For Mentors: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why might I want to involve undergraduates in my research work?

Because this is a key question for so many potential mentors, we’ve prepared a brief summary outlining the primary ways in which this will benefit you. You’ll find that summary here.

2. How much time is involved in mentoring a student?

TThere isn’t a simple answer to this question. It depends, to a very great extent, on the nature of your project and on the type of commitment you are able to make to mentoring as a process. For example, some projects require that student researchers have (or learn) a specific set of skills. Extensive training, if needed, will require a greater investment of start-up time on your part (or, if applicable, on the part of another member of your research team). In spite of this, many mentors will choose to work with a talented and enthusiastic student who needs some training, rather than with a student who does not have those qualities but does have the needed skill set.

If you have not yet done so, take a moment to read through the summary of the potential benefits to be gained from mentoring cited in question #1 above. This should help you in deciding whether or not—given your particular project, and your own professional and personal circumstances—the benefits of mentoring will outweigh the costs of the time and effort that could be involved.

3. How do I list a project on your website?

We have just launched an undergraduate research and creativity activity (UR&CA) database to help students find out about opportunities to work with you. Enter information about your research project(s) here.

4. How do I hire a student to work with me?

The details of the “hiring” process are up to you and your department. When you enter a project in the UR&CA database, you will be prompted to specify the terms of the hire, such as whether your students will be paid, given course credit, or work as volunteers. You also can indicate whether applicants should contact you directly and, if so, what information you would like them to provide. Or, you can note that they should file a formal application (provided by the database through the student interface).

5. How are my mentoring activities acknowledged by campus administration?

The Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs now includes an option for listing your undergraduate mentoring activities on your Faculty Annual Report each year.

Also, the campus recently established the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, which has both a student and a mentor component. The Award is presented at the Honors Convocation each spring.

6. I’m interested in becoming a mentor, but right now I don’t have a project in which it would be appropriate to involve students. Is there anything I can do in the meantime?

Send us an email at urca@indiana.edu including your preferred contact information and some indication of the general areas in which you would like to mentor undergraduates. We will be maintaining a list of mentors-in-waiting to feature on our website from time to time, and to use in responding to any inquiries we receive from students.

Also, are you interested in helping us work with students who just have general questions about the whole process of engaging in undergraduate research and creative activity? If so, please do let us know that as well! We would like to provide interested students with as many enthusiastic and supportive faculty contacts as possible as they try to find their own paths through the diverse curricular landscape of IU Bloomington.