Ways to get involved with research

If you’re curious about research or your future goals include academic or applied research, consider getting involved with student research opportunities early in your degree.

At MRU, students can become involved in research in the following ways:

Research Assistants

Research Assistants (RAs) are an invaluable part of the research process. RAs can help with collecting, entering and organizing ideas, preparing reports and briefs, meeting community partners, managing project emails and more. Some RA positions are paid and some are volunteer positions. Hiring for paid positions is facilitated by MRU Human Resources and these RAs are considered ‘casual staff’ of MRU and are paid through faculty funds or research grants. A job description should be available.

No course credit is attached to this opportunity but you may be credited on published research you assisted with. Commitment varies.

Directed Readings (eg. MGMT 3399)

Directed Readings are intended to provide a more flexible approach for students who want to pursue and receive credit in areas of study which are of particular interest to them. Two Directed Reading courses can be used for graduation purposes but they must be in different disciplines. A Directed Reading cannot replicate an existing course. The objectives of the Directed Reading course(s) must be filed in the Office of the Registrar and will be made available to any institution requesting them for evaluation purposes. 

You won’t find these courses in the schedule of classes! You need to approach a professor with your request/idea, and if approved by the Chair, register directly with the Office of the Registrar, prior to the last day to add/drop courses. Work with your advisor to know where it can be used in your program.

Be prepared to work one on one with a professor for the term to produce the agreed-upon learning outcomes in your course outline. There is no specific class time commitment, but you will need to connect regularly with your professor. Depending on your involvement with published research, you may be credited.

Upon completion of the course, you will receive a letter grade. In most cases, this course will be used as an elective in your program, unless it is specified in the program curriculum.

Honours Program

The Honours program is different from the Dean’s or President's Honour roll. Students who complete an honours degree will follow a more rigorous curriculum than the regular program, usually requiring further statistics and/or research methods courses, possible senior seminar courses, and an independent study project or ‘mini-thesis’.

Students must apply to the honours program in their appropriate year of program and complete specific courses. See the honours curriculum for your program outlined in the MRU Academic Calendar, your program’s web page, or contact your advisor for more information.

The student is responsible to secure a supervisor (Professor). You may need to complete a Human Research Ethics Board Application before beginning your research project if it involves collecting data from human participants. Students may choose to submit their research for possible publication and are often required to present their research at an on-campus event.

If interested, explore if there is an Honours program offered within your credential, admissions requirements and deadlines, and required courses. This should be outlined in the MRU calendar, but you should also consult your Advisor, and there may be a blackboard site/web page with additional information. 

Often students present their research in an open forum or during student research days in spring. Keep an eye out for these opportunities to learn what other students are researching. Ask for the name of a student who completed the honours program and ask them what it’s like.

You can review past student’s work in the MRU institutional repository accessible from the library.


Advanced level coursework

Specific programs offer advanced level (4000/5000 level) courses that include opportunities to dive deeper into topics or that require research. In addition to your program’s required capstone courses, explore other optional courses offering research-related experiences. Review your program’s course offerings in the MRU Academic Calendar for courses such as Advanced Topics or Independent Projects courses (for example, PHIL 4730, BIOL 5201). As with Directed Readings, these courses are not always listed in the schedule of classes and you may need to approach your professor directly.

Where to start?

  1. Think about what you are interested in. This can be a topic from your favourite course so far or an extra-curricular area of interest.
  2. ‘Hold’ electives in your program to allow you room for possible honours/Directed Readings courses.
  3. Explore what your favourite professors are interested in and/or currently researching. Some professors discuss this in class. You can also research this yourself in the library – type their name in the Author field and see what they have published recently. Many professors also have their bio/CV on mru.ca or a link to their research web page on the course outline. Professors are in the news, too – see MRU media, external media.
  4. Be open to different opportunities to help with research (outlined above). Consult your Academic Advisor to explore and plan for room in your program for any of these options.
  5. Approach your professor a) casually (in a conversation) or b) formally (via email). Some professors rely on a student to be persistent (if you do not get a response at all) or rely on good timing, others will be clear with an immediate response and next steps.

Your professor will want to know the following: 

  • Your availability (weekly time commitment available and time to degree completion)
  • Your academic preparedness (how far along you are in your degree, GPA) 
  • Have you taken a course with this professor or how do you know them? 
  • Why are you interested in a certain topic? 
  • Why do you want to help with research? 
  • If you are interested in a specific opportunity (e.g., Directed Readings /paid Research Assistant)