What if you don't think that "research" is for you, but you like asking questions that matter in and to the world? That's also what we mean by research! We support projects in every major, from Art to Anthropology, Biology to Business, Conflict Analysis to Chemistry (etc.).
You need to find or develop a project first. All research or creative projects start with curiosity: an interesting/important question that no one has answered yet. The question and idea may come from you, or you may be intrigued by a question that a professor is trying to answer. At first, you may not know what questions are “answerable,” but your professors can help you with that.
Here’s my model of projects:
Almost all student projects begin by having a conversation with a faculty member to decide on an idea and a question. It’s okay if the initial idea comes from your professors, and it’s also okay if the initial idea comes from you. You’ll eventually wind up somewhere in-between.
Most students begin projects by assisting faculty, learning methods and the way that questions are asked and answered. Then you can branch off, ask new questions, and take responsibility for answering them.
To begin, then, you need to find a professor who can help you with an idea. But how (I’m getting there)?:
- Talk to a professor you already know (the one teaching your favorite class, for example). Tell them what you think is interesting. Ask if she knows anyone you could assist with a related project. Ask if he would be willing to let you help him.
- Look for a faculty member on OSCAR’s Find a Mentor website
- If you are eligible for work study (and if you are receiving financial aid, you may also be eligible for work study), then look for OSCAR Work Study Research Assistantships. (bonus idea - even if you don’t get work study, this is a good place to see what projects are available - it’s also okay to contact these faculty as potential mentors)
- Check out the Students page on the OSCAR website to see how we can help you as you develop your projects.
- Read the student blog posts here to get an idea about other student’s projects.
- Plan to take a Students as Scholars class - they are listed on our website, and are constantly being updated.
- Stop by OSCAR, the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research, to find out more (and grab a pen and some M&Ms). We’re on the second floor of the JC, above the Burger King.
Most students begin working on projects because the experience will help them land a good job or get into a top graduate school. After students work on research or creative project, they say that in addition to making their resume look good, they also had fun, and value the relationship with their faculty mentor. All good reasons to get started now!
Welcome to Mason! We look forward to meeting you!