Research with professors

  • Thread starter Buri
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I'm a pure mathematics student (undergraduate) and wondering what does assisting a professor in his research usually involve? And how would you get a position (unpaid/paid)?

Thanks for answering!

EDIT: Another question, I've always heard that graduate schools usually prefer research over grades, but how would you go about doing research on your own? Seems almost unrealistic to me since finishing a BSc in mathematics probably doesn't provide much for research. I guess you must do a bit more mathematics before actually being capable of doing research. Is there actually things to research merely as an undergraduate to show when applying to graduate schools?
 
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Choppy
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Assisting with research can take different forms. My experience isn't specific to mathematics, but to get an idea, you might want to check out the abstracts from an undergraduate conference if you can find them.

There are formal programs for these kinds of things. To find out about them you can check with your department. Informally, the best approach is to start by asking your professors. Tell them you're interested in gaining some research experience and ask if they know of anyone who has a project for an undergrad.

I think you have a slight misconception about the relative importance of research. Most graduate admissions committees will follow some sort of ranking system, and while research experience is certainly factored in and will definately bolster your rank, grades still tend to be the number one factor, because not all potential students will have had equivalent research experiences (if any at all).

Usually you should try to have a mentor for any research you do at the undergraduate level. That's not so say you shouldn't investigate ideas on your own, but having a mentor will help you identify areas where you can be productive, help you find key references, explain context in a field, and ultimately be able to serve as a reference in the event you don't have a publication from the work after a single summer.
 

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