1. Explore research interests
- Think about your favorite classes. What about these classes did you like?
- What research would help you achieve your career goals?
- What skills and knowledge are you wanting to develop?
2. Find faculty and projects
- Do your homework and see what research is being conducted on campus.
- Search your home department and other departments that might have research interests
that closely match your own.
- Browse MSU faculty publications at https://scholarworks.montana.edu/
- Contact the Renne Library Research Center located in the South Side of the library
- Explore departmental faculty pages on the MSU website.
- Many faculty members will provide links to their recent publications and lab website.
3. Reach out
- Once you've narrowed your search, contact a potential mentor and express your interest
in reserach opportunities
- Keep your email brief and to the point.
- Introduce yourself and inquire about research opportunities in the mentor’s group
- Tailor your email to align with the research interests of the mentor
- Mention their research and why it’s a good fit or of interest to you.
- Consider mentioning a paper they've published, or the focus of their research lab.
- Specify your research goals, both generally and practically.
- Indicate how much time you are willing to devote to a research project.
- If positions are available, follow up with a resume and cover letter
- Ask for a possible time to meet.
4. Follow-Up and Meetings
- If you don't recieve a response within a few weeks, you can send a respectful email
to remind the faculty member of your original message.
- If the faculty member is considering working with you, they might decide to schedule
an in-person meeting to discuss project goals further.
- Come to the meeting on time and prepared.
- Familiarize yourself with their research publications before you sit down with them.
This will convey initiative and help you appear knowledgeable.
- Ask about expectations and what the day-to-day work will look like.
- Come wiht your student schedule and resume
4. Tips for success
- Your first idea might not pan out, and that's okay. Be persistent, and you'll find
an undergraduate research opportunity that's right for you.
- Take smaller opportunities as they come. You might have to work in a lab on campus
part-time before a faculty member chooses to mentor you.
- Keep building experience. This will help you move up within your field and will also
allow for more rewarding research opportunities to come your way.
- Research how to write a strong research grant proposal. Here is an article to get
you started: https://www.storydoc.com/blog/how-to-write-a-research-proposal.
5. Fund your independent research project
- Learn about undergraduate research funding opportunities here.
- Read about how to write your research grant proposal here.