Research is the buzz you get in your stomach, the rumble in your heart.
It's a question that keeps nagging you to find the answer.
It takes guts and bravery to answer the call to research.
So while everyone can do it, not everyone dares.
- Tasha Richardson (SESP 2010)
Isn’t Research for Other People, Not Me?
Research, at its core, is about passion and exploration. If you are interested in something, it is natural to want to learn more about it, but what happens after you have exhausted Google and Wikipedia? What if you want to learn more? Research involves critical thinking, problem-solving, detailed analysis, and synthesis of ideas. Northwestern has lots of ways for you to explore your interests.
ATTEND A "FINDING A FACULTY MENTOR WORKSHOP" WORKSHOP
You need a faculty sponsor to apply to any of our grants, so we are also running a workshop series designed to help you with this process (or jut to help you get started).
You Can Do Research as an Undergraduate in Any Major
The methods may vary, but research can happen in any discipline. Research can happen anywhere – on a cluttered bench in a scientific laboratory and in the dirt of the great outdoors, in the dusty archives of a medieval library and on a computer screen in your home, in our neighboring communities and in lands abroad. The key distinction for planning how to get started in your project is whether your research will take place in a lab/field/team environment or not.
LAB-BASED RESEARCH: Find a Lab. This includes work in design teams (computer science etc) or field sciences (archaeology, geology, etc).
NON-LAB OR TEAM BASED RESEARCH: Develop a Project. Most projects in the arts and humanities, and some social sciences, involve a single researcher working by themselves, but still with guidance from mentors.
For either direction, we also want you to think about ethical implications of how research is done, and so you are going to want to read this resource to help frame your thinking: Principles of Ethical Research
Nervous About Talking to Faculty?
No one expects you to be able to do this process on your own. Take advantage of the brilliant faculty all around you. Learn how to successfully reach out to them to get the help that you need.
We’re Here to Help
Whether you are looking for someone who you can talk through vague ideas with or a person to help with an application, advisors at the Office of Undergraduate Research can help.
Advising Request Make an appointment to talk with our researcher advisors about your interests and ideas. You do not have to have a developed project to come talk to us. We can work with you one-on-one from the first "I think I might (maybe) possibly want to do research, but I have no idea how that works!" stage, right up to the final proposal.
Be Yourself. Be Honest. Be Bold.
Your research is your own individual pursuit. Stay true to your passions, and do what you love. The guidance of caring and dedicated mentors is invaluable, but at the end of the day, you are responsible for the generation of new knowledge and for the outcomes of your project. Have fun – this process is where the rest of life begins. Yes!