Undergraduate Research Information


The Ohio State University has a strong commitment to fostering undergraduate research and creating a scholarly community where every undergraduate has the opportunity to engage in academic inquiry.

There are many ways to be involved in undergraduate research at the University.  The first point of contact for most students interested in research is the Undergraduate Research Office.  This resource has many structured activities for helping students start to explore research opportunities as well as what research most interests them and has peer support with students currently involved in research.

  • One way in which the URO supports research is by encouraging students to apply for a Research Scholar Award  for seed money to start a research project.  These are a one-time award of $1,000 for first-time researchers of any rank and any discipline. Applications are due the first of each month.
  •  Students should start a PURE portfolio to track details of each research experience they undertake while at OSU.  Information can be found at http://undergraduateresearch.osu.edu/. Tracking their research experiences and keeping copies of the abstracts strengthens students’ resumes upon graduation.



Getting involved in undergraduate research

Most students who pursue undergraduate research have developed, usually in the classroom or during office hours, a good relationship with a professor whose work is of interest to them. Most professors are also engaged in ongoing research as part of their job duties, and often a student may enquire about research assistant opportunities. Alternatively, students may approach these professors to ask for support in sponsoring the student’s own scholarly research. These students typically already have a research question in mind and it is usually closely related to the professor’s area of expertise.

  • Students who have not made close connections with a classroom instructor may also visit the website of the department with which the instructor is associated; most department websites contain information about the ongoing scholarly activities of their faculty. Students are encouraged to review some of the faculty member’s scholarly publications (available at the University libraries) to determine whether their own research interests align with the work that individual is doing.  If the student believes that their research interests are compatible, the student may endeavor to contact the faculty member to discuss his/her research and to develop a rapport with him/her before asking whether he/she would be willing to supervise the students’ work.
    • Some resourceful students have also attended undergraduate research forums and talked to the researchers presenting (fellow students) about their research, their faculty mentors, and whether they would be interested in collaborating!
  • All students are encouraged to remember that supervising student research is an ongoing process and a time commitment on the part of the faculty member.  Thus, students should make every effort to be professional and pro-active (proposing solutions and engaging in a great deal of the research work independently) in their projects.  The URO is a wonderful research for answering general questions about the research process and resources to get started.


Research can take many forms.  Types of research include laboratory research, human subjects research, case-studies, and literature reviews just to name a few.  Each type of research is valuable and the type of research engaged in will usually be directed by the research question as well as the strengths and interests of the researcher.

  •  Students may also consider engaging in research opportunities outside of their primary area of academic study.  The research process can be learned via any type of research but learning how other discipline approach problem-solving tasks can help students develop valuable insights related to how to work with professionals of different backgrounds when part of a research team.
  • Students should also seek out opportunities to present or publish their research.  There are a number of undergraduate research presentation opportunities on campus, but there are also student presentation opportunities at professional conferences.  OSU also publishes the Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State to give students publishing opportunities beyond those of publishing in professional journals.


Around campus there are a variety of options for research experience.  There are formal/paid research assistant positions, academic credit research experiences, and volunteer/independent research experiences.  Some departments have formal research experiences available to interested students.  Often this information is housed on the department’s website.


Graduation with Research Distinction

Graduation with Research Distinction is a process available to OSU students who have a wish to engage in independent scholarly inquiry.  The process closely models a graduate-level research thesis process to give students insight into the process in the event that they pursue further education beyond the Baccalaureate level.  The process generally requires:

  • The student has a faculty research advisor.
  • The student must submit a short thesis proposal to the SHRS Honors Committee.
    • The proposal must be signed by the faculty research advisor; this ensures that all parties have a common understanding of the proposed plan to complete a thesis for a given graduation deadline.
  • The student completes a written thesis that follows acceptable standards for a scholarly paper as defined by the SHRS Honors Committee.
  • The student completes a satisfactory oral defense of the thesis.
    • The oral defense will last one hour.
    • The defense will be evaluated by a committee of at least two faculty members.
      • One faculty member must have tenure-track status.
      • The chair of the committee is typically the  research advisor.
      • The third faculty committee member is a representative of the Honors Committee.
    • A written document confirming successful defense of the thesis or project will be submitted by the thesis committee chair to the  SHRS Honors Committee.

The successfully defended thesis is published by The Ohio State University to its Knowledge Bank for distribution and use in future educational and research endeavors.


Students are welcome to speak to their advisors about additional options and opportunities.