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A) Doing research "Off the books"? b) Returning Researcher?

  1. Aug 26, 2015 #1
    A. Would it be suboptimal to do research with a professor without being registered for "research" or "independent studies"?
    B. Furthermore, would it look bad if I took a "returning researcher" position such that I was asked to come back after my summer internship on weekends (twice a month) to do research (mainly data analysis) and calibrate machines as a volunteer in HEP?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2015 #2


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    Whether it is suboptimal or not depends on what other choices you have. And whether you can in fact get something useful out of it.

    How it will look is pretty much invisible. Essentially you are volunteering to hang around the lab 4 days a month. This isn't really much more than a tour. There is a clear reason nobody wants to pay you for this. It isn't very valuable. In fact, the usual situation of a technician doing the job and also having to hand-hold you would probably mean it is a net negative to the lab.

    The only reasons to do unpaid work is if you think it will get you recognition of some kind, or teach you something you could not learn as easily in some other way. Do you think either of these applies?
  4. Aug 26, 2015 #3
    You are an undergrad, right? If so, I think most undergrads do research without "registering" for it.
  5. Aug 26, 2015 #4
    How do grad programs vet you in this regard? That is, without knowing whether you conducted real research? Is it all about getting a LOR?
  6. Aug 26, 2015 #5


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  7. Aug 26, 2015 #6
    If it puts you in a situation where a professor can say positive things about your ability to do research in a LoR, then I'd say it's a good idea. Even if there's no official record of it, your professor can always mention it in his letter.
  8. Aug 26, 2015 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Do you actually have an arrangement with the professor to do this? I see a lot of problems - there is the issue of minimum wage laws which the university will enforce. There is the fact that, as mentioned, 4 days a month is more a tourist than anything else. There is the need to have someone come in on a weekend - not to do their own work, but to supervise you.

    One other thing to be aware of.is that given your track record so far, a mediocre letter of recommendation will be very bad. "He came in on a couple of weekends and puttered around the lab" will not help you at all. You will need to do something specific and identifiable.
  9. Aug 26, 2015 #8
    Doing "real" research is independent of whether or not you get paid. In fact, I've accomplished much more in the 4 years I've done undergrad research (unpaid) than in the summers when I did it for pay, just because you are more free to explore different options without the pressure to have something to show for what you've done.
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