How to get started with a research project

How to get started with a research project

A year ago I had this crazy idea of experimenting with the final semester of my two-year course. Being an international student in Australia, doing two postgraduate degrees and working at the same time was apparently not enough for me. So instead of choosing to do a professional project and finishing my degree, I decided to do a research project.

If you must know, I literally had no idea of how to do a research project or how to write a thesis. So I went to my professor and told him about my plans to complete a research project for my final semester. “If students imagine completing a research project in three months, I ask them to come and see me. And they later un-imagine it,” came my professor’s reply.

I was then given special permission to take two semesters to finish this research project – and hopefully in a few weeks’ time I will submit my first completed piece of research. In the past few months I have learned a lot of lessons that I want to share, in case you also decide to follow this route without any prior knowledge of how to do a research project!

1. Find the right supervisor

My professor asked a faculty member to become my supervisor. I floated an idea about what area I was interested in working on, and she agreed to keep an eye on me. In terms of a supervisor I couldn’t have asked for anything better. She is patient with me, she knows my shortcomings and she always motivates me even if I am unable to see myself progressing. Having such a supervisor makes this journey very comfortable and easy.

2. Don’t be shy, ask!

I told you earlier that I did not have any clue about how to do a research project. That was my reality and I didn’t try to hide it. I communicated my weakness openly to my supervisor and warned her in advance that I would be asking stupid questions throughout the duration of my project just so I could get an idea of what I was doing. “No question is stupid,” she assured me. The credit indeed goes to her, but it is ultimately your responsibility to communicate with your supervisor and ask as many questions as you need to.

3. Select the right topic

Your topic will determine your project. It should be interesting and it should be something that you really want to investigate. So never rely on others for recommendations about what should be your topic of research. Try to read and think a lot and you will find an area of interest. Explore your inner self, even if it takes time. In a few weeks you will start gathering your thoughts and realize what you actually are interested in researching.

4. Keep your plan realistic

Your topic could be the best in the field, but do you have enough resources to finish the project? Suppose your research project involves travelling halfway around the world to conduct a field investigation. The question you must be asking yourself is: can I afford that much time and money? If not, then no matter how brilliant your idea is, you need to think of something else. Save this one for when you receive a healthy research grant.

5. Prepare a project timeline

Having a project timeline is everything. It keeps you on track all the time. You should have a timeline set out in the first week, stating targets that you must achieve throughout the duration of your research project. Things could go wrong here and there, and you can always adjust dates, but it is very important to have a schedule, ideally broken down further into weekly targets. Ask your supervisor about what kind of targets you should set and try to achieve these on a weekly basis. Doing this should help you avoid becoming overwhelmed.

6. Write, write and write

If you’re unsure how to write a thesis, the best advice I can give is not to leave the writing stage until last. Start writing from day one. This is something I learned the hard way. My supervisor always suggests writing, but I don’t feel comfortable doing that unless I have all the information in hand. However, I’ve learned how important it is to write down whatever you do, and make notes of whatever you read. Documenting the whole process as you go will help you finalize the project in a very effective way. So don’t worry about writing things that are “wrong” or that don’t make sense. Remember, it only has to make sense once the whole project is finished. So even if it seems raw, keep on writing and get regular feedback from your supervisor.

These are some general rules that apply to every research project. You will definitely have to alter a few things here and there depending on your area of interest and your topic. I wish you good luck for this. And if you need to talk to me, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Finally, remember that persistence is the key. You may feel like giving up when things go off track, but stick with it and you’ll not only emerge with a completed project, you’ll also gain lots of invaluable skills along the way.

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Many students delay writing a research paper from the very beginning of the writing process. This happens due to many reasons. Most often, students experience writer’s block where they open a document but can’t start writing. Another common reason is the lack of experience. In this case, students don’t know how to begin the introductory paragraph and have no idea how to prepare a creative and successful thesis statement.

Some students solve this problem by ordering a paper from research paper writers. However, we have another solution. You should review the elementary rules of writing this type of work because a lack of understanding often results in self-doubt and giving up too soon. The next step is choosing a topic. Starting a research paper won’t be so difficult if you have chosen the right topic. If you are interested in and inspired by the chosen topic, you will be able to write faster.

