No matter what field you are studying, getting involved in a research project as an undergraduate student is highly recommended, and in some cases, even required to earn your degree. There are definitely pros and cons to pursuing any research project. Some days, it feels like there are more cons than you can even keep track of as you question yourself for the one-millionth time. However, the skills that you attain through the pursuit of a research project, especially as an undergraduate preparing for graduate school, is imperative.
As you work through the planning stages, actually starting the project, reading about the topic, collecting data, developing a relationship with your project advisor, justifying your current involvement with the project in interviews and scholarship applications, and describing all that your project entails to friends and family, you are constantly learning while also growing a deep love for what you are investing a portion of your time into.
Here are 21 thoughts that a college student who is in the middle of an undergraduate research project has (on the daily).
1. What do I even want to research?
Figuring out my interests and coming up with a plan of research pursuit is very time consuming (we haven't even gotten to the true time-consuming part yet).
2. I have a topic, but now it's time to narrow this down.
Focus it in to make the project more manageable... makes sense.
3. I was told to connect this to a broader context right after I was told to narrow it down.
So I just narrowed it down, but now I have to reconnect it to a broader realm?
4. Securing funds for this should be interesting.
5. I have to complete how many modules for Human Subjects Training?!
About 80 percent of these don't even apply to my project.
6. The Institutional Review Board is very, very, very particular.
About every little detail.
7. I've identified a faculty member as my research advisor, but I don't really know for sure how this is going to go.
The first impression seemed OK, but only time will tell.
8. If I read one more peer-reviewed article about this subject, I'm probably going to freak out.
I'm reading all day, everyday, all night, every night.
9. Oh look, here's another article!
You would think I would be tired of reading at this point, yet a new finding never fails to excite me.
10. Did the IRB really send my project proposal back for another round of revisions?
11. My project is my baby.
Too bad this is only one aspect of my undergraduate career, and I have a bunch of other responsibilities that I cannot neglect.
12. Will this project ever get finished?
Some days you make better progress than others. Some days you feel like you are getting nowhere. Some days you think you have everything all lined up to finish and some days you are thrown for a total loop. That's just research.
13. These skills are important for grad school.
Graduate school is all about pursuing research, so this is good practice for the next level. Always remind yourself this.
14. I'm getting pretty good at writing recruitment and consent forms.
This is especially important if your research involves data collected from human subjects.
15. There are so many minuscule details that go into a single project.
I've got to be forgetting something! (You wonder this daily.)
16. All of this work for a single credit hour.
Hey, it may be a single credit hour, or in some cases, several semesters worth of project planning and then project pursuit, before actually enrolling in the project course; yet, these skills you are attaining throughout the process are priceless and will be carried with you throughout the duration of your life.
17. There are so many potential problems that could arise during data collection.
That's all part of REsearch... you learn, apply, and try again.
18. I just spent three hours writing, revising, and editing one section of my paper... AGAIN!
19. I am so thankful for my project advisor.
I couldn't imagine how this project would be possible without them.
20. I really love my project.
After all of the time invested in this, it is apparent how much it truly means to me when somebody asks about school and all I want to talk about is this research. (Even though this is not how I felt about the project when I first started it!)
21. I don't want this experience to end.
You never thought that you'd think this.