How do I conduct research?
So I'm a freshman vying to get into the Ivy League. Research is impressive, and its something I would want to do. I don't plan on it this year, however in any upcoming years I would love to. I want to do some sort of prestigious research internship or program, but I just don't know where to start. I'd love to do research for some fancy program but I don't even know how to conduct what would ACTUALLY be considered impressive and valid research on the common app.
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So typically research falls under university/organizational conducted research and personal research. Personal research is super hard to do and hard to have it be credible. A science fair project doesn't count. So the main vehicle of research is organizational research typically said Orgs are universities.
If you have a university in your metro area whether is CSU Channel Islands or whether its UCLA look to see if it has a research program for high school students (may be restricted to juniors and up) and make sure it isn't a liberal arts school as research typically isn't conducted there. Ideally, the school would have regional name recognition so if your familiar with athletic conferences the most ideal situation would be group of 5 schools as it's easier to get a position but still has prestige.
Depending on your major you'd reach out to someone likely the department head at the university and ask for research opportunities. Its definitely a competitive process so more people are rejected than accepted in the vast majority of cases. I'd definitely wait until after covid to reach out. Just remember that you'd need to be available 3 times/week often for like 4 hours per session so its a very large time commitment. Research is a good thing to have on a resume but it may be as useful for an activity that takes less time per week or it could make or break you at Harvard because of how good it is. The "big accomplishment" for research is getting it published in a magazine the more prestigious the magazine the better and if you're named in the research that's phenomenal but that's very rare.
Hope this helps and feel free to ask questions for clarification.
If you are interested in formal research positions, consider residential summer research programs such as MIT’s Research Science Institute or Stanford’s Office of Science Outreach Programs. You might also be able to find summer programs offered to day students if you live within commuting distance of a college or research center like Princeton’s Laboratory Learning Program.
If you are not interested in or are not able to participate in a formal research assistant program, you can still find research assistant positions. The hours and expectations for these positions can vary depending on a professor's needs but the process will involve more initiative on your part than filling out an online application. The easiest way to get started is to network. Ask your parents, mentors, and teachers if they have contacts at universities or labs. Having a personal contact won’t necessarily get you a research position, but it can may get you in touch with the right person.
Furthermore, browse the department website of local colleges or research labs to identify researcher with whom you'd be interested in working with. Profs might be more open to offering remote opportunities too because of COVID-19. In your emails, address the recipient professionally with their appropriate titles, such as Professor or Doctor. State what type of project you’re looking for, specifying what research area, why you’re interested in it, and some possible research questions you’ve considered in that field. Express your eagerness to learn and your flexibility to fill whatever roles are available. Then, outline your availability including daily hours and state the time period you’re interested in working, be it summer only, part-time during the semester, or the entire school year. Attach your resume. Keep in mind that scientists are busy people and it is not uncommon for these types of emails to be ignored. If you do not hear back after two weeks, it is okay to follow-up.
You may also want to consider the AP Capstone program if your school offers it. https://blog.collegevine.com/an-introduction-to-the-ap-capstone-diploma/
You can easily find research opportunities in certain colleges but you have to pay for them. I am pretty sure you don't want that so I think MIT has a free research program called MOSTEC but I am not sure, you need to double check. If you are in New York, STEM Research Academy is a great option that even pays you. There's also the option of mass emailing professors in various nearby colleges, though you might get ignored so it's pretty much on luck if you try this. My teacher told me that if you try hard enough and show enough interest to contribute to a professor's research, they might let you join them.