What is it?

Research is more than just reviewing what others have already done and summarizing it in a long research paper for class. Research revolves around a specific hypothesis and follows the scientific method. Most research is experiment, survey, or observationally based. Research does not have to be limited to healthcare or science fields and instead, may cover diverse subject matters.

Examples of research:

  • Working in a genetics lab to determine how gene therapy influences deafness in mice
  • Collecting sea snails and observing how quickly they reproduce and in what conditions
  • Conducting interviews with women about how religion influences their self-efficacy
  • Experimenting with how fire-fighters get dressed to increase response rates in emergencies
  • Surveying teens about their views of sexuality

Why should I do it?

Many health professions programs will require you to assist in research, understand how to interpret research, or even run your own research projects. Moreover, you will likely have opportunities to participate in research as a way of receiving financial compensation or to improve your attractiveness to residency programs. Completing research in your undergraduate coursework shows your potential to be successful in graduate level research—you are proving that your learning curve will not be too steep because you have done this before.

Research is essential for the following programs:

  • Medical school (especially MD)
  • Veterinary school

Research is VERY STRONGLY recommended for the following programs:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Dental school
  • Podiatry

Research gives you a competitive advantage for the following programs:

  • Pharmacy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Chiropractic school

What are the expectations?

Many students wait to start working on research until their sophomore or junior year because research often requires enough coursework to provide a strong academic background and an introduction to research principles. Regardless, research should typically be completed prior to the application in order to qualify for credit on the application. Research may be in any subject, as long as it is hypothesis-based.

  • Research must be hypothesis-based
  • Research must be supervised or mentored by someone familiar with research processes
  • Research must follow scientific processes and is not simply reading about research that is already completed
  • Your hypothesis may be your own or you may assist in another person's research
  • Research is typically completed outside of class and not as part of your major
  • Plan on at least 50 hours to be competitive

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to participate in research.

Create your own project

  1. Develop a hypothesis for a subject of your choice
  2. Approach a professional who knows how to conduct research and ask for his or her help as a mentor
  3. Work with the professional to complete the research following sound scientific principles

Help a professor with his or her own project

  1. Approach a professor to see if he or she is participating in research
  2. If YES, ask if you might be able to participate/assisa.
    1. Follow the professor's expectations to complete the research
  3. If NO, ask if he or she knows 2-3 people that might be able to help
    1. Use that reference to approach the referral
    2. Repeat steps until you find a professor who will accept your assistance

Find a professional (healthcare professionals, research organizations, other universities, etc.) to help with an existing project

  1. Approach a professional to see if they might accept your assistance
    Apply for a research position/internship like you would apply for a job
  2. Follow the professional's expectations to complete the research