Research Guide for Students

What is Research?

Research is a process of inquiry designed to discover new information. The word research comes from the French recherche, to search closely. This process may vary from  discipline to discipline. In the sciences, research generally follows the hypothetico-deductive method to test predictions deduced from educated guesses called  hypotheses. In the humanities, research is the synthesis of knowledge to create new ideas that can be explored by others. In the fine arts, research is the creation of  new works and techniques from existing modalities. Thus the meaning of research varies across different disciplines. The one constant theme is that research is an inquiry-based activity that leads to discovery. The distinction between a student taking a traditional course and one doing research is that the former is a receptacle of knowledge and the latter is the creator of knowledge.

What is Fundamental Research?

The University of Miami is committed to an open teaching and research environment with the ability to publish results freely. Most education and research here will  fall under “Fundamental Research” as defined by US laws and regulations as basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily  published and shared broadly within the scientific community. This is distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which are ordinarily restricted for proprietary or national security reasons. Not all of the research conducted at the University will fall under Fundamental Research. In those instances, the University will need to ensure compliance with all US laws and regulations on export control prior to the start of the research. If you have any questions regarding whether your research is Fundamental Research, please contact the Director, Export Control Compliance at or 305-284-9558.

What are the types of Research?

  • Clinical Research: Deal with data, not the patients. Generate data, see correlation, turn over data set
  • Community Based Research: Getting information with questionnaires, talking to people, survey work
  • Lab Research: Work in a wet lab setting 

How Intense is the Research Commitment?

Your research commitment will vary depending on what kind of experience you are interested in. These experiences vary from being a volunteer to a student researcher for credit or a stipend. Do not accept a position if you are unsure or have doubts. There is no obligation to accept a position. Make sure that it will be a right fit so that you will follow through on your commitment to the research mentor. It takes valuable time and resources to train a new student and it is disappointing when a student changes their mind after starting their research.

What is a Research Volunteer?

The majority of positions are voluntary. A student who requests a research experience and is not seeking university credit or other compensation is known as a research volunteer. He/She is generally requesting a research experience that will enable him/her to understand better the role of research in a given field of study. The student is expected to dedicate at least six hours a week to the research experience, assisting the mentor in appropriateresearch activities. The experience is typically for one semester but can be expanded or adapted into a Student Researcher position with the agreement of the studentand mentor. The mentor will be responsible for negotiating a work schedule and providing the student with a successful research experience. No grade will be required.

What is a Student Researcher (Credit or Stipend)?

Many students can earn course credit for their research experience. Different research mentor departments have special courses listed as independent research under faculty. Before you register for a research credit course, meet with the faculty member to obtain her/his approval to enroll in the class. If you register for one of these courses you will arrange your research hours with your research mentor. The research course can count as credit towards your major. If credit is an important aspect of your participation as a student researcher you should discuss this with your advisor and faculty member. She/he will determine the requirements to obtain credit.

Some stipend sources of funding (may work for credit or pay, but not both):

  • FGLSAMP (Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) for qualifying freshmen students from the underrepresented minorities in biomedical  engineering who are interested in pursuing a PhD or MD/PHD  
  • IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) for qualifying students from the underrepresented minorities who are interested in pursuing a PhD

What is a Summer Student Researcher?

A Summer Student Researcher is someone who has accepted a position in an intensive summer research program. The student is usually a University of Miami student or may be visiting from another university, college, or high school. This student usually has career plans that involve research in his or her future. To be successful, you are expected to dedicate at least 40 hours week and you are usually paid a stipend for this effort. Programs through the Office of Undergrad Research include: HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) High School Scholar Program, Leadership Alliance SR-EIP (Summer Research Early Identification Program), and the College of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Program for Underrepresented Minorities and Women.

Do UM Students Have the Opportunity to Present Their Research?

The answer is Yes! The opportunities to present your researches are numerous. In fact, the academic grants administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research require student to write a research paper worthy of publication or make a poster presentation at a symposium.  Each spring, our office hosts the Research, Creativity and Innovation Forum (RCIF), where all UM students conducting research are invited to present their projects.  One of the primary responsibilities of your mentor is to guide you through the scholarly process of publishing and presenting your work.