7 Steps On How To Begin A Research Paper Easily

If you are concerned about the question "can someone write my research paper" and that you will never write a proper thesis statement, we offer you this guide. When you use obsolete tools and methods, you will spend hours studying the relevant literature. To write a research paper, you should overcome the painful procedure of sorting scientific sources by optimizing your efforts more efficiently.

  1. Read the guidelines of the research. Generally, professors leave basic recommendations on writing a thesis and requirements for writing a paper in apa format. This step facilitates the research process and provides you with a starting point. Then you can easily find the valued sources in the academic community.
  2. Choose a research paper topic. This is one of the most difficult tasks. The research paper topic sets the pace for the introduction and creation of the thesis statement. You can find one that matches your interests simply by surfing the Internet. Make sure you know how to title research paper.

Here are a few tips on choosing a perfect topic:

  • It should be interesting;
  • It should be a feasible subject;
  • You should limit your area of research;
  • You should get your professor’s approval before starting your work.
  1. Do the research: facts and examples. The most complicated and exhausting part of drafting a successful statement is searching for reliable information. If you've scoured the Internet but haven't found the facts you need, it’s time to ask the professor. He or she can help you find the answers your need to difficult questions.
  2. Create a research paper outline. Now that you have taken care of the first steps, you can start drafting. During this stage, try to plan out your work’s main ideas. The research paper outline prevents mistakes that can be made.
  3. Create a thesis. The thesis helps to keep yourself on-track and not get lost while writing. Therefore, create a strong and detailed thesis statement.

Get your research paper written by experts

Brainstorm and formulate several theses and ensure your hypothesis is clear. Doing these things is the key for your reader to understand and evaluate your entire work. This is why you want to include all the necessary information for your topic so your reader will clearly understand what you are writing about.

You should do your best to make your thesis flawless. However, it is okay if you face certain difficulties. It is not easy to formulate a good thesis and if you are unsure of your skills or knowledge, we advise you to use a thesis statement generator. Such tools will help you cope with this matter quickly and easily.

  1. Make a brilliant intro. How to write an introduction paragraph? Writing the opening for a paper can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. However, if you prepare well, write an outline, and choose a good subject, this won’t be too difficult. You should already have a great thesis, background information, and a research question. Now all you need is to make an interesting hook to catch the readers’ attention while organizing all of the necessary introductory elements in your first paragraph.
  2. Write your research paper. We have come to one of the most exciting and terrifying steps. The writing of the research paper itself or buy mla style papers online. Gather your thoughts, facts, quotes, and statistics to start writing the research paper.
  3. Cite your sources. When you complete a research paper, you should note the literature you have used. Be sure to specifically mention all of the original sources in your research paper.

Example of Introduction Paragraph For A Research Paper

Example: Social media has been around for some time but is already an essential part of everyone's daily routine. There are so many opportunities that social networking websites provide, like entertainment as well as networking. However, few people really view the use of social media from a different perspective since the majority neglects the negative consequences that arise from it. Social media has many benefits, although one can suffer from its repercussions, making it crucial to raise awareness of social media’s negative effects.

Stuck with finding the right title?

Get plenty of fresh and catchy topic ideas and pick the perfect one with PapersOwl Title Generator.

A good intro to a research paper has to follow a certain structure. You need to include a certain number of sentences, each having a specific goal. To get the exact instructions, you can go through the ASU research guide to write perfect introductions.

In general, here’s the structure to follow:

  • The first paragraph to your research paper has to start with a general sentence that introduces the background of the topic.
  • Mention the issue that is related to your topic in the next sentence or two in order to narrow your introduction down to your research paper’s thesis.
  • The last sentence of your introduction paragraph should be the thesis of your paper, which summarizes your paper in one sentence.

Remember that the thesis should highlight both the topic and the problem you discuss in your research paper. You can always buy research papers online when you encounter difficulties with this type of writing.

