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Getting Started

Three important questions will help you plan your research at DePauw and beyond.

  • Consider what topics interest you, even if they are outside your major. Some of the most interesting research is conducted at the intersection of multiple disciplines. Look to news stories, topics that fascinated you in your classes, and departmental websites for ideas.
  • If you are unsure about how your interests might translate into specific research questions or projects, try speaking with an adviser or another faculty member. Not only will they be familiar with what's happening in the field, but also with similar lines of research being conducted at DePauw.
  • Visit departmental research websites (you can find links to a few on the left sidebar) and read the many research posters displayed throughout the academic departments to see what projects have been done recently. Many of these projects are ongoing, and spots become vacant as project members graduate.
  • Attend guest lectures and research presentations on campus. A wide variety of these events are held each semester at the university and departmental level. You can find out about them by checking the university calendar and departmental websites, or if you have already declared a major, you may also receive e-mail notices about departmental speakers.

  • Browse faculty member webpages to get an idea of what their main areas of interest are. You will often find a list of publications and news stories that will help you understand their work.
  • Contact potential faculty members by e-mail or during office hours to discuss your project or working with them on an ongoing project. For your initial contact, make sure to be clear about your inquiry and also respectful of the faculty member’s time.
  • Remember that you may have to learn specific skills to work in a particular domain, so be willing and ready to apply yourself to some additional training.
  • Most importantly, plan ahead.  Because of the close mentor-mentee relationship between faculty members and students researchers, most faculty members only work with a few students at a time. Commitments are usually made several months in advance of the start of a semester or summer.
  • Finally, be patient!  You may have to speak with a number of faculty members to find the right fit for your choice of research topic.

  • Investigate programs through other institutions for summer research since such opportunities can enrich your knowledge and help you decide what your post-graduate plans will be.
  • Off-campus programs often have early deadlines. Summer program deadlines are usually no later than the prior February, and planning to combine research with a semester abroad usually starts a year in advance.
  • Our Funding and Opportunities  pages provide a few suggestions for external research, but you'll find many more by visiting your department's website or by speaking with your adviser.