Recommendations for First-Year Students Interested in Research

Why consider research?

As a new student at Case Western Reserve University, you have joined a research-intensive community with a historic tradition of involving undergraduates in research and creative endeavors. Regardless of your major or academic interests, there are numerous opportunities to engage in research either on campus with CWRU faculty or elsewhere during the summer. Although a few students may already have participated in research through summer programs at a local university or in private industry, many of you may not have even considered engaging in such opportunities during your undergraduate career. Regardless of your past experience, there are a number of reasons why you should consider becoming involved in research endeavors during your undergraduate experience and it is never too early to begin exploring opportunities

Participation in undergraduate research and creative endeavors offers you the opportunity to connect with the academic community at levels the classroom experience does not provide. Engaging in research will allow you to create mentoring relationships with individual faculty members and can be the gateway to developing a professional network that will open up opportunities for you whether you continue in graduate and professional studies or enter the workforce. Research projects also allow you to integrate academic theories learned in the classroom with practical experiences at a deeper and more meaningful level. In addition, these endeavors can enhance valuable workplace skills such as verbal and written communication, teamwork, and adaptability. Finally, participating in research at the undergraduate level is an excellent way to distinguish yourself when it comes time to apply for graduate and professional schools.

Beginning the search for opportunities

The SOURCE (Support of Undergraduate Research & Creative Endeavors) Office is the place to start your exploration of the numerous on and off-campus opportunities for undergraduate research that are available. Be sure to visit SOURCE’s website in order to learn more about the variety of opportunities that might be available in your academic area of interest. Consider registering for the four-part Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Seminar Series that is offered during the fall semester. Students who attend all four sessions receive a Certificate of Completion. During the fall semester, plan to attend one of the almost weekly Info Sessions that will be conducted by SOURCE to provide you with additional information on the process of identifying research opportunities. Be sure to check the First-Year Information Newsletter that you will receive on a weekly basis for times and locations of information sessions throughout the fall semester. Once you have reviewed the information from the website and attended an information session, you will want to make an appointment with Dr. Sheila Pedigo, Director of SOURCE, to discuss what opportunities will best fit your goals and schedule. You can reach the SOURCE office at 216.368.2180 or

To-Do List for First-Year Students Interested in Research

  1. Review SOURCE's website to learn about various on- and off-campus research opportunities available for undergraduate students.
  2. Analyze your schedule and think about the commitments you want to make both academically and socially at CWRU to determine how research might fit within your other responsibilities. Work on defining a schedule that will help you achieve success, and then determine which type of research opportunities will fit.
  3. Register and attend the four-part Responsible Conduct of Research Seminar Sessions offered during the fall semester. Students who complete the four-part series receive a Certificate of Completion. The seminars are a great way to prepare for the research process.
  4. Attend a SOURCE information session during the fall semester to learn more about undergraduate research opportunities. Be sure to check the First-Year Information Newsletter and The Daily for times and locations.
  5. Attend lectures and presentations sponsored by departments and schools at CWRU. These series will provide a picture of what research is currently being conducted at CWRU and at the national level by faculty and students. The SOURCE office can help you learn about these opportunities.
  6. In November, begin to review the SOURCE website for summer research opportunities at CWRU and elsewhere. Application deadlines for summer positions begin in December and go through March.
  7. Use the winter break period to seek positions that you might want to pursue for the summer.
  8. During your first year, make an appointment with Dr. Sheila Pedigo, Director of SOURCE, to discuss your research interests. To schedule an appointment call 216.368.2180 or stop by the SOURCE office in Sears Building 451.