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Research FAQ's

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Undergrads tend to have a lot of questions or hear a lot of misinformation about finding research projects or what the requirements are. Hopefully the list of FAQs below will help answer some of the questions you might have.


Q: Do I have to be a junior or senior before I can do research?


A: No, although some projects or faculty may require that you have completed certain pre-requisites before you can join a certain project.


Q: Since I’m a FRNSC major, can I only do forensic science research?


A: No, you can do research in other departments if you wish. If you are double majoring, or have an area of interest in forensic science that is outside of criminalistics (like psychology, anthropology, entomology, criminology, etc.) then approaching a professor in one of those departments about working on some of their research may prove to be a fun and useful experience for you.


Q: Do I have to wait to be asked by a faculty member to do research?


A: You can wait if you want to, but if you really are interested in a particular project, a particular faculty member’s area of research interest, or you have a research idea you think is interesting and would like to discuss with a faculty member, don’t wait for them to come to you – go to them! You can make an appointment with any faculty member (especially during office hours) to discuss research with them and see if they have a place for you on one of their projects or if they are willing to take you on to begin a project of your own design. The faculty member may not be able to take you on at that time, but you won’t know unless you ask!


Q: How do I find a research project?


A: Use one of the links below or ask a faculty member about any projects they have going or might be starting soon. If you have an original idea for research, ask a faculty member about the feasibility of your idea and they can help you decide how to approach the project if it is viable.


Q: How much time do I have to spend doing research every week?


A: This often dependent on the project itself, but the professor leading your research will be able to give you an idea of how many hours a week they expect before you start.


If you choose to earn class credit for your research, you will be expected to conduct 5 hours of research a week for each credit, so taking 3 credits of research means you will be expected to do 15 hours of research each week that semester.


Q: Do I get paid for doing research?


A: No, most paid researchers are at the graduate degree level or above. You can, however, see about earning course credit (talk to the professor in charge or our advisor John Moses for more information about that). You may also get to take a trip that will be (mostly, if not entirely) paid for to present your research at a conference.


Q: Do I have to pay for research materials?


A: You do not have to personally pay for research materials, but they do need to be paid for. Part of the research process is making a budget and sticking to it. The faculty member or person in charge of your research project may have some money available to help you, but if that is not the case you may need to ask for money in the form of grants.

A grant is kind of like a scholarship application, but instead of asking for money to help you pay for school, you are asking for money to help you fund a research project. And instead of writing a personal statement, you write a research proposal and explain how the money would be spent, why it is needed, and what the purpose of the research is. Again, like a scholarship, there is no guarantee that if you apply you will receive funding, but you should apply anyway.

If your project revolves around a certain instrument or kit, sometimes the company that makes the thing you are testing may provide funding and/or supplies for your research.

As always, talk to a faculty member about the research process and possible funding streams.


Q: Does research have to be presented at a conference or be published?


A: No, although those are two things that people in the scientific community strive for. If you conduct research, you should want to share it with others. That’s how we learn and develop new questions to ask and answer. Talk to the person in charge of your research about presenting or publishing, and they will  be able to tell you about opportunities for both.

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