For Students

Getting Started

What should I study?

You probably have a lot of different interests, and that’s great!  But now, take a critical look at your interests and ask yourself is there something that you keep thinking about?  Have you experienced a particularly engaging lecture that you continue to revisit in your head or that you talked to a friend or family member about?  Pay attention to these things as they can point you in a fruitful direction to pursue. 

Attending one of our Getting Started in Research workshops is a great first step to identifying your interests. 

Research may take on various forms, depending on the discipline; but, no matter what the subject of inquiry is, all researchers share a common goal of contributing to the generation of new knowledge.

overhead view of students studyingFine Arts & Design

Systematic inquiry in these fields may take many forms including historical analysis, site analysis, case studies, creating experimental techniques, qualitative data collection or community-based participatory research.


female student studying in zimerman libraryHumanities

Researchers in these fields often rely heavily on library and archival materials to gather information in their intellectual inquiry.  There is no one “right” answer they are searching for, but rather they are building on previous work to generate new ways of understanding a particular issue or of questioning a long-held assumption.

two female students in STEM classSTEM

This body of research generally follows a positivist framework, which states that there is a knowable reality out there that can be measured, manipulated and documented.  Methods are usually experimental and quantitative.


two students in social sciences classSocial Sciences

These disciplines may employ either (or both) quantitative and qualitative methods to answer research questions about human behavior, experiences, dynamics, etc.  Surveys would be an example of quantitative data and interviews would be an example of qualitative data collection.

When should I get started? 

Now is a great time to get started!  It is never too early to start thinking about research as an undergraduate.  We know that research can be a bit intimidating at first.  No worries!  We can help you wade in slowly, building your skills and your confidence as you go.  One great way to engage in research is to take a course in your major (or area of interest) that offers a research component.  Let your academic advisor know of your interest in research and ask for their recommendations.  Or perhaps there is a course you are currently taking that you are excited about – talk to your instructors during office hours to let them know of your interest.  Also, consider attending one of URAD’s Getting Started in Research workshops to plot your individual path to research.

I don’t know anyone who does research in my major, so maybe it isn’t for me?

Research may be more common in some majors than others, but it is found in all fields.  It is also found crossing disciplinary lines.  For instance, UNM’s Grand Challenges are problems that bring together researchers in numerous academic disciplines to tackle especially complex issues.  Regardless of your academic discipline, it is your interests that will drive your research.  

What kind of commitment is it to do research?

There are different ways to pursue research projects, including taking courses with a research focus, completing an independent study with a professor in your area of interest, applying for research programs at UNM, conducting a research project to earn Departmental Honors in your major, finding a paid research position, or volunteering on a faculty-led project.  Contact us to schedule an appointment, and we can help you decide which kind of research opportunity is best for you to pursue.