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Other Should I research outside of my school?

  1. Nov 18, 2016 #1
    Currently I am at the University of Texas at Arlington where I am studying the physical and chemical properties of supernova remnants to figure out the state of its progenitor star. Now, I was thinking of going someplace else to research for the summer, not because I am not interested in the topic, but because most of the people who I know of (online, not in my university) went to different places to get research experience. And I was just wondering: should I do the same? Why/Why not?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2016 #2


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    There are lots of summer research programs for undergraduates, specifically intended for students at other schools. Google "REU programs" (Research Experience for Undergraduates). They even pay you a stipend. However, competition is usually rather strong and you're only a freshman. Wait another year at least.
  4. Nov 18, 2016 #3
    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I came from a small school such as yours. It's a very simple trend that has been true for several years. Those who did research at other universities got into graduate school, and those who didn't, didn't.
  5. Nov 18, 2016 #4
    Some of those research experiences can be pretty positive.

    But I tend to recommend doing a great job in a local research group for at least a year before looking for opportunities elsewhere.

    First of all, a great recommendation letter will increase your odds. Second, 8-10 week summer stints, while intensive and productive, are seldom as in depth as 9-12 month opportunities at the home institution. Third, those mentors at your home institution really get to know you the best and offer the best advice junior and senior year.
  6. Nov 21, 2016 #5
    I would love to participate in an REU, however, they are reserved for US citizens only. How do I overcome this?

    Okay, so I searched and there are a few programs (actually, just one so far) that allow international students to research during the summer (provided they attend an American institution, which I do). However, the one that I found requires me to be completing my sophomore year at the time of the application. After contacting several people, the best advice that I received was to just shoot up an email to the professor under whom I am interested to work and see what happens.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  7. Nov 21, 2016 #6
    That makes sense...though, do you think that I would be able to make myself known to them properly throughout the year and during the winter break? I mean, this summer research will not mean that I would stop doing what I was doing at my home institution. This will just be another research work that I would be involved in.
  8. Nov 22, 2016 #7
    My advice would tend to be open to remaining at your home institution over the summer and working in a research group there until you have logged enough time with that group to really be productive and earn their good favor. You can have a more productive summer in a group you have already spent several months in than in a group you are only spending the summer in. A 10 week summer period has 400 potential work hours; whereas, you might not even get that much time in from now to the end of the academic year during the semesters.

    Most departments have a culture and approach for connecting undergrads with research groups. If you haven't figured out what that is yet, I would make a two page resume, and bring copies around visiting faculty whose research has some interest for you. Even if the first few can't fit you into their groups, eventually you will run into someone who can OR someone who will point you in the right direction.

    But you should not be selfish. From the faculty end, they want students in their lab who will work produce more for the group than the effort they need to expend getting them up to speed. Eagerness to work elsewhere over the summer SAYS


    Eventually, they will not mind if you spread your wings and pursue other options, but undergrads owe a decent period of productivity to the group that gives them their first chance. 9-12 months of productivity before exploring other options is a fair balance.
  9. Nov 22, 2016 #8


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    Faculty at other institutions normally have to give priority to students at their own institutions, who are after all helping to pay their salaries and other costs via tuition fees. It's part of their job to help students at their institutions learn how to do research. REUs and similar programs for students from other institutions exist because of funding from the government (via the National Science Foundation) specifically for that purpose.
  10. Nov 22, 2016 #9

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    You've gotten a 100% scholarship to Arlington. You've posted a zillion threads trying desperately to find a way to spend your college career elsewhere. It wouldn't kill you to show a little gratitude. Maybe you should take advantage of the opportunities you have been given and not spit them back and look for others.
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