CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center

FAQ for Undergraduate Research

Please note that the answers given below to frequently asked questions are not designed to take the place of your Academic Advisor or your Faculty Mentor. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have.

Why should I conduct research as an undergraduate?

There are numerous benefits to research, including but not limited to:

  • Drawing conclusions, critical analysis, and problem solving skills
  • Developing communication skills and working independently
  • Understanding and applying research methods, ethics and conduct rules
  • Understanding the link between academics and other careers
  • Utilizing technology and computer programs
  • Learning to think in innovative and creative ways
  • Working successfully with a diverse group of people
Who is eligible to conduct an Undergraduate Research project?

Any undergraduate from any discipline and any level can pursue a research project. It is never too early or too late to get involved with research.

What are research opportunities?

Research projects are diligent and studious searches for new discoveries. Research takes many forms, and can be conducted in any discipline, no matter if your interest is biology, medicine, chemistry or mathematics. Students first need to identify their area of interest and then they need to explore the opportunities that are available to them in that area. Here are some examples:

  • Laboratory Projects
  • Experiential/Field Studies
  • Senior Thesis/Term Papers
  • Survey/Psychology Experiments
Is Undergraduate Research only for students interested in medical school?

No. There are research projects available for students in almost every major. Check the ORA database for available projects or the On-Campus listings.

Can I only do research with a professor whom I have had in class?

No. You do not have had to have the professor in a class. You can conduct research under any professor, as long as they agree to take you into their lab.

What are the advantages of participating in Undergraduate Research?

Working with a faculty mentor and building a relationship with faculty outside of a classroom setting provides students with a better understanding of the academic, social and research climate of this large university community in their academic program. Students develop a better understanding of how research is conducted and applied, are better able to talk with faculty about academic concerns, meet students with similar interests, identify academic and career interests and are privy to many special events and activities which enrich a student's university experience.

When should I start and how long should I do research?

There really is no right time - it's whenever you have an interest. Be sure you have the time, and a faculty member is willing to mentor your project. Typically a research project lasts one year, but some students spend more than two years working on a project.

How do I know if I have enough time to commit to a project?

Be realistic with your commitments; take into consideration your coursework, leisure activities, and possible employment. Remember that some projects can be more intensive than others, so you should seek an opportunity that complements your interests and time schedule without overextending yourself.

How many hours should I spend a week on a project?

Discuss this with your mentor. Typically, for every one unit of an independent research course you are enrolled in, you would be expected to spend about three to four hours a week on the project. Once you commit to a project, make sure you give it the time it deserves.

How do I know if I am ready to meet with a potential faculty mentor?

Make sure you are well prepared. Once you have identified a potential faculty mentor or you have found a project of interest in the ORA database or on-campus opportunities, contact the professor by e-mail or stop by their office. Make sure you are familiar with the professor's work before you compose the e-mail. (Read the faculty profile on their departmental webpage, and look over some of their recent articles out of the literature). This will give you an idea of the type of research they have done. This will also show the faculty member how committed you are to research in general. There is a sample e-mail that can be used as a guide when contacting faculty mentors. Be sure to personalize it to highlight your strengths and weaknesses. When meeting with your potential faculty mentor, be on time, dress appropriately, answer questions honestly, and thank them for their time. It may also be a good idea to have some questions ready for them to answer. Click here for suggestions regarding meeting with a faculty mentor. It is between you and your faculty mentor to decide if your interests match for a research project.

Are the only on-campus opportunities, the ones listed on the ORA (Office of Research Affairs) website?

No. The opportunities listed in the website have been submitted by faculty to the ORA. It is still recommended to review the individual research webpage (in the department) if you do not see any opportunities that interest you. You may also check the on-campus listings for possible faculty mentors.

Can I get academic credit for research?

Yes. Please access http://cnasstudent.ucr.edu/enrollment.html and click on "Research" for information on how to earn units for research.

Does the project have to be conducted on the UCR campus?

No. There are many off-campus research opportunities available. Check the off-campus opportunities.

What if I want to discontinue my project?

Meet and discuss this with your faculty mentor as soon as possible. Remember, your first priority is to be the best student you can be and your faculty mentor wouldn't want your course work to suffer because of you're of your involvement with research. Communicate any changes you may need to make to your research commitments as soon as you are aware of them.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Advising Center Information

CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising
1223 Pierce Hall

Regular office hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00am - 12:00pm & 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am- 12:00pm & 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Tel: (951) 827-7294 or (951) 827-3102
Fax: (951) 827-2243 or (951) 827-2798
E-mail: cnasstudent@ucr.edu