Research ventures have proven beneficial for society as whole, producing a plethora of results and findings that have improved our understanding of our planet and beyond. The number of opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved with research is growing, but the structure and expectations of these opportunities vary. It is important for students and mentors to recognize the most efficient course of action for novice researchers. As an experienced undergraduate researcher, I can attest to the variety of opportunities available and the chronology in which they should be pursued. I completed a water systems research project as a sophomore, a restoration directed-research project as a junior, and an environmental economics research fellowship as a senior. It is clear to me now that a directed-research project would have been the best way to start as a researcher. A directed-research project emphasizes the collaboration of a student team with a research mentor who offers fundamental guidance in the research process. Collectively, it is the most efficient way for a novice researcher to develop core research skills, focusing entirely on fundamental techniques without the expectations of advanced research. With the support and guidance offered by directed research, an aspiring researcher can make early strides in meeting their full potential. With this experience, such a student could move swiftly into advanced research as early as their third year of college. Given that young researchers are the future of science, investing in their development should be a priority, and I believe that directed research presents an amazing opportunity to make it one.
David Clarke, Shadi S. Atallah, and Rommel Montúfar
Durham, NH: Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research, University of New Hampshire
Gehrung, Jake, "Growing as an Undergraduate Researcher and the Benefits of Directed Research" (2020). Inquiry Journal. 13.