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 (994-2171)
  • 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 or lab
    • 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