One of the fundamental principles of graduate school is to produce educated researchers who have strong, reliable, and ethical research skills that they can use to benefit their fields in some way. Because research is so fundamental to graduate school, graduate students can improve their chances of succeeding academically and professionally by joining research groups at their universities. The following is some advice about why you will benefit from joining a research group and how you can join a research team.
Why You Should Join a Research Group
Graduate students benefit in many ways from joining research teams. Firstly, graduate students can receive financial aid through research or teaching assistantships if they obtain funded research positions. Secondly, graduate students who join a research team can gain experience and insight into their chosen fields, which will give them better foundations to choose between career options after graduate school. Thirdly, graduate students who join research groups can fortify their CVs and can gain new skills to offer future employers. Fourthly, graduate students who join research teams may have more opportunities to present and publish their work and to network with peers in their fields than will those who do not join research groups. Finally, graduate students may gain more confidence in themselves and their abilities as researchers and team members if they join research group.
How You Can Join a Research Group
To join a research team, you must first determine what research groups and positions are available within your department and which groups and positions align best with your own research interests. Next, you will need to research the faculty members running the research group to determine whom you would want to be your research advisors based on the faculty members’ experience, mentorship styles, research interests, etc. Then, you will need to meet faculty members with whom you are interested in working; you may need to schedule multiple meetings with faculty before making your final decision because, much like going to graduate school, joining a research group is a big commitment that requires significant forethought.
When you meet with faculty members, you will want to ask about what kind of research the group is doing and what expectations the group will have for you. After meeting with faculty members, you will want to talk with other students who are members of the research group and who share the same advisor(s) in whom you are interested to determine if other students like the research team and advisor(s), if the group’s and the advisor’s(s’) attitudes are aligned with yours, etc. Finally, you will have enough information to decide which group you would like to participate in and whom you would like to be your advisor. You should notify your potential research advisor and group about your interest in participating in their research, and you will complete any other steps that the group deems is necessary for you to join (each group is unique and will have its own requirements for qualification and acceptance).