A well-written research paper should be moderately long and not confusing. The ordinary reader shouldn’t forget what was said at the beginning while reading the middle of the work. Combine several short sentences into one and do not hesitate to give thorough explanations.

The following steps outline a simple and effective strategy for writing a research paper. Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.

Step 1: Identify and develop your topic

Selecting a topic can be the most challenging part of a research assignment. Since this is the very first step in writing a paper, it is vital that it be done correctly. Here are some tips for selecting a topic:

  1. Select a topic within the parameters set by the assignment. Many times your instructor will give you clear guidelines as to what you can and cannot write about. Failure to work within these guidelines may result in your proposed paper being deemed unacceptable by your instructor.
  2. Select a topic of personal interest to you and learn more about it. The research for and writing of a paper will be more enjoyable if you are writing about something that you find interesting.
  3. Select a topic for which you can find a manageable amount of information. Do a preliminary search of information sources to determine whether existing sources will meet your needs. If you find too much information, you may need to narrow your topic; if you find too little, you may need to broaden your topic.
  4. Be original. Your instructor reads hundreds of research papers every year, and many of them are on the same topics (topics in the news at the time, controversial issues, subjects for which there is ample and easily accessed information). Stand out from your classmates by selecting an interesting and off-the-beaten-path topic.
  5. Still can’t come up with a topic to write about? See your instructor for advice.

Once you have identified your topic, it may help to state it as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about the epidemic of obesity in the American population, you might pose the question “What are the causes of obesity in America ?” By posing your subject as a question you can more easily identify the main concepts or keywords to be used in your research.

Step 2 : Do a preliminary search for information

Before beginning your research in earnest, do a preliminary search to determine whether there is enough information out there for your needs and to set the context of your research. Look up your keywords in the appropriate titles in the library’s Reference collection (such as encyclopedias and dictionaries) and in other sources such as our catalog of books, periodical databases, and Internet search engines. Additional background information may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks, and reserve readings. You may find it necessary to adjust the focus of your topic in light of the resources available to you.

Step 3: Locate materials

With the direction of your research now clear to you, you can begin locating material on your topic. There are a number of places you can look for information:

If you are looking for books, do a subject search in the Alephcatalog. A Keyword search can be performed if the subject search doesn’t yield enough information. Print or write down the citation information (author, title,etc.) and the location (call number and collection) of the item(s). Note the circulation status. When you locate the book on the shelf, look at the books located nearby; similar items are always shelved in the same area. The Aleph catalog also indexes the library’s audio-visual holdings.

Use the library’s electronic periodical databases to find magazine and newspaper articles. Choose the databases and formats best suited to your particular topic; ask at the librarian at the Reference Desk if you need help figuring out which database best meets your needs. Many of the articles in the databases are available in full-text format.

Use search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) and subject directories to locate materials on the Internet. Check the Internet Resources section of the NHCC Library web site for helpful subject links.

Step 4: Evaluate your sources

See the CARS Checklist for Information Quality for tips on evaluating the authority and quality of the information you have located. Your instructor expects that you will provide credible, truthful, and reliable information and you have every right to expect that the sources you use are providing the same. This step is especially important when using Internet resources, many of which are regarded as less than reliable.

Step 5: Make notes

Consult the resources you have chosen and note the information that will be useful in your paper. Be sure to document all the sources you consult, even if you there is a chance you may not use that particular source. The author, title, publisher, URL, and other information will be needed later when creating a bibliography.

Step 6: Write your paper

Begin by organizing the information you have collected. The next step is the rough draft, wherein you get your ideas on paper in an unfinished fashion. This step will help you organize your ideas and determine the form your final paper will take. After this, you will revise the draft as many times as you think necessary to create a final product to turn in to your instructor.

Step 7: Cite your sources properly

Give credit where credit is due; cite your sources.

Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves two purposes: it gives proper credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows those who are reading your work to duplicate your research and locate the sources that you have listed as references. The MLA and the APA Styles are two popular citation formats.

Failure to cite your sources properly is plagiarism. Plagiarism is avoidable!

