Mentored research offers one of the best opportunities for teaching and learning. While LUROP offers workshops, panel discussions, and other resources for researchers and mentors, the most important teaching and learning takes place between the mentor and student directly. For this reason, LUROP seeks to equip undergraduate researchers and their mentors with tools to get the most out of mentored research.
On this page, you will find 1) a list of general learning objectives for undergraduate researchers, 2) a list of effective practices for undergraduate researchers, and 3) a list of effective practices for research mentors. You can also find 4) a template for a research learning agreement, and 4) a template for a research progress report. Click on the title of each section to download a PDF version of the text.
Mentors, please note that you can find articles on mentorship and other resources for mentors by clicking "resources for mentors" on the left.
Finally, please note the link at the bottom of the page to an interactive feature on avoiding academic misconduct that may be of interest to students and mentors.
Through research, students should learn to be able to:
- Articulate a clear research question or problem and formulate a hypothesis
- Identify and demonstrate appropriate research methodologies and know when to use them
- Define, articulate and use terminology, concepts, and theory in their field and know how to use them
- Use library and other tools to search for existing body of research relevant to their topic
- Know existing body of research relevant to their topic and explain how their project fits
- Identify and practice research ethics and responsible conduct in research
- Know and apply problem solving skills to constructively address research setbacks
- Work collaboratively with other researchers, using listening and communication skills
- Work autonomously in an effective manner, setting and meeting deadlines
- Reflect on their own research, identifying lessons learned, strengths, and ways to improve
- Communicate confidently and constructively with graduate students and faculty as mentors
- Explain their research to others in the field and to broader audiences through research presentations
- Articulate the relevance of their research to their coursework and professional future, synthesizing their research, academic, and professional interests and goals
- Identify and describe what they could expect as a graduate student
- Reflect constructively on their research experience in making decisions about their future, whether for grad school or the workforce
- Approach research as a learning experience, setting a goal of not only learning content, but also developing skills you can apply in the future. See LUROP’s list of learning objectives for undergraduate researchers for a general list of the skills you should consider. Take ownership of learning those skills.
- Communicate with your mentor about your expectations. Listen to their own expectations and goals for you (including work habits and time commitment), and formalize your working relationship through a learning agreement/research contract. See LUROP’s sample research learning agreement for an example. Meet those expectations.
- Provide regular, useful reports to your mentor, and ask for regular, constructive feedback. Consider weekly meetings and monthly reports, and always focus on improving your skills.
- Where appropriate, ask your mentor questions and discuss your research to keep them in the loop and cultivate your academic communication skills.
- Even if you are working as part of a team or assisting your mentor, work with your mentor to carve out a niche over which you have responsibility and take intellectual ownership. And make sure that you produce work that is beneficial to your collaborators and mentor as well.
- Discuss ethical and responsible research conduct with your mentor.
- Use LUROP, your mentor, and your colleagues to find opportunities to present your research at conferences, and to train yourself to deliver effective research presentations. Take advantage of LUROP workshops for these and other skills.
- Build a professional network—introduce yourself to your mentor’s colleagues and graduate students, build ties with other undergraduate researchers, and look into honors societies and professional organizations.
- Think about connections between your research and courses. Consider making an e-portfolio.
- Discuss grad school and career options with your mentor and others in your research network.
- Learn about compliance requirements and financial paperwork required for your research.
- Meet with other undergraduate researchers to discuss effective practices.
- Approach mentoring in part like teaching, training students in the skills they need to succeed in their research project. See LUROP’s list of learning objectives for undergraduate researchers for a general list of the skills you should consider teaching your researchers.
- Set clear expectations for the student’s role (work habits, time commitment, etc.), and your goals for them as a researcher. Listen to their own expectations and goals, and formalize your working relationship through a learning agreement/research contract. See LUROP’s sample research learning agreement for an example.
- Provide regular, constructive feedback, and expect regular communication from your researcher. Consider weekly meetings and monthly reports.
- Make yourself available to your researcher for questions and advice, and spend an adequate amount of time with them to cultivate their academic communication skills.
- Even if students are working as part of a collaborative team or assisting you with your project, work with your researcher to carve out a niche over which they have responsibility and take intellectual ownership.
- Train your researcher in research ethics and responsible conduct.
- Let your student researcher know about opportunities to present their research at conferences and help equip them to deliver effective research presentations.
- Assist your researcher in building a professional network—introduce them to colleagues and graduate students who may serve as additional mentors, consider taking them to professional conferences provide opportunities, and introduce them to honors societies and professional organizations.
- Help students make connections between their research and their coursework.
- Discuss graduate school and career options with your researcher where appropriate, offer useful advice about their professional career.
- Involve your researcher in—or inform them about—the procedures that support their research, including IRB and other compliance requirements and financial paperwork.
- Meet with other research mentors to discuss effective practices.
Undergraduate researchers and their mentors should discuss, complete, and sign a research contract or learning agreement together at the beginning of their project, turn to it when needed, and reflect on it when the research has ended. Please review research learning objectives and effective practices for researchers and mentors beforehand.
Highlight the main responsibilities of the undergraduate researcher in this research project (including hours):
Highlight the main responsibilities of the mentor in this research project (including frequency of direct work and meetings with researcher):
What professional qualities (work ethic, initiative, communication, etc.) will the undergraduate researcher demonstrate, and how will they serve as an asset to their mentor.
What skills will the mentor teach the researcher, and how will they serve as an asset to their researcher.
In what form and how often will the undergraduate researcher document and report their research work to the mentor?
In what form and how often will the mentor provide constructive feedback to the research mentor?
What is the timeline for completing the key components of the research project?
Describe the measurable final product(s) that will serve as the goal(s) for this research project (data set, research paper, presentation, article, etc.)?
Undergraduate researchers should submit regular progress reports to their mentors. This prompt is designed for a more comprehensive mid-term report. Before completing this report, students should review their learning agreement with their mentor as well as LUROP’s list of research learning objectives and effective practices for researchers and mentors.
Please write a brief report, 2–3 pages double-spaced, responding to the following questions, and e-mail it as an attachment to your mentor.
- What research have you done so far, what obstacles have you encountered (and how did you address them), what work do you have left to do, and what, if any, future plans you have for the project? Consider the timeline you outlined in your learning agreement, and please include any data you feel is most relevant.
- What have you learned in the process of conducting your research? What skills have you learned, and what have you learned about yourself as well as your research topic? Has this undergraduate research experience informed your future plans beyond Loyola? How?
- What would you say has been the most valuable aspect of the research fellowship experience so far and why? Based on your experience so far, in what way would you change your work for the second half of the project to better benefit both you and your mentor?
- Is there any other information you want to share about this mentored research experience?
The Office of Research Integrity has produced this interactive feature for students and faculty to explore ways to navigate ethical decision-making in a research experience. You can choose-your-own-adventure as a faculty member, research integrity officer, post-doc, or grad student. Though there is no undergraduate character, the story of the graduate student may closely match the situation of some undergraduates. This feature is geared toward the sciences, but informative (and entertaining) for all.