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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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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