It starts with an idea, a question to be answered. Once you start asking, it’s hard to stop. In making discoveries, you become the expert. The questions you have matter and the answers you uncover will change the way you see the world. Undergraduate Research is transformative. It is inclusive. It is yours to discover.
Qualities of a Researcher.
Research is just like people: no two projects are the same. They have different methods, different questions, and different endpoints. Just like no two research projects are the same, no two researchers are the same. There is no definitive list of qualities that are required to do research and no key formula to success. There are, however, factors that improve your ability to perform and grow with your research.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the qualities that can make a good researcher:
- Be curious: Research is all about asking questions and wondering why. Curiosity is the driving force that pushes all researchers to answer a question. They want to know why it hasn’t already been answered and are willing to explore their curiosity to find it.
- Be dedicated: We would be lying if we said that research was an easy process. It takes a lot of hard work and a willingness to push through tough moments when things might not go the way you expected. The best researchers push through difficult times and keep going.
- Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone: Research is a lot of unknowns; that’s why it’s research. Often, students feel like they aren’t capable enough, smart enough, or don’t know what to do when it comes to research. The secret is that all of us feel that way at some point. Being willing to step outside your comfort zone and take risks is what pushes researchers to discover new things. It is how we grow.
- Be accepting of your mistakes and learn from them: In research, things hardly ever go according to plan. Being willing to accept and learn from mistakes instead of letting them hold you back is how you progress. Every mistake you make, you find one more way how not to do something.
- Take initiative: Often, research opportunities don’t present themselves to you. Being proactive and expressing your interest, as well as exploring your passions, is a good way to signal to people you want to get started. If the right people know your desire to do research, they will help guide you towards opportunities.
- Be creative, flexible, and problem-solve: Find new ways to approach problems. Research isn’t a static process; it moves and changes with you. Sometimes, things go unexpectedly. If you find yourself stumped, approach the problem from a new angle.
- Be open-minded: The answers you end up with aren’t always what you expect them to be. Sometimes you go into research with certain ideas that don’t pan out. Be open to the truth you have found, whatever it may be, and your research will be more rewarding for it.
- Think critically: Sometimes in research, there are no clear-cut answers. Sources may not be reliable or biased, and information may be incomplete. It is important to think critically and draw your own conclusions based on facts and keep your opinion separate.
Research is not a one size fits all process, and neither are the qualities that make a researcher effective. You do not have to fit all of the above qualities of a researcher to be good at what you do. It is important that these qualities are not a checklist, they are just a starting point. You should conduct your research in a way that feels right to you.
Further Researcher Qualities:
- Top 10 qualities required to be a good researcher.
- What Makes a Good Research?
- Qualities and Skills to Help in Research.
Am I a Researcher?
Many undergraduate student researchers will tell you: when they first started, the world of research seemed intimidating. For many of us, just figuring out where to begin was a challenge. For some folks, getting involved in research will feel natural and for others, it may feel challenging. Either way, research can be a rewarding experience for any undergraduate student regardless of background, degree program, or experience.
Getting started is often the hard part. That’s why this site is curated for students, by students. In checking out the drop-down menu, you’ll see several categories. These are there to help walk you through the process of being a researcher.
You can DISCOVER what there is to learn about research, how to figure out what you might be interested in studying, and where opportunities lie for you to consider.
Not sure who to talk to? Interested in volunteering? Where do other researchers tend to gather? This site can help you find out who to CONNECT with, where to find them, and how to approach supervisors. This section may help you understand what to expect, and what might be expected of you!
Now that you’ve done some reading, we hope you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of research. To really ENGAGE with research, it’s important to know about things like research culture and research integrity, as well as how researchers can be more inclusive and contribute to diverse workspaces. As well, if you’re fully committed to getting started, you’ll likely need a proposal! This section of the site can help you with that, too.
What’s next after that? After engaging with research once or twice, you might feel ready to BECOME a Researcher. What does that look like? Well, lifelong learning has many facets, and this site can help you with a few of them. Helping you curate e-portfolios for the projects you’re proud of and the works you’ve created is a great starting point in helping you navigate your research journey. You may also be wondering about grad school, conferences, or other ways to showcase your work; we can help with that, too.
Research isn’t for everyone, but everyone should have the option to research if they so desire. The content we have created here is free to use and distribute and is not to be sold by us or anyone else. This site is here for students, by students. But did we get here all on our own? No! That’s why, throughout these pages, you’ll see a variety of citations and links to other places. Be sure to check them out too on your research journey. You never know what else you might find out!
If you want to test your knowledge and get a better understanding of Research check out our Advice and Activities!