What is Research?
Research is a systematic inquiry that investigates hypotheses, suggests new interpretations of data or texts, and poses new questions for future research to explore.
Research consists of:
- Asking a question that nobody has asked before;
- Doing the necessary work to find the answer; and
- Communicating the knowledge you have acquired to a larger audience.
Undergraduate research helps to foster faculty-student collaboration within and outside the university. You have the opportunity to share in a professional researcher's work, to learn how he or she formulates a significant question, develops a procedure to investigate it, obtains research funding and other resources, gathers and examines evidence, follows hunches, and evaluates and shares results with the scientific community.
Getting involved in research allows you to draw together classroom learning and particular interests to contribute to the design and execution of a research project.
Explore this website to learn about workshops, funding, and other support available.
Research may be very broadly defined as systematic gathering of data and information and its analysis for advancement of knowledge in any subject. Research attempts to answer intellectual and practical questions through application of systematic methods. The types of research methodologies vary and are often classified into five categories. Specific academic fields tend to apply certain methodologies more than others:
- Qualitative: Involves describing in details specific situations using research tools like interviews, surveys, and observation. Qualitative researchers are more concerned with understanding what is happening as viewed by the participants.
- Quantitative: Requires quantifiable data involving numerical and statistical explanations. Quantitative researchers seek to explain the causes of change primarily through objective measurement and quantitative analysis (statistics).
- Correlation/Regression Analysis: Involves determining the strength of the relationship between two or more variables. Correlation / regression researchers determine whether correlations exist between two quantitative variables.
- Experimental: Relies on controlled experiments that compare the outcome for an experimental and a control group that differ in a defined way. Experiments have a control group, subjects are randomly assigned between the groups, and researchers tests the effects of one or more variables on the outcome.
- Meta-Analysis: Designed to analyze multiple studies to determine if there is a consensus regarding the correctness of a hypothesis. Meta analysis researchers combine the findings from independent studies.
In practice, research methods vary widely, depending upon the academic discipline’s accepted standards, the individual researcher’s preferences, or a particular study’s needs. Research in science and engineering often involves conducting experiments in the lab or in the field. Research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences may include archival work in the library or on the internet, conducting surveys or in-depth interviews, and a wide range of creative and artistic projects- from costume design to playwriting to curating a fine arts exhibit.
Research is not a solitary activity –but an act of community. As a member of the research community, you build on the knowledge that others have acquired and provide a road map for those who follow. You add to a body of work that will never be complete. Research is an ongoing, collaborative process with no finish line in sight.
To determine if research is right for you, consider the following:
- Are you interested in a more thorough exploration of a subject you are already familiar with?
- Are you interested in being introduced to a new subject?
- What motivates you? Trying what others have never done? Getting to know faculty better? Exploring the real-world by undertaking research with an external organization?
- What do you hope to gain from the research experience? Do you want to help create new information and knowledge? Practice or develop new skills?
- Do you want to test your skill sets in a professional setting to determine your likes and dislikes?
- Are you hoping this experience will help you decide whether to attend graduate or professional school?
- Do you have time for a 10-15 hour/week commitment? Can you commit during the quarter, multiple quarters, or summer?
- Do you wish to receive academic credit?
- Do you want/need a salary/stipend/scholarship?
- Are you willing to do volunteer work?