or creative endeavors to see the broad and diverse work that is being done across campus and learn how to get involved in research or creative endeavors. 

Who can participate in Intersections?

All undergraduate students who are or have been involved in research and/or creative endeavors are encouraged to participate. In addition, students who obtain any type of funding through SOURCE or an affiliated program are required to present at Intersections.

What are the benefits of participating?

Presenting your undergraduate research or creative endeavor project in a formal setting is a mark of accomplishment and is itself an educational experience. Some have said that research is never done until it is “out there” in presentation or article form. Presenting your work in a formal setting gives you the opportunity to speak about your work and take questions from others who know your field well and from those who do not. You learn from both experiences. In addition, the experience is excellent preparation for graduate school, and you can include your participation on your resume and graduate school applications.

Where do I go for assistance with preparing and printing my poster?

The Undergraduate Research Office offers information sessions prior to each Intersections to help students design and develop an effective poster as well as tips for presenting your work. Your faculty project mentor and other team members also will offer guidance.  

Several places on campus offer printing services