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Paid vs. Credit Research

  1. Apr 8, 2012 #1
    Is there any downside to doing academic research for pay vs. school credit as an undergrad? Say I have the option of either, if I choose to be paid will I still be able to ask my supervisor/mentor for a LOR even though I didn't take a "class" (research credit=course credit) with him?

    I don't necessarily see the benefit of actually having to PAY for course credit in tuition for reserach rather than the $15/hr as a paid research assistant at this lab. Anybody have any experience with this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2012 #2


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    Absolutely you can still get a LOR. I don't really see the point of doing it for credit either, but I guess the idea is that if you spend a very significant amount of time doing research, you can take fewer classes and still be considered a full time student if you do it for credit. Also I guess it can help if you need a certain number of credits to graduate and doing research will move you appreciably closer to that goal.
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #3


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    Some programs are set up so that in order to complete the program you have to have done some kind of research project. In others it's optional. But it's important to provide students with this kind of opportunity.

    Whether you are doing research as a part of a manditory or optional course, by volunteering, or through a paid position, makes little difference with respect to reference letters. In the letter, the professor will usually explain in what context he or she knows you.

    Generally speaking, when you are taking a course you are entitled to a certain amount of mentorship, guidance and instruction. You are entitled to assessmet and feedback so that you get something out of the experience. In comparison, when you agree to work as a research assistant, you're entitled to your wage, but that's generally about it. You could end up spending your entire summer reducing data that you don't understand.
  5. Apr 8, 2012 #4
    That is more or less what I'm afraid of. Though I have trust in this professor, we have already spoken about things we will go over this summer and it sounds like I will work closely with him as it's a small-ish project.
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