Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You will need to rely on the advice, mentorship and guidance of a long list of faculty, graduate students and peers to be successful.
Often students find it helpful to discuss their interests and ideas with faculty mentors or peers in order to gain insight and the advice of experts. We encourage you to reach out to your instructors, faculty advisor, graduate students, speak with your peers, talk with a librarian, or meet with us to discuss your research interests (firstname.lastname@example.org), especially if you are unsure of how, or where to start.
Another option is to speak with a faculty member(s) that is doing research in the area(s) that you are interested in. To do so, look into two options:
- If you’re taking a course with a faculty member that you would like to speak with, you can arrange to visit with them during their scheduled office hours.
- If you discover a faculty member through a search of their online profile, you can attempt to reach out to them via email to schedule an appointment.
We know that contacting a faculty member for the first time can be a little intimidating, so we have put together a UROP – sample email to faculty that you can use as a template. Regardless of which method you select, it is important to be prepared before contacting and meeting with faculty. Below is some basic guidance:
- Always be professional, courteous, and follow-through.
- Perform your due diligence and read up on the faculty member. Know their background and research interests.
- Between teaching, performing their own research, and keeping up with other commitments, faculty members are busy. So when you make appointments and commitments with them, make sure to show up or provide ample notice that you won’t be able to.
- Your time is valuable too. Between courses, studying, extra-curricular activities, and work, students are incredibly busy as well. So come prepared with specific questions and a general idea about your general goals and the amount of time that you will be able to commit to research.
During the meeting make sure to take notes and write down any key pieces of advice.
After you have received advice, perhaps from multiple sources, it is time to try and narrow down your interests and focus your efforts.