Step 8: Proofread

The final step in the process is to proofread the paper you have created. Read through the text and check for any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure the sources you used are cited properly. Make sure the message that you want to get across to the reader has been thoroughly stated.

One major perk of being a Stanford student is that you will have opportunities to do original research with the Stanford faculty. Faculty across the university are engaged in research, and if you are interested in joining them in their pursuit, it will be up to you to get the ball rolling.

Ways of doing research

Generally speaking, there are two ways Stanford students can engage in research:

  • You can assist a faculty member with their research project
  • You can pursue your own independent research project (guided by a faculty mentor), where the research question and methodology are determined by you

Some students just assist in faculty research and then decide that they are not interested in pursuing their own research project. Other students don’t get involved in research until the day they are ready to propose their own independent project. And some students will pursue both options: usually they assist a faculty member earlier in their Stanford career, and then engage in their own independent research project later on.

How can I get involved with faculty research?

Assisting a professor with their research project can teach you valuable new skills, help you determine whether or not you enjoy the research process, and prompt you to think about whether you may want to design your own research project someday. There are many ways you can get involved.

Apply to a structured research program

During the summer, many departments and centers will have a research program that hires dozens of students for full-time summer work. Be sure to check the list of departments and centers that receive VPUE funding, as these are the most likely places to find such summer research programs. There are also a several summer research programs that are not funded by VPUE, such as the Bio-X Program and the NeURO Fellowship Program. The Stanford On & Off-Campus Learning Opportunities (SOLO) site is another place to search for research programs to apply to.

Note that most summer research programs will have their application deadlines either late in Autumn quarter or during Winter quarter.

In addition to these summer research programs, be aware that there are also structured research programs that happen at other times during the year. If you are interested in the Humanities, for example, check out the Humanities Research Intensive program, which happens over spring break (applications due in Autumn). And if you are interested in sciences and engineering, consider the ChEM-H Undergraduate Scholars Program, which runs from winter quarter through the following fall (applications due in Autumn).

Check job ads on mailing lists, newsletters, SOLO, and Handshake

Professors looking for research assistants often advertise over email (especially on their departmental mailing lists), on the weekly Academic Advising Newsletter, on SOLO, or on Handshake. If you’re not on any departmental mailing lists, ask the department’s Student Services Officer if you can be added to a mailing list for current or prospective majors. Job postings may happen during any quarter, and are usually for only one or two students for part-time work.

Connect with a professor you already know

There is no better place to start learning about research than chatting with a professor you may already know through classes or other connections. Rather than asking for a job up front, we recommend asking to meet during office hours to get advice on getting started in research. While it is possible your professor may have a research position open, you can still gain valuable tips and connections even if they have nothing available for you at the moment. Remember to ask what other faculty members your professor recommends that you reach out to if you are interested in doing research in this subject.

Reach out to a professor you haven’t met yet

If you have a topic of interest, but don’t yet know any professors working in that field, your first step is to find out which faculty are working on that topic.

  • Visit the department webpage for departments most closely related to your topic of interest. Take a look at the Faculty Profiles to find information about the research interests of the faculty associated with these departments.
  • Visit the Student Services Officer in the departments most closely related to your topic of interest. The Student Services Officer can talk with you about your interests and try to help you identify one or more faculty whose research you may want to learn more about.

Once you have identified the faculty whose research most interests you, visit their office hours or send them an email to request a meeting for further conversation about their research interests and your own. Again, rather than asking for a job up front, we recommend asking to meet during office hours to get advice on getting started in research. Remember to ask what other faculty members your professor recommends that you reach out to if you are interested in doing research in this subject.

Further Help

If you are uncertain about any of these steps, go talk with your Undergraduate Advising Director! They guide students at all stages of the research process to help them identify faculty and future mentors, think about how to start the conversation, and more. They are also good people to turn to when interested in getting funding for an independent project.

You can get started in a number of different ways. You can ask an instructor about their research, and some faculty members will approach students who are doing particularly well in their classes. Or, if you have a specific interest, you can look for a mentor or formal program in any department at Duke, including faculty in the professional schools.

