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Independent Undergraduate Research

If you're interested in participating in independent research, talk to a professor or advisor. 

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 you. 

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.