Undergraduate Research and Scholarship
Grant Application Tips
- Where to Begin
- Selecting a Faculty Mentor
- Writing a Proposal
- Funding Your Research
- Communicating the Results of Your Research
The first thing you need to know is how to do research or creative activities in your discipline. Most departments offer courses in how to perform research as well as courses that require some type of research activity as part of the course work. Many faculty members will require that you have some previous knowledge of how research is done in your discipline of interest before they will agree to be your mentor. In addition, most departments offer an independent studies course (often numbered 470, 490 or 491) that can include a research project. For details of the courses please contact the respective department or course instructor.
Selecting a Research Topic
Identify a subject area of interest to you. Using the BGSU library and Ohio Link electronic journals, do a cursory search of the current literature to identify a specific issue or problem that you wish to further investigate. The University Libraries Research Project Clinics are an excellent way to learn how to develop search strategies and what resources are available.
Explore Your Department for Undergraduate Research
Many departments have detailed web pages offering advice and explaining requirements. Some also list previous research projects completed by undergraduates.
CURS is developing searchable databases of current undergraduate research opportunities and research opportunities for undergraduates submitted by faculty members. Check back soon for these valuable services.
The connection between student participants and faculty mentors is typically achieved in one of three ways:
- Students with a project in mind approach a faculty member.
- Faculty member presents possible topics to students.
- Faculty member identifies, through personal interaction, students that show particular promise for research.
The first two of these means for connecting students with faculty mentors are often stymied by poor communications. To promote better communication of research interests and opportunities of students and faculty, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship is developing a database of research opportunities for undergraduates submitted by faculty members. In this database, faculty list a range of possible research experiences, including volunteer positions, paid positions, and mentored scholarship that can lead to an undergraduate thesis project. The database will include project descriptions, links to web sites with additional information, and contact information.
In addition, many departments maintain web pages outlining the research interests of their faculty members. You should check your home department's web site or contact the undergraduate advisor.
Once you have selected a topic and connected with a faculty mentor its time to put your thoughts and ideas into written form. A generic flowchart is outlined below to help guide you through the proposal writing process. However, you should consult with your faculty mentor to learn the specifics of proposal writing in your discipline.
- Define the problem and do a comprehensive literature search specific to the question you are looking to resolve.
- Compile the important findings/observations relating to the question.
- Define specific tasks that you would perform in order to resolve the question, determine the anticipated results of these tasks and what conclusions you might draw from them, and consider how alternative results would influence your interpretation and possible follow up experiments/analysis.
- Write it up! Most writers find that starting with an extended outline aids greatly in organizing their thoughts. While proposal format varies form discipline to discipline and with different funding sources, most proposals consist of the following (or similar) sections:
- Title Page
- Executive Summary of proposed work in lay terms.
Why the problem is important, what work has been done in the past, and what needs to be done
- Statement of Project Goals/Objectives
Specific statement of what you propose to do and why
- Proposed plan of action
Outline how you will do the project
- Anticipated results
What you plan to accomplish
- Cited Literature
- Figures and tables
Figures and tables may be imbedded in the text or attached here. All figures must have a caption and all tables must have a heading.
- Budget and Justification
- Endorsement Letters
Remember, you are asking for support (typically financial support), so you must make it easy for the reader to understand what you propose to do, why it is important, and how you will successfully complete the project within the requested timeframe and budget.
Now for the harsh reality. research isn't free! In many cases, you can conduct your research using the resources already provided by the University (i.e., resources paid for by state subsidy and tuition). Should your research project require additional sources of funding, there are several avenues you can pursue to secure these funds. Below are listed several sources for funding undergraduate research projects, please consult with your faculty advisor to determine what the best source(s) would be for funding your project.
Funding Through CURS
- Awards in Support of Undergraduate Research (ASUR)
The Awards in Support of Undergraduate Research (ASUR) Program was created to encourage independent research projects by undergraduate students at Bowling Green State University . The goal of the program is to promote scholarly research and creative activities. The projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.
- Summer Undergraduate Research Scholarships (SURS)
Funding through Departments and Colleges
Many Departments, Schools, and Colleges at BGSU provide financial assistance to undergraduates involved in research. Click here for a list of these funding opportunities outlined by discipline. Ask your faculty mentor or contact your home department to find out more about departmental support.
External Funding Sources
- Many faculty members have external funding for undergraduate researchers. Contact individual faculty members to ask if they have funding for undergraduates.
- Several Foundations and Government Agencies provide financial support for undergraduate research activities. Click here for a list of external funding opportunities.
- You should consult with your faculty mentor on what programs may be appropriate for funding of your project. Your faculty mentor should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR) to search for other sources of external funding and help in grant writing.
A fundamental tenet in defining what activities constitute research is that regardless of the disciplinary traditions, the results are worthy of communication to others. This communication may take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article, a juried exhibition or performance, or a presentation at a professional conference or symposium.
Publishing your Research Results
For many disciplines, the most important means to communicate your research results is in the form of a research article published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. At the completion of your project, you should consult with your faculty mentor to decide if your results should be published in a scholarly journal. Your faculty mentor can help you write the article and to decide to which journal you should submit the manuscript.
- Tutorial on writing scientific manuscripts produced by the Journal of Young Investigators
- List of peer-reviewed journals that are primarily dedicated to publishing undergraduate student research papers
Presenting your Research Results
At the completion of your project, you should consult with your faculty mentor to decide where the results of your research activities should be presented. Most professional societies encourage submissions from undergraduates for their conferences, exhibitions or performance competitions.
- National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
The National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) promotes undergraduate research scholarship and creative activity done in partnership with faculty mentors as a vital component of higher education. Since 1987, NCUR has sponsored an annual conference for undergraduate scholars from all institutions of higher learning in all disciplines to present their work to a national audience. For more information visit the NCUR website.
- BGSU Symposium on Undergraduate Research
The BGSU Symposium on Undergraduate Research is an annual event sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. The purpose of this event is to celebrate the scholarly accomplishment of undergraduate students and provide them with a venue in which to share the results of their projects with others. Undergraduates in all disciplines are invited to present the results of their independent research projects and other creative activities. All University students, faculty and staff plus community members and friends are invited to attend. Click here for details on how you can participate in this year's symposium.
- Department, School, and College Sponsored Opportunities
Many departments, schools, and colleges at BGSU provide opportunities for undergraduate scholars to present the results of their research and creative activities at local events. Click here for a list of these opportunities.
Support for Presenting your Research Results
The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship provides financial assistance for students presenting their research results through two programs:
- Undergraduate Research Presentation Awards (URPA)
The Undergraduate Research Presentation Awards (URPA) Program was created to encourage undergraduate students at Bowling Green State University to present their research and creative activities at professional conferences and juried exhibitions or performances. Students must present their own research or creative work as the primary (first) author, exhibitor, or performer. Click here for details and guideline for applying.
- NCUR travel awards
This program will provide financial support for select undergraduate students who wish to present their research results at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Established in 1987, NCUR has become the premier national conference for undergraduate scholars from all academic disciplines.
Other Sources of Support for Communicating the Results of Your Research
Many departments and colleges also provide financial support for communication of your research results. Ask your faculty mentor or contact your home department or college directly.
Also, many professional societies provide travel assistants to students who wish to participate in conferences in their respective field of interest. Consult with your faculty advisor.