Common FAQs

Can I get credit for doing research?

Yes. Credit is primarily available as independent study credit. Policies vary by department, and it is imperative to speak with your advisor.

Can I do research outside of my major?

Yes. While most students choose to do research in their major, some students choose to do research in the area of their minor, or a subject in which they are passionately interested. It is important to discuss your choice of conducting research outside of your major with an advisor to determine whether there are any academic impacts from this decision.

What is an REU?

REU stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates and most of them are sponsored by the NSF, the National Science Foundation. NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program across the nation. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty and other researchers on topics in the sciences, engineering, ethics, education, and human resources. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. This is a great experience for students who want to spend a summer getting started in research. For more information, click here.

Are there any special requirements if I am involving human or animal subjects?

Yes, there are federal regulations governing the use of human and animal subjects in research. At GVSU, the Human Research Review Committee (HRRC) ensures that the basic rights and welfare of research participants are fostered and protected. The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) provides oversight in animal research activities.

What is undergraduate research and scholarship?

Undergraduate research and scholarship is a unique opportunity for students to work with faculty on their scholarship and produce an original output that contributes to the knowledge or activity of a particular academic discipline.

Some students will work on part of a faculty members current research project. Other students may develop an independent project of their own that is guided by a faculty member. Either way, students have opportunities in a variety of disciplines from art history to zoology to engage in original hands-on research and scholarship.

How do I get involved with a research project on campus?

There are several ways to become involved with research. Think about classes that you have enjoyed or ideas that interest you. Is there something that left you wanting to know more? What do you want to learn more about? Finding a topic, problem, idea,or activity that really excites you is a great place to begin. You can also talk to a faculty member who teaches a class that you enjoy. Make an appointment to discuss his/her research and inquire if there is an opportunity for you to assist.

Can OURS match me up with a research position or topic?

OURS does not directly match students with positions or topics, or have a ready list of openings. We have designed our program to help you find the resources you need to identify a faculty mentor, advise you on how to approach the identified mentor and support you through the process.

Do you have to be in honors to do research?

Honors status is not a requirement for research involvement or funding, except when relating to scholarships offered explicitly through the honors program or relating directly to an honors thesis. We encourage all students, honors or non-honors, to get involved in research as an undergraduate.

Is research only in a lab?

Research can take place in a variety of physical settings, such as in laboratories, libraries, on the computer, in the field, in a studio or theatre, etc. Where research occurs depends on the discipline, the research question and the methodology being used. Research is not limited to certain majors, but occurs in all disciplines.

Can I do research if Im a freshman?

Absolutely. However, the type of research or degree of independence will often depend on your experience/course work. Depending on your field of interest, some professors may require that you complete certain courses prior to beginning any research at all. Even so, most labs start students off with basic tasks and allow you to progress as you prove yourself.

Is it too late to do research if Im a senior?

Absolutely not. However, it is very important that you plan carefully and contact your potential research mentor as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you will limit the scope of your research.

Are there prerequisites to doing research?

This depends on the mentor and/or the field of study. Sometimes you need relevant experience or course work. In many cases, you will develop skills as you get involved in the research. Some majors, psychology and biochemistry for example, offer specific courses designed to introduce the student to research and are helpful to beginning undergraduate research.

Can I get paid for doing research?

Yes and no. Some research positions provide a stipend, other research opportunities are given academic credit, and some are done on a volunteer basis. For some positions, you may need to volunteer for a semester and then you might get paid in subsequent semesters if you demonstrate the necessary dedication and abilities.

How do I approach a faculty member?

Remember, faculty members are humans, too. You shouldnt be intimidated by them, but you need to do your homework ahead of time. Before you meet to discuss research possibilities, consider the following suggestions:

  • What did you enjoy about the class that the faculty member taught? What aspects of the subject are you interested in learning more about?
  • Try to find out about the facultys member research agenda. Check to see if they have a website that discusses their research and try to learn about the topic.
  • Find a journal article that that faculty member has written and read it. You might not understand everything, but it will provide a better idea of what the faculty member has studied. Plus, it shows that you have taken some initiative and are interested in research.
  • Analyze your own strengths and areas you want to gain experience in. Be prepared to explain why you would be an ideal research assistant and what you can contribute and learn from the experience.
  • Now, you are ready to set up a meeting.

When is the best time to get involved in a research project?

That answer varies based on your previous experience, academic ability, and coursework. Some students find opportunities as soon as they enter college, while others need a year or two to figure out their major or interest area and develop the skills necessary to conduct research. Its never too early to begin looking.

How much time is involved?

The time commitment depends on a lot of different factorsyour course load, class schedule, and your role in the research. During the academic year, some students may spend up to 10 hours a week on a project. Summer research often requires more time.

What is SSD?

SSD stands for Student Scholars Day, which is held once each year to celebrate the scholarship and creative work performed by GVSU students. The day showcases faculty-mentored student work, shared through many venues, including (but not limited to) oral presentations, discussion and panel sessions, fine arts exhibits and performances, and poster presentations.

What is S3?

S3 stands for Student Summer Scholars, which provides funds for a student and faculty mentor to devote twelve weeks to a research and/or creative project during the spring/summer semester. Generally, S3 Grants provide a student stipend, faculty stipend, and a small budget for supplies. Grants do not exceed $6,000.