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Five Steps to Finding a Research Project

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the highest ranked public research universities in the country. Every undergraduate at UT has the opportunity to become a researcher and take part in the vibrant intellectual work of the university. Summer is a great time to prepare for a research project in the fall. Here are five steps to finding research on campus

  1. Identify your interests
    A project doesn’t have to be directly related to your chosen major—focus on topics that interest you. Consider relevant coursework you’ve taken or plan to take. Is there a topic you’re passionate about? Research is a great way to get involved with a topic that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to study.
  2. Find three or four faculty members whose interests align with yours
    Search for professors’ current projects using the databases EUREKA and Influuent. Read faculty members’ profiles on departmental websites, network with students groups, and browse research units on campus. Finding several researchers to contact will give you options if a professor’s schedule does not align with yours.
  3. Prepare to contact faculty members
    Do your homework before contacting a professor. Find a faculty member researching a topic that interests you. Develop a clear, concise summary of your interests and what you hope to accomplish with a research project. Review articles a faculty member has published and look over his or her curriculum vitae.
  4. Initiate Contact!
    Send a brief email expressing your interest. Be professional and use the professor’s proper title (e.g., Dr.) when contacting him or her. An advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Research can help you draft a message to send to the researcher, if you’d like some help.
  5. Meet with a faculty member
    Professors don’t expect you to be an expert. They’re looking for students who have a genuine interest in the topic, are eager to learn, and ask good questions, so prepare questions about the project before your meeting. Think about what you can contribute to a project and know how many hours per week you can dedicate. If the faculty member can’t offer you a position, request information about other projects or opportunities he or she may know about.

You can get involved with research at any point in your college careers. If you need guidance at any stage of the process, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research.