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Questions about research

  1. Aug 21, 2007 #1
    I've checked this forum and most people say that undergrad research is the most importnat factor for grad school. But whats more important quality or quantity?

    Also, people say that you can get started any time. I'm going to be transferring to a university this fall, as junior, and my advisor said that its best not to start research until next spring. Is that good advice? Isn't that REALLY late to do research? I've heard plenty of freshmen and sophmore are able to research, so i'll be WAY behind. After all, I dont know ANY of my new professors yet. She also said that GPA, NOT research, is more importnat for grad school admissions? What?????
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2007 #2


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    In my opinion, for graduate school in physics, "[undergraduate] research [experience]" is generally not a substitute for good grades in undergraduate physics coursework... although it is, so to speak, icing on the cake.
  4. Aug 21, 2007 #3
    to be honest, most undergrad research isn't going to be at grad or post-grad quality to begin with. i would jsut worry about spending enough time on the research. give it as much attention as you would a class. the more time you put in, the better your results are going to be.

    don't be silly you aren't WAY behind. compared to some people you are behind, compared to others you aren't. do what you feel you are capable of. the last thing you want is to be all gung ho and go for a big research project when you aren't even able to handle upper division courses yet. be smart about it. also spend your summers wisely, apply for REU's in the summer and start asking the faculty about possible research positions in the summer starting in March or early April.

    Stay on the ball, but be fair and realistic at the same time.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  5. Aug 21, 2007 #4
    yeah so wouldnt it be best to start as soon as possible? This fall will probably be the lightest courseload I'll take for the next 2 or 3 years, so wouldnt it be best to do research this fall? Or should I listen to my advisor and wait til spring?
  6. Aug 22, 2007 #5

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    I did my research internship right away after transfer. I went with people I had met (and liked) in my summer school class who were looking for lab interns.

    It worked out fine, but now I sometimes wish I had waited and learned more about the different projects that were going on, and worked on something I was more interested in.
  7. Aug 22, 2007 #6
    Listen to your advisor. If you are still taking low level courses, you won't be able to contribute that much to the research projects to begin with. Believe me, i know.
  8. Aug 22, 2007 #7
    Also, I think the main advantage of undergrad reearch isn't necessarily the research itself but the relationship you build with the research advisor. Any professor can write a letter of recommendation if you are in their class, but only if you do research for them will they be able to make your letter stand out as one who is capable of performing research.
  9. Aug 22, 2007 #8
    I think the others have given excellent advice. From my own experience applying to grad school, I would say that grades and GREs are much more important than research. Research is great, to be sure. But it's no substitute for having good grades.
  10. Aug 22, 2007 #9


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    Study to gain good background first, and then try some research. Research is GOOD. Trying some research can remove the fear of doing research. You are first LEARNING how to research during the first few months; later, you may do better, so don't expect to deliver the highest quality results during your first few weeks or months.

    One thing though about how people evaluate you: If you only did some research and earn only undergraduate degree, people may think that your research is less impressive than if you earned an advanced degree. That's just how some people think. They may think that research is not an important part of the undergraduate degrees but that research is expected and judged more highly in a graduate degreed person.
  11. Aug 22, 2007 #10
    very well then, I should focus more on grades than research.
  12. Aug 22, 2007 #11
    Having good grades does not mean that one will always be good at research and vice versa. I think the middle-ground between both is good.

    During a graduate school information session at my school, both of the professors that ran the session admitted that even if a student does not have a top-notch GPA, a letter of recommendation from a professor stating that although that particular student's grades were not the best, the student can really grind through some productive research will make up for SOME of the lack-of GPA.
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