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Salisbury University BW
A Maryland University of National Distinction
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Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity
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  • Students on steps of Holloway Hall
  • Volunteer students in green shirts on Red Square
  • Professor explaining research poster to students
  • Group photo of students and faculty outside at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research
  • Student presenting research at the SU Annual Student Research Conference (SUSRC)
  • Students talking at the SU Annual Student Research Conference

Welcome to OURCA

Undergraduate Research at SU

Mission: OURCA’s mission is to promote student research, scholarship, and creative activities through faculty mentorships.

The undergraduate experience at Salisbury University incorporates and privileges research in every facet of the student academic experience, from every major, and at every school from art to music to biology, chemistry, physics, health and exercise sciences, or social work. Research employing all modes of inquiry ranging from the experiential to the artistic (e.g., performing arts, drawing) to the applied (e.g., social work, educational) or the qualitative (e.g., ethnographic) or quantitative (e.g., experimental) are cultivated and supported.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (OURCA) is here to provide help, guidance, resources, and networking to help you at every stage of this process. Whether you are an incoming freshman still deciding how to navigate the university and get started with research, or whether you are considering what (and how) to research, or whether you are looking for funds and opportunities to be able to support your conference presentation, or whether you are looking for a mentor, and just some guidance on how to come up with an idea and approach a professor in your department, OURCA is your resource for all matters related to research.

Additionally, several helpful workshops covering the basics of how to get started, how to find a mentor, how to obtain compliance, and how to get funding for research presentations are being planned. Keep an eye on the calendar on OURCA's home page and register for a workshop.

Student research is mentored in a range of formats including informal and formal student collaborations with faculty, either on a one-on-one basis or through class projects, independent research, senior theses, or via faculty sponsorship through grant-funded research. The range of topics covered by student researchers at SU can be browsed under the Student Research at SU section of OURCA's website.

Numerous formal resources also exist at SU to help further the spirit of inquiry in different directions. For example, Dr. Kristin Walton at the Nationally Competitive Scholarships Office works on a one-on-one basis with interested students to help them identify, apply for, and often, successfully obtain competitive and prestigious scholarship awards. The Honors College supports and encourages undergraduate student research from the first semester through graduation, with the presentation of the final thesis. Contact the Dean, Dr. Jim Buss, to learn more.

Along with resources, at OURCA's office (in person) or on OURCA's website (online) you can learn more about and identify from several internal grant opportunities including the university-wide USARA and several school-wide grants that provide support to undergraduate students to conduct research and present research at national conferences.

Why Research?

Defining Research...

Research can be broadly defined as a systematic engagement in an area of your interest guided by formal and informal principles of research design, conceptualization and articulation of a research question, means of data gathering, analysis and interpretation, and the presentation of findings or results in ways that highlight their significance to the discipline, society, or the individual.

How does Research Help Undergraduates?

  • Research experiences during your undergraduate years can help you decide on whether graduate school is for you, and if so, which graduate school to apply to.
  • Undergraduate research experiences can help with improved performance in graduate school.
  • Undergraduate research experiences are a great way to get to know professors in your major and for your professors to get to know you. This can help in myriad ways, even if you don't decide to go to graduate school.

As an Undergraduate Student

  • Research deepens your engagement with your major, thus making students critical, engaged scientists from passive consumers of knowledge. Students who have engaged with the research process are more confident and successful in evaluating evidence and drawing conclusions in other areas of their lives.
  • Through learning the tools for systematic application of research methodologies and a hypothesis-driven or experiential mode of inquiry, students develop their independent critical thinking skills as well as oral and written communication skills.
  • Research experiences can help open your eyes to the world of discovery and scientific process–both factors that will stand you in good stead in whichever endeavor you choose to undertake.

SURE Results on Benefits of Undergraduate Research:

Responses to the Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) from undergraduate students who completed a mentored research program reveal they benefitted by:

  • understanding the research process
  • understanding how the scientific process works
  • learning lab techniques
  • learning how to interpret results
  • learning how to analyze data
  • learning how to integrate theory and practice.

The SURE survey also demonstrated benefits outside the university setting. Students who did research reported:

  • greater tolerance for obstacles
  • greater ability to work independently
  • greater understanding of how knowledge is constructed
  • greater self-confidence
  • greater appreciation of the fact that assertions require supporting evidence
  • greater clarification of a career path.
  • greater success in school and ability to overcome challenges.

How Does Research Help Achieve These Benefits?

  • Ethical study and application of the scientific process develops critical thinking and independence necessary for leadership and scholarship.
  • Skills in critical thinking and communication allow students to emerge as leaders in their chosen professions upon graduation.

Engaging in Research

Engagement in research starts from day one of your Salisbury academic experience. There are several stages to engaging in research, irrespective of your academic discipline or ranking.

OURCA and Your Research

Part of OURCA's mission is to help undergraduate students at SU successfully get guidance to reach each step of the research process and to be connected to the resources available at SU to complete each step of their research journey.

Need help or have questions about this page? Please visit our Ask a Question or Report a Problem page.
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