5 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved in Undergraduate Research

Getting involved in research has without a doubt been the best decision I have made in my college career thus far. Being involved in research has been incredibly rewarding and I have learned so much more about psychology than I have in any of my formal classes. Regardless of your major, I highly recommend getting involved in research related to your field of study. Here are five reasons why you should consider getting involved in research.  

  1. 1. It’s a way to engage more deeply with what is going on in your field of study

    Within the first week of the first semester of lab, I felt like I learned more about psychology than I had in any of my psychology classes. We spent the first week reading the research that the lab I was involved in had already published as well as grants for research they were currently working on. I also spent a significant portion of my time looking for and reading literature related to the research my team was working on. As a result, I quickly learned so much about our area of research and also applied a lot of what I was learning from the research papers I read to our own research. So, if you are looking to more actively engage in the material related to your field you will definitely be able to do that through involving yourself in research.  

  2. 2. It can be a lot of fun! 

    While research can sometimes be a little dull and it’s often perceived as such, if you are truly interested in what your lab is doing it can be so much fun. For my first semester in my lab I was involved in the culture team of our lab. In this team we worked on investigating stereotype-based humor and accuracy of stereotypes. I spent a significant portion of my time working on this team collecting stereotypes, reinforcing memes and altering them for the purposes of one of the research projects. This was a lot of fun and one of my favorite tasks I worked on last semester.   

  3. 3. It can be incredibly rewarding!

    group studying

    If you are working with a lab that is researching something that is genuinely interesting and important to you it can be very fulfilling. My lab more generally works on researching stereotypes and bias and it is a rewarding topic to research because it is something really important to me. I love being able to participate in research that has the potential to create such a large impact on society. Finding a lab that researches something meaningful to you is key to having an amazing experience. To enjoy your experience you need to be passionate about what you are researching.

  4. 4. It is a great opportunity to find out if research is something you want to pursue

    a woman in business casual stands in front of a white board, writing with a marker in an office space

    If you have thought for a moment you might want to pursue a career in research, then it should be quite obvious that looking into getting involved in undergraduate research is a good idea. Research is definitely not as glamorous as I thought it would be. It can be slow and there is a lot of work that isn’t quite as exciting, like spending hours going through the same Inquisit program six times looking for errors. So, it is really important to experience research for yourself before you decide whether or not to pursue it. For me personally, I realized that as much as I love my lab, I don’t really see myself spending the rest of my life doing it. Being able to have this realization has been really important in figuring out what I want to do with my life and I am thankful I decided to join my lab so I could have that realization sooner rather than later. 

  5. 5. It is a great opportunity to develop professional skills and make connections with people in your field

    Women budgeting/writing things on paper

    Throughout my experience in my lab I really honed a lot of different professional skills and got to make connections with professionals in the field of psychology. I improved my attention to detail when running different programs looking for errors and I have gotten really good at doing literature searches. I also have lots of experience observing participants, solving problems independently and working with a team to complete tasks. These are all important skills that will be relevant to any field and I am happy I have had the opportunity to work on these. I have also had the opportunity to hear from and work with different professionals doing research in psychology and these connections will be important down the line when I may need letters of recommendation.

I have had a really great experience doing research and It is something I am so proud to be involved with. I highly recommend getting involved if you think research might interest you. I am also happy to talk with anyone interested in the research my lab, in particular, is doing or wanting to know how they can become involved in research.