Why Research?

There are lots of myths about faculty-student research as well as reasons why students should get involved in research. Dr. Cindy Johnson-Groh has gathered the following myths as a guide to the student uncertain about where (or why) to begin. All or some of these may apply to you.

Myth abell setup
I don’t know what to do for research.
Reality
Professors love to talk about their research. All you need to do is make an appointment to talk to them about the possibilities. The prof will share with you some ideas of projects you could do and the nature of that work. Every professor is different in their philosophy of student research, so ask them! Also “shop around”; talk with a couple of professors before you decide. Be aware that some profs may have a full lab and may not be taking new students.
Myth
Listing “research” on my resume will make me more employable.
Reality
Having research on your resume could enhance your post graduate opportunities. However if this is the only reason you are seeking research, you should rethink your motives. Most professors are looking for students interested in learning and not just resume building.
 
Myth
Research is too hard and my grades aren’t good enough.
Reality
Anyone who is self-motivated and interested can do research. You need enthusiasm and be willing to commit time to learn. What you learn usually involves concepts outside of textbook memorization, so a C+ students may still be a quick learner in the laboratory. The opposite can be true, however: the A+ memorizer is not guaranteed an easy time learning how to do research!
 
Mythsearching for moonworts
I don’t have time to do research.
Reality
The time needed for faculty-student research varies considerably depending on the kind of project you work on. Some projects require specific time commitments whereas others are can be done on your own schedule. It is important however to know that you must commit yourself to this project. Signing up for research and then showing a weak effort is worse than not signing up for research.
 
Myth
Research isn't any good if I don’t get academic credit for it.
Reality
You can learn more doing faculty-student research than you ever will in a classroom setting if you choose. Research gives you the opportunity to do real research which could be publishable. You can learn many new techniques, how to analyze data and how to present the results in writing and orally.
 
Myth
Professors are scary and hard to approach.
Reality
Professors love research students. These students often become close friends with profs and generally become a part of the ‘lab family’. Each prof generally has several students working together in the lab (lab family). The camaraderie established between the students and prof is unique and long-lasting. The professor you choose to do research with is someone who can provide career advice and a really strong letter of recommendation. (A letter of recommendation from a professor for a research experience allows the prof to address many issues not covered in a class setting and can be an asset to the student.)
 
Mythlooking for fish
Research is done in the library.
Reality
Research is done in the laboratory, outdoors and in the library. You will be introduced to a laboratory where you will learn new techniques and conduct your research. This becomes a ‘home’ where you can do your research, learn from fellow student researchers, and hangout and shoot the breeze with your prof!
 
Myth
I can do research, music, 5 different clubs, 3 service activities, sports and carry 5 credits.
Reality
Research takes time and a serious commitment. Don’t seek research opportunities unless you are willing to make it a priority and adjust other activities accordingly.
 
Mythguptil seminar
I will have to give scary presentations on my research.
Reality
Part of doing research is communicating results. This means that when you have results you will want to present them. This may take a semester or a couple of years depending on your project. Your research prof will help you learn how to present your results so it isn’t scary. After all, you will become the expert on your research topic and know more about it than anyone else!