Independent Undergraduate Research
If you're interested in participating in independent research, talk to a professor
What are the benefits to participating in research?
Students who engage in research as undergraduates gain insight into the professional
world, enhance their knowledge base and critical thinking skills, and better prepare
themselves for graduate school or employment. Research is a hands-on method to learn
new ways to solve problems and thoroughly explore different subject areas. With faculty
mentors, students receive guidance on research methods, resources, and issues common
in different fields. To learn more about research opportunities in your field of study,
speak with your academic advisor.
What are the different ways to become involved?
Assist with a Faculty Research Project
Working with a faculty member on an existing research project is a great way to gain
valuable experience in conducting research. Students learn important methods, skills,
and tips on how to approach common challenges in research.
Check out some of the work that has resulted from faculty-student collaborations,
made available in the IWU Digital Commons.
Independent Research Project
Some students choose to pursue their own independent research project, which may have
grown out of work on another project or the student's own passion for a particular
area. One common form of independent research is an Honors Project, but all students can undertake their own research project. Ideally, a student meets
regularly with a faculty mentor who provides advice and encouragement.
Within the independent research project scope, there are many ways to approach a project.
A student may be conducting research on their own or working on an honors project;
their project may have developed through studying abroad, an internship, or community
service. The following are a few resources on campus that may help you begin a project
or support you along the way.
The Action Research Center
The Eckley Summer Scholars and Artists Endowment
The Associate Provost's Office
Can I get course credit for engaging in research?
Many academic units offer a course credit option for students pursuing research. In
most cases, students register for an upper-level course in a chosen major or academic
unit, and use that time to pursue the research project. For more information, see
the course catalog or talk with your academic advisor or a faculty member whose scholarly area interests
Is there a particular time in my academic career that I should be doing research?
Students are welcome to begin research as early as their first year. Many students
postpone the pursuit of research projects until later in their academic career because
their interests are more developed at that point. Simply put: there is no "right time"
to do research.
Do I have to publish or present my findings?
Unless students are doing research to fulfill a degree requirement, they are not obligated
to present or publish their research. But there are scholarships, grants, and stipends that offer financial incentives for students to present their findings. Many students
present their work during one of Illinois Wesleyan's annual undergraduate conferences. Also, if a student is considering applying for graduate school, presenting or publishing
research as an undergraduate can be exceptional experience that makes a resume or
vita stand out.