How to Develop a Research Project
Each research project is different. In order to build a successful project, you will need to consider time, scale, and resources. Work with your faculty, graduate student, and/or community partner mentor(s) to plan your project. Here are some key steps to consider:
Develop a Research Question
Identify a specific topic, burning question, or issue that sparks your curiosity and pursue it. What interests you? What would you like to learn more about? Is there a problem you would like to solve? An issue you would like to explore?
Review the Literature
Explore how your project fits into existing knowledge and scholarship. Is there important background or context for your project? How have other scholars approached your topic? What are the key conversations in your field? What might be missing from the conversation?
Design the Project
What steps will you take to investigate the research question? What methods or approaches will you use? What preparation will you need before beginning research? What skills or tools will you need? Consult with your mentor to discuss the next steps of your research and create a detailed timeline for the project.
Carry out your research! Gather and reflect on data. Keep track of your progress and begin thinking about how your research answers and/or complicates your initial research questions.
Analyze the data you have collected. Draw conclusions about your outcomes. What have you learned or discovered? What kinds of new questions does your research introduce? What does your project contribute to ongoing conversations about your project’s central topic, problem, or issue?
Share Your Research
Share what you have learned! Work with your mentor to determine how you will share your research with the broader scholarly and/or public community and in what form. Present your project at the Undergraduate Research & Engagement Symposium, Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium, and/or other conferences in your field or discipline. Ask your mentor about publishing your research in professional journals or other relevant venues.