Why Do Research?

Research allows you to pursue your interests, to learn something new, to hone your problem-solving skills and to challenge yourself in new ways. Working on a faculty-initiated research project gives you the opportunity work closely with a mentor–a faculty member or other experienced researcher. With a self-initiated research project, you leave the University of Montana with a product that represents the distillation of your interests and studies, and possibly, a real contribution to knowledge.

Why should you consider getting involved in research and creative scholarship:

  • Gain hands-on experience completing a research or creative project.
  • Work closely with a faculty mentor and have the opportunity to connect with other faculty and other student researchers who work in your area of interest.
  • Earn academic credit, scholarships, stipends and/or other awards for having conducted research.
  • Hone your leadership and teamwork skills as you collaborate with others.
  • Gain academic credentials that will help create a well-rounded resume, publishing your work and working with a research team.
  • Learn valuable life skills for life and class such as professionalism, time management, learning how to use online research tools.
  • Learn valuable skills for life and class (professionalism, time management, multi-tasking, online research tools).
  • Learn to effectively communicate your ideas and how to analyze and critique the work of others.
  • Assisting in research gives you hands-on experience in your field.
  • You gain a deeper understanding of the scientific process... develop research questions and form and test your hypotheses.
  • You learn what it’s like to work in a lab and learn about the planning of experiments, writing grants and how to report findings.
  • You can get paid. Sometimes as an employee and sometimes as a scholarship
  • You can publish your work. If you help a faculty member they will mention your work, or you
  • An excellent opportunity to develop relationships with faculty members who work in your area of interest and make connections with other students working on research. You will build a strong working relationship with a faculty mentor and be able to ask for a letter of recommendation.
  • An opportunity to hone your leadership and teamwork skills as you collaborate with others.
  • Opportunity to discover new knowledge and expand about what you already know.
  • Create a well-rounded resume--you will show "hands-on" experience. You know how to produce results.

You should try to take advantage of every opportunity to make the most of your college experience. Engaging in projects, whether in a laboratory, a library, a music or art studio, or elsewhere, is a good way of developing your talents and abilities, finding out the kind of work you are good at, and preparing for graduate study or a career. Such projects often lead to presentations at professional conferences, which can be a great asset as you apply for graduate school, scholarships, or even jobs.

Every field of study has its own research problems and methods. As a researcher you seek answers to questions of great interest to you. Your research problem could be aesthetic, social, political, scientific or technical. You choose the tools, gather and analyze the data, and report your findings to a wider audience.

What is it like to do research?

The research experience varies greatly. You might work alone, or in a large team. You could conduct your research in a library, a museum, a laboratory, or a community. For an introduction to the research experience, see Student Profiles.