Get Advice:

  • Attend URS how-to info sessions
  • Talk to your instructors, your advisor, your Director of Undergraduate Studies or a Director of Academic Engagement for suggestions.
  • Talk to fellow students, including a Duke Undergraduate Research Society Research Ambassador.
  • Organize a timeline. Get some ideas for how to planwith this calendar.

Find mentors:

  • Learn about faculty research in the departmental web pages and [email protected]
  • Search the archive of Honors Theses in DukeSpace or the URS Honors Theses
  • See what other students have done on the URS Student Stories or come to Visible Thinking and departmental symposia in the spring

Apply for Research Projects & Positions:

  • Search DukeList for paid positions such as jobs and internships (and more)
  • Search the Muser database for available projects and positions posted by Duke researchers
  • Search the Social Science Research Institute listing of available projects and positions
  • Apply to a Bass Connection team working on real-world, interdisciplinary problems in one of several themes
  • Apply for a summer research program, research assistantships or to the Research Scholars Program

I want to explore my options for undergraduate research, but I don’t have a specific project in mind. Is that ok?

Don’t worry. Most faculty mentors don’t expect you to have a prize-winning idea. Indeed, in the natural and social sciences, where most faculty are involved in grant-funded research, your mentor will want you to plug into a specific project that is part of their ongoing research program. Your mentor will get you started on a project, teach you the tools and techniques, and provide the resources that you will need for your research.

You should bring an interest in the field, a willingness to learn, a commitment to being part of the research effort, and an enthusiasm that will carry you through to your goal of being an independent scholar.

I have a specific idea for a project that I want to do. Can I do that?

Undergraduate research must be a mentored experience. You may be able to pursue your own ideas if you can find a faculty mentor willing to provide support and guide your project. Get advice from the Director of Undergraduate Studies and contact prospective mentors. Expect to refine your ideas into a written proposal. If you need resources for your project, academic-year grants and summer fellowships are available from the URS Office.

I’ve identified some potential mentors. How do I approach them?

Expect to contact several potential mentors in your search for the right fit. Many faculty are active in research projects and are happy to mentor undergraduates. However, some faculty members may be on leave, or no longer active in research. And, in any given semester, an active research faculty member may only have time or resources to take on a limited number of undergraduate mentees.

But don’t be discouraged! There are a few simple rules to follow:

  • Contact the potential mentors well in advance
  • Be patient when if you don’t hear back right away, be persistent, and, if need be, follow up in person.
  • Be sure that you’ve done your homework so that you impress a potential mentor. You want them to know that you are really enthusiastic and committed to doing research under their direction.

Can I get funding for research?

Yes! The Undergraduate Research Support Office offers small grants for expenses associated with Independent Study projects, Graduation with Distinction projects, and for travel to conferences to present your work. We also provide assistantships to offset the salary of a student research assistant. In addition, summer fellowships are available from the URS Office and other departments at Duke, to support project and living expenses for mentored research projects. Finally, summer programs provide a stipend, and often cover other expenses, for an 8-10 week experience.

Getting Started in Research Workshop

In 2021, the URS Office and Directors of Academic Engagement hosted this workshop focusing on types of research experiences available for Duke Undergraduates and offers information on how and when students can learn about and pursue research opportunities.

How to get started with a research project

Getting Started with Research: A Guide to Research Methodology

Editors: Jens Allwood, Elisabeth Ahlsén, Azirah Hashim

A product of the Building Social Research Capacities in Higher Education Institutions in Lao PDR and Malaysia (BRECIL), a multi-country Erasmus+ CBHE joint project involving higher education institutions from both the EU and ASEAN countries.

Erasmus+ CBHE "Building Social Research Capacity in Higher Education Institution in Lao PDR and Malaysia"
(BRECIL, Project number: 585852-EPP-1-2017-1-MY-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP)

Book Description

This handbook presents and examines differing types of research methodology as well as critical thinking, academic writing, and oral presentation. It also discusses research and publication ethics, multi- and interdisciplinary research, research in relation to society, and the use of ICT in research, among other subjects. Considerable care has been taken to ensure that the content is relevant to building up research capacity in ASEAN. The book is designed to serve as an aid both in training trainers of research students and in training these students themselves.

