Undergraduate Research and Creative Collaborations

Suggestions for Faculty on Getting Started

Learning how to include undergraduates in the research we do as faculty is not always clear or easy. Here are some specific practical suggestions from colleagues that might help us experiment and learn together.

Advice From Colleagues

Wendy Cadge, Sociology
  • Agree at the start of the semester or summer on specific deliverables and a draft timeline. Have a 30-minute meeting each week in person or by Zoom with the student or students working with you. If more than one student, meet with them all at the same time.

  • Work from a shared Box folder that includes project materials as well as the timeline and list of weekly tasks that you look at each week during your meeting. I make a list of tasks for me and one for the student in this folder each week that we check in on when we meet.

  • I rarely ask students to do literature reviews. I have them organize articles I have found, build Endnote databases and attach the PDFs of articles so I can read through quickly. When I ask them to start a literature review, I have them meet with the Social Sciences librarian and bring me what they think are the 10 best sources and then I vote to keep or reject them, explain why and show them how to work through the bibliography of articles to find other articles.

  • I used to have students transcribe interviews and don’t any more because it is cheaper, quicker and more reliable to send them to a service like rev.com

  • I do teach students how to use Atlas TI to code data with me and because I think it will help them in the future when they do their own projects.

  • I require all students to complete CITI training before they start (I pay them for their time).

  • I have students do a lot of social media and website work for the public facing dimensions of projects.

Sara Shostak, Sociology
  • Meet weekly to check in about the work, answer que and assess progress. Encourage the student to bring to weekly meetings a list of their questions/concerns, as well as bringing your own. Be clear re: deadlines and deliverables.

  • Provide a variety of tasks, ideally requiring increasing skill levels: bibliographic work, coding data, reviewing preliminary analyses, co-authoring reports and/or manuscripts

  • When they are ready/able, allow students to take the lead on defined components of the work. Within appropriate limits, support students in developing a sense of agency as researchers.

  • Compensate students for all of their time — including CITI training and travel to/from field sites.  

  • For students doing research off campus, make it clear that their safety is your highest priority.