Office of Undergraduate Research
Room 8.66.00, New Building
524 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
How to get started with research
If you are eager to start work on a research project, the first thing you should consider is which subject area you want to do research in.
There are many routes that students and professors take in their paths as researchers. Some students become interested in a topic when they learn about it for the first time in a course. Other students read about a project that a professor has done and that’s when they know what they want to work on. Some students aren’t yet sure about a specific line of research they want to pursue, while others have very specific ideas about a research project. That’s okay! There are many ways to get started in this process. They key feature of the research or creative experience for undergraduates is that you will work directly under a specific professor(s) and learn the ropes of academic scholarship from her or him.
If you don’t yet have a specific faculty member in mind, the first step is to do some research and find out what our faculty members are working on. One good way to start this process is to visit the faculty profiles on the departmental webpages. If you click here, you will find a list of academic departments and programs at the college. As you navigate through the pages that interest you, click on the “faculty” button of each department to see the research profiles of each faculty member.
If you already know the professor(s) that you would like to work with, then all that is left to do is contact them! However, we recommend that you talk with us at the OUR first. We can help you approach the professor with an appropriate letter or statement of interest. This way, you can put your best foot forward and show the professor that you have a serious and well-founded interest in their research or creative projects.For a list of different research areas and highlights of some faculty who have expertise in that area click here.
Remember also that not all faculty members keep their web profiles updated. Another good way to read up on a faculty member’s research interests is to search for their name in a database of scholarly literature. Our library provides access to many of these databases – to visit them click here. You can also use publically available databases such as Google Scholar. Lastly, the college keeps a database on the research interests and activities of its faculty. If you come by the OUR, we can help you search this database and find the faculty members whose research interests you.
Some faculty who are actively seeking new student research assistants post a message on our Help Wanted page, so be sure to visit that page as well.
Once you have an idea of whom you might like to work with, come to the OUR and we can help you contact the professor and construct a statement of interest. You want to let the professor know of your interest in working with him or her in a professional, serious, and enthusiastic manner. Click here to see an example statement of interest. But remember – not all faculty members are currently seeking new students. Don’t get discouraged – keep trying. We can help.
No matter which stage of your research experience you are in, we hope that you will come and visit us in the OUR. We are here to help you. But we are also here to learn from you. When you share your experiences with us, we can help to build a better research experience for all John Jay students and faculty.
For additional examples of ways to get started, see the links below. They are tailored to specific Colleges, but include some general information useful for everyone!
http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/undergrad/urj.pdf [physics students]