The book has an orientation toward the social sciences and the humanities but also covers topics which are relevant for the natural sciences, technology and medicine. While technical training of specific methods in natural science, medicine and technology is outside of the scope of the book, many topics which are of general interest for all sciences are included.

How to get started with a research project

The University of Illinois is one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities with a long and rich history of scholarship, discovery, and innovation. Research at Illinois is diverse and ranges from the humanities and arts to biology and engineering. Undergraduate research opportunities can come in the form of:

  • structured research methods or project-based research courses;
  • programs sponsored by colleges, school, or departments;
  • guided assistantship or independent study under mentorship of faculty, graduate students, or research staff.

Now is the right time to start your undergraduate research journey! We encourage students to start as soon as they are ready. Some students start their research careers as Freshman or Sophomores, while others wait until their Junior or Senior year. Think through why you want to do research, how much time you have available each semester to commit, and how you are going to make the most of this experience.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is here to support you throughout your research journey! For help starting your research journey, be sure to attend one of our Getting Started in Undergraduate Research Workshops, consider scheduling a meeting with an ambassador or member of our staff, and follow our 10-steps to getting started below:

Reflect on how a research experience will benefit you and your academic journey at Illinois and beyond. Use research to explore your interests, deepen your knowledge, develop transferable skills, network with research colleagues, and contribute to a field (to name a few).

Be proactive and develop a plan. When will you begin? How much time will you devote – a few semesters or more? How will you make room for research in your schedule? Remember, research takes time. Work with your academic advisor on developing a balanced course load.

Broadly speaking, what interests you? Post-colonial South Asian literature? Climate change in the Arctic? Arts-based community development? The rise of Big Data? Learning behaviors in infants? Some combination of these? Students often have many interests, including topics that lie outside their major, and that’s okay! Make a list and rank your interests in order of preference.

Illinois is a public research university with a history of creativity and innovation. Research is everywhere! Now that you’ve identified your interests, find out what programs, internships, or research projects align with those interests. Look through college and departmental webpages, talk to your undergraduate advisor, ask a professor or graduate student, or talk to a friend doing research to identify programs and units.

Undergraduate research is an apprenticeship and requires an effective and supportive mentor. Mentors can be faculty, post-doctoral researchers, research staff, or graduate students. Do your research and find a mentor whose research interests you. To find a mentor: look for research descriptions on departmental webpages; do a keyword search on Illinois Experts to find names of mentors; and leverage your network and enlist friends, professors, and TAs, to aid you in your search.

How does this prospective mentor’s research align with your values, interests, and goals? Be sure to reference answers to #1, #2, and #3, above during your reflection. What appeals to you and excites you about their research? What skills and experiences might you gain? Write down these answers – you will use this information when initiating contact.

Invest time into crafting a personalized email. Include your interests, goals, and ambitions. Reference the information you gathered in #6. Include your major, relevant courses, year in school, any training or skills you might have. Be clear about what you’re looking for: internship? Assistantship? Independent project? Finally, be concise: no more than 300 words or so. PRO TIP: Read and reference their recent scholarship (articles, books, news releases).

Haven’t heard back? Relax; faculty, etc., are busy! Be courteous, polite, professional, and persistent to demonstrate your interest in their research and respect for their time. Usually, you should wait at least 7 days before sending a followup. PRO TIP: Persistence doesn’t mean every day; following up too early or frequently can be a bother.

Have an interview? Be prepared! Revisit your notes. Prepare a (short) list of questions. Be a few minutes early and bring your resume. Be ready to share why you’d like to work with them. Bring your schedule and be prepared to discuss your weekly availability.

Within 12 hours, send a brief “thank you” email. This will further demonstrate your interest and will also show that you respect and are thankful for their time.

How to get started with a research project

It can be overwhelming to navigate the University and sponsor requirements when applying for a grant for sponsored funding. Here’s what you need to know to get started and to understand how this website is organized.

