Jump to content

What counts as "research experience"?


Nuya
 Share

Recommended Posts

Being an international student in the process of "polishing" my CV in order to apply for grad-school I am now wondering what does actually count as "research experience"?

Does work in a lab as a lab-assistant during undergraduate studies count as "research experience"? :blink:

Do internships done during the "holidays" in research institutes such as the Max Planck research institutes count? (duration 8 weeks and upwards)

I am just wondering because somehow my mind only connects the words "research experience" to groundbreaking new discoveries, publications, nobel prizes and so forth :D

But I still want to make sure that I know what I have and know where to put it in my application.

Please let me know what exactly is meant by research experience. :)

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your research experience would basically constitute, any form of research work that you have undertaken in a lab, either as a part of your undergraduate curriculum (e.g, bachelor's or master's thesis projects) or independent of your curriculum (e.g, the short-term projects you did during your internships). So, if you have worked on a research project, irrespective of its nature, you can include that in your CV and SoP as part of your research experience! Lol when was the last time that somebody embarked on ground breaking new discoveries or bagged a nobel prize, while still being undergrads :P? Besides, usually the research projects assigned to undergraduate students, form a part of a bigger project which is being handled by a graduate student in that particular research group. Getting a publication, is indeed really beneficial though, and if you have one, it will definitely increase the credibility of your application! 

 

Good luck :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for explaining!

Yes well that was of course a joke about the nobel prize.^^ :P  I think any undergraduate who has a nobel prize would immediately be awarded a PhD without having to do anything further :D

Knowing what I can include helps a lot, thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does work in a lab as a lab-assistant during undergraduate studies count as "research experience"? :blink:

Do internships done during the "holidays" in research institutes such as the Max Planck research institutes count? (duration 8 weeks and upwards)

I am just wondering because somehow my mind only connects the words "research experience" to groundbreaking new discoveries, publications, nobel prizes and so forth :D

Did you work on scientific problem(s) when you were a lab-assistant? Did you try to troubleshoot problems when you encounter them? Did you modify and optimize your experiment(s) to seek for the best results? Some lab assistant (or technician) doesn't do research -- they make buffers, clean glasses, placing orders, running other errands -- those, imo, do not count as research experience.

 

8-weeks summer internship is some research experience (based on the assumption that you are learning a scientific problem and try to do experiments to answer some questions related to that).

 

So no, it doesn't have to be groundbreaking discoveries or has been published. You will probably be asked why do you choose this particular program / why are you applying for a phd program / etc., while some schools also require an essay on your past research experience. Hence, your CV doesn't have to elaborate the details of your past research projects.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would put any lab work as research experience. But if all you did was clean supplies or make the buffers, I would be very honest about it. Those skills are important, but they are not the same as performing an experiment and analyzing data.

 

For the time being, I am using my C.V. as a hybrid with a resumé. Those with advanced degrees generally just list the lab that they worked in, the publications from that lab, and any side projects that were significant. For those of us with less experience, it's common to add the tasks that we performed (i.e. making buffers, gels, transplanting and monitoring specimens, copying data).

 

If it makes you feel more comfortable, you could also include a time frame to your work, by listing something like Jan.-Jun. 2013.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I think it is also important to consider what type of research skills the programs you are applying to prefer that you have.  If they want you to know the format of say a literature review and how to conduct one on your own and you worked with a professor learning those very skills then yes that would be considered.  If they want you to know how to function in a lab environment and use specific types of equipment, administer tests, and interpret that data, then yes that would also be considered.  It sounds like you do have some research training which should certainly be listed on your cv, but make sure you're tailoring future opportunities to fit the schools you're applying to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot for your thoughts!

 

Then I think i do in fact have some research experience puh, thats good to know :D

 

I do have to write a Bachelors thesis as part of my degree, i work as a teaching assistant, have a lot of lab project type of work included in my curriculum, work in a lab as an intern, and possibly will get the chance to work in a Max-Planck- institute (this time a biology lab^^) during summer. However that is contingent upon me not having lab classes during the summer "break" (we usually have mandatory lab classes during summer break... and winter break for that matter, which makes it much more difficult to get external voluntary internships, projects or anything else during those times because usually they only take people 8 weeks or longer as interns in external institutes. But if i have a 4 week lab project during that time of course i cannot take an internship that needs to be 8 weeks or longer -.-

 

