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Thread: Undergraduate Independent Research

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    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Undergraduate Independent Research

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    Hello everyone,

    I am a rising sophomore double majoring in math and economics, and, as of last semester, I am very interested in pursuing a PhD in economics. I understand that research experience sends a strong positive signal to PhD programs (and, of course, I am interested in research!), but my college has limited student research assistant positions in the economics department. I am debating getting started on some basic independent economic research by collecting data, running some regressions, and discussing my results with a professor on a periodic basis this coming semester.

    Does this seem like a good idea? Did anyone on this forum do something similar in their undergraduate years? What advice do you have?

    In advance, thank you so much!

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    I'm also a rising sophomore, at a big research place but they don't want second years running around assisting official researches. So on my spare time I build models predicting premier league statistics.

    I can't imagine it would hurt.

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    Look into NCUR. It is the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and being accepted to present (which, based on my admission last year, appears to be very easy) offers legitimacy to your research from the standpoint of admissions offices and a professor. You'll need a professor to 'mentor' you in any case, and aligning yourself with NCUR seems like a way to incentivize a professor to help you.

    Good luck.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Food4Thought's Avatar
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    I'm working on planning my own independent study. I think it is a great idea for you to do the same, especially since undergrad RA positions at your university are few and far between.

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    Does anyone know something like what Blanket said but Canadian? A google search has been unfruitful.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Catrina's Avatar
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    4 out of 4 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    What those of you who want to do independent undergraduate research should do is the following:

    1. Come up with a good topic. That requires doing a partial lit review to make sure that your topic is actually new, interesting, and feasible for you to do based on your skillset.

    2. Approach a professor and ask if you can do an independent study with him or her. That not only signals legitimacy, it makes the research count for credit.

    I very highly recommend doing this. I cannot emphasize enough how much I benefitted from doing independent undergraduate research.
    Attending Rice University

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrina View Post
    What those of you who want to do independent undergraduate research should do is the following:

    1. Come up with a good topic. That requires doing a partial lit review to make sure that your topic is actually new, interesting, and feasible for you to do based on your skillset.

    2. Approach a professor and ask if you can do an independent study with him or her. That not only signals legitimacy, it makes the research count for credit.

    I very highly recommend doing this. I cannot emphasize enough how much I benefitted from doing independent undergraduate research.
    This.

    Also learn a programming language or two in your spare time if you already haven't. Something like R, MATLAB, GAUSS, or even the Mata language within Stata will pay dividends once you start doing your actual research.

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    Eager! asymmetrica's Avatar
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    Two things: I'm not sure what level of institution your're at, but it's great to be doing at least a bit of research on your own (even if it's bad), because that lets professors know that you're interested. Going in and talking to a professor about some specific question from that research can be an excellent signal towards an RA. Second, NCUR is very reasonable to be accepted to -- I went last year as part of a research group I was part of, and nothing special (at all). Though it might be more worth travelling if you care more about the research idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by biscuit View Post
    Does anyone know something like what Blanket said but Canadian? A google search has been unfruitful.
    We don't really have anything like it. My school had internal grants available for reasearch work, but the idea of being able to an independent study doesn't really seem to exist here. I was able to get a RA position in 2nd year by visiting the office hours of all the profs I was interested in and asking them if they had something I could work on in that field.

    Now it turns out, the field (human capital) isn't as interesting to me as I thought, but it has still been a good experience.

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    NCUR is open to any and all. Last year I saw a presenter from either Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, I can't remember. Look into it, good luck.

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