Understand the Research Project Lifecycle

Our processes and our website are organized according to the lifecycle of a research project to enable understanding of sponsored projects from the beginning phases (pre-award) to the award start and completion phases (post-award). Research projects are complex with regard to both the science and the administration. A sponsored project’s lifecycle could extend for just a few months to decades.

How to get started with a research project

Understand Pre-Award and Post-Award

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) primarily handles pre-award activities but also has roles throughout the life of a project. ORSP is a unit of the U-M Office of Research (OVPR).

ORSP project representatives review proposals and awards, negotiate agreements. ORSP processes all awards to Sponsored Programs (a unit of Finance) who partner with us to handle the financial aspects of post-award activities.

While Finance-Sponsored Programs handles post-award financial activities, ORSP continues to support project teams during post-award and throughout the remainder of the project lifecycle, working with the U-M project teams and various sponsors to meet research-related milestones, technical reporting, award changes, and closeout. ORSP helps (a) advocate for our research community in its pursuits, (b) protect U-M from financial and reputational harm, and (c) help our sponsors achieve their scientific and programmatic goals.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) primarily handles pre-award activities but also has roles throughout the life of a project. ORSP is a unit of the U-M Office of Research (OVPR).

Leverage Your Unit Research Administrator’s Knowledge

Even before working with ORSP, you should start by working with the research administrator (RA) within your school/college/institute/department/unit who can help with policies, processes, systems, and forms. If you do not know who that person is you can use our Blue Pages to look up your research administrator to get a name and contact information.

Additionally, consult the general brochures at the bottom of the page. Contact [email protected] with questions!

Understand the Difference Between ORSP (Research) and Sponsored Programs (Finance)

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) assists faculty and principal investigators (PIs) wishing to conduct research funded by an external sponsor, testing, or, to engage in research-related agreements with industry, non-profit, and governmental entities. Research grants from industrial and non-profit sponsors don’t always have the same flexibility as they do with federal sponsors, so ORSP’s Project Representatives help negotiate, facilitate and manage grants, agreements, and sponsored research relations.

Sponsored Programs’ customer service staff help with financial milestones. while Sponsored Programs manages the financial post-award activities of the University of Michigan’s research enterprise and other sponsored activities to ensure compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws as well as sponsor regulations.

Sponsored Programs primarily handles financial post-award activities and is a unit of Finance.

What is a Sponsor and what do I need to know about Sponsored Projects?

A sponsor is an entity that funds a project that might include research, training, or other sponsored research activity, which could be a grant, contract, subcontract/sub-award, cooperative agreement, memorandum of understanding, etc.

There are various types of sponsors, such as government (federal agencies, state agencies) or private (corporate or industry, or foundations and non-profit organizations).

Within our Sponsor section you can learn about what a sponsored project is, how to distinguish it from a gift, and how to work with sponsors from the various private or government sectors.

Helpful Hints for Faculty Working With ORSP

How to get started with a research project

  • In early discussions with sponsors, defer discussions of indirect cost arrangements to ORSP.
  • Utilize ORSP for negotiation and review of agreements and grants.
  • Leverage our signing authority services and grant acceptance on behalf of the University.
  • Sign up for The RAP and its related newsletters for need-to-know sponsored research updates and resources.
  • ORSP reviews and submits all proposals seeking external funding. For the most comprehensive review and submission, adhere to our Deadline Policy.

Where Should I Begin When Navigating this Website?

We have created some video tutorials to help you navigate the ORSP website. Each video is about 30 seconds long, and it will take you about 10 minutes to watch all of them together. The videos cover components and features on the website as well as key content. Additionally, here is a list of useful website resources — some of our “greatest hits” of web pages and how to use them.

Invest time in thinking about how getting involved in research can complement your academic goals. Work with Cornell advisors to plan when to engage in research and how to gain the most from the experience.

Types of Positions

Students at Cornell are involved in research in a number of different capacities and at different levels.

Academic Credit

Many students earn credit for undergraduate research they do at Cornell during the academic year. Credit is not given for research done off-campus, unless it is done with a Cornell professor who is working off-campus.

