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How to address lack of undergrad research


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I'm applying for a MFA in design.  Does anyone have tips on how to address a lack of formal research experience as an undergrad? I took a liberal arts program, so there weren't necessarily labs or studios to work with professors.  I've written some undergrad papers that are directly related to my topic that I'm applying to in grad school, but worry that that lack of formal research in a lab or detailed with a professor can affect my candidancy, and don't have a way to really include those papers in my application.  I've mentioned one of them in my Statement of Purpose, but probably silly to include it in my porfolio.  I've written reports as a professional in my field for clients, but don't know of a way to include those in a portfolio to demonstrate that I've synthesized my 'research' (i.e. user research) and created analysis out of it - just not in an academic setting.  The program I'm applying to seems to do a mix - lots of research, but students are evaluated on shorter projects, and the written thesis is not a lengthy one.


Any ideas? How did you address the lack of research as an undergrad? I hear that you're not supposed to address gaps, but other people also say you need to mention what you'll do for an area where you haven't done something.

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