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  • Lily Sun

Starting Research from scratch


A Researcher works in the laboratory
A Researcher works in the laboratory

Starting a research project can be complicated - especially in high school. Sometimes, it may seem like high school research is all about connections, but there are plenty of other ways to start. Here, I will share some tips on how you can start and get involved.


  1. How can I start an independent research project?

One way to start is to find a science teacher at your school and ask them to be your mentor. Although it isn’t required, they are certainly helpful in showing you the process, especially if you are new to research. They are great guides even if they can’t answer all of your questions. However, if you can’t find a mentor, I would recommend reading research papers (either from past science fairs or labs) to get a feel of what is going on in your field.


  1. Summer research programs

One of the best ways to achieve all of your research goals is to do a summer research program. There are two types of these - free and paid programs. Free programs are more prestigious and harder to get accepted into, while paid programs are open to more students. They are both great options if you want to go further into your research. Additionally, there are some summer programs that are so well-known that they will probably help your college application. A few of these programs include the Research Science Institute (RSI), the Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS), and the Clark Scholar Program, but there are many more and you can get a lot of value out of various other research programs.


  1. Conducting the experiment

Things can get really tricky when it comes time to begin experimenting. After all, most experiments simply cannot be conducted anywhere. If you can, you should try cold emailing professors to get the opportunity to work in a lab. However, if that doesn’t work out, you should try getting data online. Secondary research can be extremely useful when you are at a dead end. Apps like YouTube and Google Scholar are great when you’re trying to navigate the process.


  1. Cold emailing and connecting with professors

Firstly, before you start emailing professors, make sure you have done some research on their work. You want to show that you fit in their lab and with their work. Think of this emailing process as an application. Demonstrate that you are self-driven and have an understanding in the field. After all, you are trying to show a connection between your research idea with the professor’s work. This is a great opportunity for lab work, conducting experiments, and possibly networking as well, so this is very important!


Remember, this isn’t the ‘one way’ to do research, and there are other ways to achieve success in your field. This experience can be very rewarding, and I hope these tips give you an idea of how to begin your own research journey!


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