I did, before i transferred from studying physics to studying biology, work in a physics lab at a max planck institute (6 month). About that one i am not sure. Max-Planck-Institute is a great name to have in a C.V. i think. But while it was in a lab and was scientific research and i did have my own projects and everything, it wasnt actually biological questions but physics. i am not really sure what to do about that and how to write about it for my biology application (It certainly was very usefull and I leanred a lot that is still important in the new lab environment!). I did use different microscopy techniques so that cant be all that useless (optical microscopy and electron scanning microscopy), used some computer programming and statistical analysis which is also usefull but most of the equippment i used was really nothing i have encountered in any biology lab.^^ But the general skills like organizing thoughts and data and experimental results and interpreting it to some degree.. well thats something thats of use in every science lab... i think i learned a lot in that lab which is still VERY usefull even after transferring to the other program.

Edited by Nuya
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 (It certainly was very usefull and I leanred a lot that is still important in the new lab environment!). I did use different microscopy techniques so that cant be all that useless (optical microscopy and electron scanning microscopy), used some computer programming and statistical analysis which is also usefull but most of the equippment i used was really nothing i have encountered in any biology lab.^^ But the general skills like organizing thoughts and data and experimental results and interpreting it to some degree.. well thats something thats of use in every science lab... i think i learned a lot in that lab which is still VERY usefull even after transferring to the other program.

 

Write exactly that in you SOP. I think its a good way to show that you like research and know what will await you in the Ph.D. programme.

Edited by GermanStudent
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Taking credits as an undergrad in "Structured Research" or "Independent Research" (especially if its a science field) are the best way to pad your CV with research experience.  Also, always always always bug your faculty about their pet projects and try to worm  your way into them, even if all your doing is sample collecting or library research.  It all counts, and it all looks good. 

If you do get the chance to take Structured/Independent Research classes, consider presenting your research at a Student Showcase or whatever version of that exists at your undergrad institution.  Your faculty advisor, or any member of your faculty, will likely be willing to help you with this.  In most cases you need a "sponsor," so that's your way in.  The professor with whom you are taking the research class will sponsor you.

 

good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

What about working full-time in a lab? I work at a prominent medical school as a research technician. I mostly run hematology/chemistry/serology samples. But I also had a hand in designing primers for new PCR services we just started offering, writing (and re-writing SOPs).

 

There's been talks of doing our own projects but nothing off the ground yet.

 

I was just wondering about this because I have some undergrad research experience but it's been a few years. And I've been working full time since graduating (and while in school full time) to try and figure out what I really want to do school-wise since deciding my original plan (vet school) is not really what I want to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about working full-time in a lab? I work at a prominent medical school as a research technician. I mostly run hematology/chemistry/serology samples. But I also had a hand in designing primers for new PCR services we just started offering, writing (and re-writing SOPs).

 

Yes, of course that counts are research experience. How relevant it is and whether you should mention it in your SOP or just keep it on your CV depends on how well you can tie it to your research interests, or whether there are things you've learned that will be relevant to your grad school work. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

Yes, of course that counts are research experience. How relevant it is and whether you should mention it in your SOP or just keep it on your CV depends on how well you can tie it to your research interests, or whether there are things you've learned that will be relevant to your grad school work. 

It isn't necessarily a strong correlation to my own interests. I basically learned how important/how badly needed a programmer/bioinformatics is needed in research. Despite the growth of the field there still doesn't seem to be too many people who can fit the bill. One of the other labs that uses our services had some comp sci guy doing some of their programming and data extrapolations but he didn't know what he was looking at so I basically explained it all to him..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you've done quite a bit of this, you can build it into your SoP  if you want to show you are a problem solver that wants to do something interdisciplinary, for example.  While this doesn't tie directly into what you see yourself doing, it's a great way to "show off" to an interdisciplinary type of program.  I dated two different guys that worked on the CS side of bioinformatics at one time or another (it worked out neither time, though haha) and each of them were in programs that really didn't integrate those two processes well.  I think you could make a point of that if you, for example, were applying to such an interdisciplinary focus.  It all depends on what you want to do with your SoP and how you frame it.

 

For research experience, I would take the advice of other hard-science types but for me, it was my senior thesis, which was all original research.  it didn't get published but it was a qualitative attempt to solve a problem that was researched by me and defended by me over the course of two years of work.  That seemed perfectly fine to put in there.  There weren't a lot of other research opportunities for people in my field apart from a thesis or capstone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.