Navigating the Research Process

Congratulations, you’ve found a research opportunity!  Now what?  On this page, you’ll find links and resources to help you navigate your next steps with your research project -- from finding funding to developing the research skills that will help you succeed in your project. 

You've found a supervisor - what next? 

Once you’ve connected with your supervisor and decided on a project, your next step is often to register or secure funding for your project. The specific requirements may vary depending on the nature of your work, but here are some of the common next steps for beginning a project:

I’m doing a project for academic credit (e.g. research-based course, directed studies, etc.)

Your academic advisor should be able to assist you with registering for the appropriate course(s). If you are working with a supervisor in a different department from your program, you may also need to verify that your supervisor is eligible to supervise your research-based course. In some cases, a co-supervisor or sponsor from your home department may also be required.  

Find your academic advisor

I’m doing a project on a volunteer basis

Please consult with your supervisor about registering your volunteer hours. Your supervisor (or their department/faculty) will need to ensure that your volunteer hours are registered with the Office of Risk Management & Insurance. You will be required to sign a waiver (if you are over age 18) or parental consent (if you are under age 18) to participate. 

Information about volunteer registration (Insurance & Risk Management)

My supervisor is paying me as a research assistant for the project

If your supervisor is paying you through their own research grants/funds, your supervisor can assist you with completing the required Human Resources (HR) paperwork. Normally, you will need to provide some personal information for HR to set up your payment. 

If you have questions about anything relating to your employment with the university, visit the Staff Service Centre for information. 

I want to apply for funding for myself or my project

There are a variety of funding/award programs that support undergraduate research. Some provide a stipend or salary directly for you as a student, while others help cover expenses related to your project. Even if your supervisor has agreed to support some or all of your project through their research grants, you may be encouraged to apply for other sources of funding. 

Additional benefits of applying for funding include learning how to write a research proposal, and, if successful, having a competitive award to add to your resume/CV. 

Apply for Funding


Planning your research project

You’ll likely work closely with your supervisor to design your research project, and your supervisor may help connect you with other resources and training that are relevant to your work.  The following resources are often helpful for students in the early stages of their research projects.

Consult with your subject librarian or research guide

The University of Alberta Library has developed research guides for various disciplines, which are a great starting point to explore the key journals, databases and other library resources relevant to your research. You can also make an appointment with a subject librarian to consult with them about search strategies and other library support for research. 

Find your subject guide or librarian

Apply for research ethics approval

If your research involves human participants or their data, human biological materials, or research with animals, your project likely requires research ethics approval. Your supervisor will normally assist you with your research ethics application; however, you should be aware of the ethics requirements for your project. Research ethics training is also available through the Research Ethics Office for students engaging in human or animal research.

Visit the Research Ethics Office website

Complete any necessary health & safety training

Many projects have specific health & safety considerations. Although your supervisor is generally responsible for providing site & task-specific safety training, students can access general safety training on a wide range of topics through Health, Safety & Environment (HSE).  If you are doing field research (broadly defined as any research taking place off-campus), the training and resources available through the Field Research Office may also be helpful for you. 


Doing your research and developing skills

If you are currently involved in an undergraduate research project, URI is here to help you make the most of the experience. We’ve listed a few resources below, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact URI! We can often help point you in the right direction.  

Attend a URI seminar
URI offers skill development seminars on a variety of research-related topics throughout the academic year. Visit our events calendar or subscribe to our e-newsletter to stay informed about upcoming seminars and workshops!
Improve your academic or writing skills

The Academic Success Centre offers advising and workshops on a variety of academic skills that are essential for undergraduate researchers, including time management, communication and academic writing.  The Centre For Writers also provides peer tutoring and writing workshops for students in all disciplines. 

Consult with a statistician

The Statistics Consulting Centre provides statistical advice and support to the research community at the U of A. Researchers may schedule a limited number of short (30 min) consulting appointments to get assistance with research-related statistical issues.

Visit the Statistics Consulting Centre website

Keep a skills inventory

Developing a skills inventory is a great way to keep track of the skills you are developing through your research, skills you want to improve, and examples of situations where you have applied your skills. Your skills inventory can be a resource for your future applications and work search, including your resume/CV, personal statements, cover letters -- and even future interviews! 

Download the Skills Inventory Worksheet or learn more about Employability Skills


Finishing your project and considering next steps

As you near the end of your project, you may be considering your next steps in your research or career development.  Here are some resources that may be helpful as you wrap up your research project. 

Recognize your mentor

The University of Alberta Award for Outstanding Mentorship in Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (URI Mentor Award for short) is a student-nominated award that recognizes those mentors that go above and beyond to help empower students to accomplish their goals and to foster the next generation of researchers. Have you had a terrific research experience? Consider nominating them for the URI Mentor Award!

Nominate your Mentor

Share your research

Looking for a presentation or publication opportunity? Need help designing a research poster or preparing for an upcoming presentation?  URI offers a variety of supports for students wishing to share their research. URI also hosts the annual Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (FURCA), as well as an undergraduate journal, Spectrum.

Visit URI's Share your Research page

Explore your career options, find a job, or prepare for your work search

The Career Centre is your source for career and employment expertise at UAlberta! The Career Centre offers a wide range of programs and services to support your career management. Whether you’re exploring what you can do with your degree, looking for a job, or looking for help with your resume/CV, applications, or interview skills, the Career Centre can help!  

Visit the Career Centre website

Explore graduate programs

Many students begin their undergraduate research with a goal of pursuing graduate studies. Others develop an interest in graduate studies as a result of their undergraduate research experience. Either way, you’ll likely want to explore your options early. If you’re wondering if grad school is right for you, the following resources may help:

Turn your research into a business venture

eHUB is the University of Alberta’s entrepreneurship centre. eHUB supports entrepreneurship initiatives and clubs, and offers resources, networking opportunities, and mentorship to help transform early-stage ideas into projects, initiatives and ventures.

Visit the eHUB website