Students’ Tips for Future Undergraduate Researchers

written by admin on August 25, 2015 in Doing EL and Student Voices and Undergraduate Research with no comments

by Jessie L. Moore

A growing number of publications offer tips for faculty, undergraduate research programs, and institutions about how to support undergraduate research (UR). The Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, for example, identifies core features for successful undergraduate research and offers examples of undergraduate research experiences across a range of higher education contexts. Other CUR publications focus on strategies for faculty in specific disciplinary clusters and on curricular designs that support UR.

Few publications focus on tips for the undergraduate researchers, and even fewer integrate students’ perspectives. Notable exceptions include work from the Student Voices/Students as Co-Inquirers/Students as Partners movement (which often includes student co-authors) and a handful of articles like “Five Essential Skills for Every Undergraduate Researcher” (CUR Quarterly, 33.3), written by five then-undergraduates about skills that undergraduate researchers should hone during their UR experiences.

In the short videos below, Elon University students who presented at the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research share their tips for future undergraduate researchers and discuss their presentation and publication experiences.

Tips for Future Undergraduate Researchers

Students share strategies for identifying mentors, picking topics, and managing the scope of UR projects:

Going Public – Presenting and Publishing Undergraduate Research

Students value the learning outcomes and personal growth associated with mentored undergraduate research, and many express appreciation for the opportunity to pursue concrete outcomes like conference presentations and publications. Reflecting on their 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) experience, students noted the benefits both of seeing their institutional peers present at a national conference and of learning about research projects from other disciplines and schools:

Presentation and publication possibilities can be articulated in early goal-setting discussions among undergraduate researchers and their mentors. Dissemination of research results also can take multiple forms, as the students in the short video below demonstrate:

CUR routinely updates “Undergraduate Research Highlights,” offering short annotations of peer-reviewed publications that include undergraduate co-authors. In addition to the disciplinary publication venues showcased in CUR’s Highlights, students and their mentors can collaborate on process-oriented articles for Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring or students can submit to undergraduate journals.

See our other Undergraduate Research posts to learn more about student perceptions of UR and about current research on mentoring UR.


Jessie L. Moore (@jessielmoore) is the Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University and associate professor of Professional Writing & Rhetoric in the Department of English.