Mentored Research: What It Is and Why It’s Great

Agnes Scott College is proud to say that 68% of its students are involved in mentored research at some point during their college career. However, what does this mean? What is mentored research? Why should you pursue it? In this post, all of your burning questions will be addressed!

What is mentored research?

Mentored research provides students with the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a professor in that field. Ultimately, the goal is for the student to develop their own research project jointly with a professor and go through each step of conducting research, from submitting to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to collecting and analyzing their own data.

What does mentored research look like at Agnes Scott College?

Because Agnes Scott does not have graduate teaching assistants, our students do not need to compete for research opportunities with those with more advanced degrees. In other words, students can begin their research experience relatively early on in their college career and pursue it for much longer than an undergraduate student at a larger school. Because of Agnes Scott’s small size, one-to-one mentored research is not uncommon. Furthermore, many Scotties will end up published on a paper or poster, and will have the opportunity to present at a major conference.

Why is mentored research important?

Mentored research is very important for students who are interested in pursuing graduate school and/or careers in research. Yaffe, Bender, and Sechrest (2014) investigated the differences between students with undergraduate research experience and those without. They found that students with undergraduate research experience were more likely to be accepted into and pursue graduate degrees, with the greatest percentage of those pursuing and receiving PhDs. In other words, mentored research experience looks great on a CV when applying for grad school, especially when you take into consideration the majority of undergraduate students do not have research experience.

Which majors/minors have mentored research?

All of them! Mentored research is not limited by field of study. You can do research with a professor in any subject, such as Biology, History, Psychology, Women’s Studies, and even Spanish.

I have no research experience and how to go about it. Can I still do mentored research?

Yes! That is the point of mentored research. Most undergraduate students have never conducted proper research prior to college, so mentored research with a professor will guide you through every step of conducting your own research. The professor will be there to help you come up with your research proposal, collect and analyze data, and write a paper or poster.

How do I get involved with mentored research at Agnes Scott?

You should approach a professor with your research idea and see if they would be willing to mentor you. Speak to different professors in your major/minor, as they might know of professors who are interested in working with a student. Sometimes, professors have labs that you can apply to. A mentored research lab often involves anywhere from 2 to 10 students, plus the professor, with weekly meetings to workshop every aspect of individual research proposals together.

What are the outcomes of mentored research?

Yaffe, Bender, and Sechrest also found that students who had undergraduate research experience were more satisfied with their college experience and more satisfied with their academics. At Agnes Scott College, it is not uncommon that students with research experience will go on to present at major conferences and have their name attached to a published paper or poster. Furthermore, on a personal level, you can form a strong mentoring relationship with a professor, who will likely be able to write you recommendations for graduate school.



Yaffe, K., Bender, C., & Sechrest, L. (2014). How does undergraduate research experience impact career trajectories and level of career satisfaction: A comparative survey. Journal of College Science Teaching44, 25-33. DOI: 10.2505/4/jcst14_044_01_25



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