Research Funding

Undergraduates involved in faculty research sometimes receive academic credit, sometimes receive pay, and occasionally volunteer their time. Your personal interests, time, and the options a researcher can offer are key factors as you seek a position.

Recognition for Research

Latin honors (cum, magna, etc.) differs among colleges. Fellowships and awards are an excellent way to gain recognition for research achievement. Look at applications for awards within Cornell and nationally.

Student Clubs & Related Groups

There are a number of student organizations with a focus on undergraduate research. Student-run, with faculty mentors, these organizations provide peer and faculty advice, leadership and writing experience, and annual opportunities to present research.


Students leave their research for a variety of reasons, such as change in research interests, not enough time in their schedule, or if the dynamics between their advisor or lab group just aren’t right.

How to get started with a research project

You’ve been tasked with completing a research project and are excited to get started. But after spending days struggling over where to begin, you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering how to get your research idea off the ground.

To help provide insight and reveal how one university is helping its students create impactful and relevant research projects, we spoke with Mary Beth Curtin, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives in the Office for the Vice President for Research, at Binghamton University of New York.

With 23 organized research centers, Binghamton University , State University of New York is renowned as one of the top public research universities in the U.S. for its facilities, partnerships, and research opportunities.

The University’s research directly supports the academic work of over 1,000 full-time faculty and 3,500 graduate students. Binghamton University is uniquely positioned to offer research opportunities across dozens of academic disciplines. Designated as an RI institution with “very high research activity,” the campus attracts about $50 million in external research funding annually. “Binghamton University maintains a mid-sized institution while simultaneously employing over 1,000 research faculty, which means nearly all graduate students are afforded opportunities to participate in funded research,” Curtin said.

“Research serves as a focal point for academic inquiry as students, faculty, and staff members work to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, ranging from anthropological work on Easter Island to fundamental improvements in lithium ion batteries .”

* This article is sponsored by Binghamton University.

Identify your research topic

The first step in the research process is selecting a topic, which can be one of the more challenging tasks of the project.

Here are some tips for selecting the perfect topic:

  • Choose a topic of personal interest to you and learn as much as you can about it.
  • Ensure that you can find enough information about your topic by doing a preliminary search of sources.
  • A topic that includes too much information may need to be narrowed down in scope.
  • Be original! If possible, find a topic that distinguishes you from the same research ideas your instructor reads every year.
  • If you’re still struggling to find an idea, reach out to your advisor or instructor.

“Students should begin by discussing their research interest with their faculty advisor,” said Curtin. “Faculty will be able to help them with any questions and guidelines to inform their research.”

Locate resources

There are several credible resources available to assist you with your research projects, including books, brochures, journals, magazines, scholarly articles, newspapers, reputable websites, databases, and journals. You can also conduct your own field research where you collect data through observation, experimentation, interviews, or surveys.

“Numerous opportunities exist for undergraduate students to pursue research and scholarly or creative work in their disciplines. In addition to financial and logistical support from Binghamton University, a wide variety of grants, fellowships, awards, internships from external sources is available, including support provided by museums, libraries, archives, laboratories, and research foundations. The Office of Undergraduate Research works with students to match them up with research opportunities.”

Organize your data

Take the data you have collected and organize it. Create a rough draft to illustrate your ideas. Although unfinished, this step will help you organize your ideas and determine the format your final report will take. Make sure to cite your sources properly (many students use MLA or APA styles). Most importantly, proofread your work, checking for spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues. Has your hypothesis been clearly stated with supporting data to prove or disprove it? Revise your draft as necessary to create a final product that’s ready to submit to your instructor.

Overcoming obstacles

What should students do if they hit a major roadblock during their research project? Curtin advises students to reach out to faculty members who are available to help them solve any issues they may encounter while working on their research project.

Careers in research

If you enjoy working on research projects, you may consider a career in the research field. But, how do you know if you’re equipped for a future career in research?

Successful research students should have an analytical mind,” Curtin said. “They should be determined and committed to their projects. They should be curious and questioning of research results. At the same time, they should be able to communicate their findings and methods clearly.”

Need help finding the right graduate program for you? Check out Peterson’s Grad School search tool .