Undergraduate Research

What is Undergraduate Research?

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research, undergraduate research is defined as a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge.

Penn State offers a variety of undergraduate research opportunities for students. To explore these options further, check out the Understanding Research page on the Undergraduate Research and Fellowship Mentoring Office's website.

What Are the Benefits of Undergraduate Research?

Engaging in undergraduate research brings a wealth of benefits your way. It's not just about hitting the books; it's about forging meaningful mentoring connections with faculty members, taking your academic experience to a whole new level. This connection significantly contributes to boosting student retention rates and achieving higher graduation success within academic programs. What's even more exciting is that diving into undergraduate research serves as a launchpad for increased enrollment in graduate education, setting the stage for effective career preparation.

This experience isn't just about learning; it's about refining key skills like critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual independence. As you get hands-on with research methodology, you'll gain a thorough understanding of the investigative process. The emphasis on research isn't just a nod to innovation; it's about cultivating a forward-thinking mindset. Ultimately, the benefits of undergraduate research extend beyond academic enrichment, shaping competencies essential for career readiness and ensuring a workforce that's well-prepared for the future.

How do the University Libraries Support Undergraduate Research?

Academic libraries are instrumental champions of undergraduate research, providing a wealth of resources and support services. Whether it's access to an extensive collection of books, journals, and online databases or the guidance of knowledgeable librarians offering consultations and information literacy workshops, students find a rich tapestry of assistance. The technological amenities, including computer labs and collaborative spaces, offer the necessary tools and environments for seamless research collaboration. Interlibrary loan services expand the horizons of available resources, while citation management support aids students in meticulous source attribution. Specialized offerings, such as archives and special collections, unveil unique primary sources, and online catalogs ensure 24/7 access to digital materials. In essence, academic libraries are warm and dynamic hubs, fostering an environment where undergraduate students feel empowered to embark on meaningful and rigorous research journeys.