What are the characteristics of the project?
- Is it a significant problem?
- Is it original?
- Does it push the envelope of science somewhere?
- Will it be of interest to others?
- Will it make a ‘good story’?
- Does it involve quantitative data analysis?
- Might you be able to publish your research?
Is it well suited for you?
- Is it personally interesting?
- You need to find the topic sufficiently interesting that your enthusiasm will not lag throughout a year long effort
- Are you qualified to do this project?
- Are you sufficiently knowledgeable on the overall topic that you will be able to fully understand the project?
- Do you have, or will you be able to learn any special skills required to carry it out?
Is it doable?
- Are there sufficient data available or that can be gathered by you within your means and timeframe?
- Do you have available the necessary facilities and ability to carry out the necessary analysis of the data?
What about your research mentor?
- A mentor is required.
- Does your mentor have an academic background? (A PhD is usually required)
- Has your mentor worked with undergraduate students before? If not – please discuss in a lot of detail what expectations you have of each other (see letter to mentors on this website).
- Will your mentor be reachable throughout the duration of the project?
If your project is part of a larger research effort…
- Do you know how your project fits into the larger effort?
- Do you know (is it clear) what you are responsible for doing, vs. what you will be getting from others?
- If there are going to be any collaborative publications, will you be able to be involved?
To answer these questions you need to carefully think through the project at an early stage, and discuss these aspects with your mentor and advisor.