Advice on Getting Started in Research
Research opportunities are available year-round at the University of Delaware. The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) can help you explore the possibilities (either paid, for credit, or volunteering) and help you find a good fit. If you would like to learn more – or brainstorm ways that you can get started, just get in touch with us to schedule a meeting with one of our staff: https://www.urp.udel.edu/urp/make-an-appointment/
How do I find out which type of research interests me?
This is one of the most common questions we get. We recommend that you schedule an appointment to brainstorm ideas with us. We can certainly help you identify your interests and figure out where you can fit into a research plan.
In addition to helping you identify your interests, we can help you find research opportunities, reach out to faculty mentors and advise you on other elements of undergraduate research at UD.
Once I find a research idea and a potential faculty mentor – what is my next step?
Your next step should be getting to know your potential research mentors.
- Check out each professor’s individual profile page and see whether their cv is posted online.
- Take a look at research articles that they (or others in their lab) have written – you can often find these in e-journals that the UD Library subscribes to.
- Contact the faculty member to see whether they have openings for undergraduates and to see whether you can schedule a one-on-one conversation to chat with them further about their research. Faculty like to work with students – and talk about their research interests. Most faculty will be very interested to hear from you.
- Remember, you only want to reach out to faculty who have projects that specifically interest you, don’t apply for just any opportunity.
How should I reach out to faculty? What should I write in my message?
In your initial contact email, be sure to communicate your interest in conducting undergraduate research and your desire to work with that particular faculty member. The more specific and tailored your email is, the more success you will have connecting with potential faculty mentors.
Things you may want to include in the email:
- Introducing yourself – mention your name, major, and class status
- Reading up on some of their research beforehand and letting them know what about it interests you.
- Being genuine. Remember there are no right or wrong answers here – and the more detail you convey about what it is in their research that appeals to you, the more authentic your interest will be and appear.
- Requesting a meeting to talk with them further about possible ways you could get involved and whether you would be a good fit for their project.
- Always ending the email by thanking them for their time.
Some other tips to consider:
- Your email should come from your udel account.
- You should include a clear subject line, address the faculty member as “Dr.” or “Professor,” and be professional in tone and language.
- Remember, this is a very stressful time, and everyone is managing a number of both academic and non-academic related tasks. Faculty may take a while to get back to you – so certainly don’t get discouraged if you do not hear back right away.
I’m still having trouble. What happens if I don’t hear back, or the faculty member is unavailable to work with me?
Finding a research opportunity is not unlike finding a job – you may well have to apply to more than one. If you are having a hard time contacting a faculty member or finding one who is interested in working with you, don’t feel discouraged. Just reach back out to our office for more help. There are no bad questions, and whatever you want to ask about is almost certainly something we’ve been asked about before. We’re here to help you and are looking forward to hearing from you!