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What is Research?

The definition of research provided below on the Citizen Scholar website aligns with how we approach research within Cognitive Science.

What is research?

We use this term to encompass academic research and creative inquiry, which are active experiences of discovery. Everyone who pursues research will have a unique experience. Research can include numerous types of activities including: background reading and inquiry, formulating questions, developing and using methodologies, analyzing data, creating works of art, communicating new knowledge, or otherwise contributing to a field of study. These are just a few of the more common facets of research, and depending on a number of factors, your experience may include one (or more) pieces of the research ecosystem just described.

Another important part of research are the people with whom you work. Students work under the direction of a mentor, who advise and guide them through the research or creative process. Some experiences include collaboration with peers, graduate students, staff, or members of a community. Strong researchers possess curiosity, purpose, initiative, sincerity, professionalism, and an openness to serendipity.

Intangible Benefits of Research

While you can (and should) expect to learn new material under the guidance of a mentor, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself. Your interests and direction may change, and your engagement in research can help you clarify what it is you ultimately want to pursue. Whether you end up in a research-based profession or not, you will walk away from your experience more prepared to work with others and with a better understanding of yourself than before you began.

Prepare for Research

Did you know that you can start learning research skills before finding a mentor? Visit the Learning Resources available from the UVA Library to access tutorials like finding and using published works, thinking like a scholar, and starting the research process. These are found under the Do research heading, and they are free and accessible to you anytime.