- Why Should I Research?
- Identifying Interests
- Identifying a Mentor
- Resumé Building
- Applying, Emailing, Meeting
- Being a Good Research Assistant
- Grant Writing
Being an Exceptional Research Assistant
After working hard to get a foot in the door with your mentor, it is important to continue to impress them. Here are some tips for being a great research assistant:
Reliability & Scheduling
If you are going to commit to working on a research team, it is important to prove reliable to your mentor and the other researchers around you from the onset.
Be sure to establish a schedule that you will consistently work, and in doing so, be sure to only commit to hours that you are capable of providing.
Always arrive on time, and come ready to work. If you can prove that you are reliable, you will be entrusted with more and more interesting work
As a new research assistant, you are likely to learn a number of new skills from your mentor or the research assistants you work with. Whenever you learn a new skill, make sure to take notes and to practice whenever you have spare time. Be patient - your mentors are always busy - and realistically, you will not always be the first priority.
Read academic papers and hone your skills whenever you have spare time.
With your busy schedule, you may be splitting up the time that you spend working on your research throughout the week. If you are working on a task that is going to take a long time, be sure that you have prepared your schedule accordingly.
It is important to not waste the time or resources of the research team around you. Poor planning can lead to rushing, and rushing can lead to mistakes. Keep to-do lists, and send email updates whenever you can.
Having a good attitude will make you a stronger research assistant. When you are around, you want your mentor and the research team to recognize your hard work. Being positive will ensure that your presence is known.
Commit to a Summer
While doing research throughout the academic year is a great complement to schoolwork, the best time to genuinely focus on research is in the summer. If you can, commit to a full-time position working with your mentor during a summer. By doing so, you are more likely to be given a major project to take on, you will learn more skills to use throughout the academic year and you will become closer with your research team. Quality research requires a legitimate time commitment - your mentor will get to know you best over the course of a summer
Earn the Resume and the Letter
Some of your major reasons for participating in research will likely be to improve your resume and to receive a letter of recommendation. These are acceptable reasons for participating in research - all mentors know that these are essential steps for beginning your academic career. However, your mentor will only be motivated to help you advance if you are a quality research assistant.
Use these tips - and importantly, check in with your mentor frequently to see how you are doing. Caring about the quality of your work will allow for criticism and improvement. If you are hardworking and reliable, your mentor will be more than happy to help you with the next steps, and your resume and letter of recommendation will reflect your effort!
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Applying, Emailing, Meeting