Undergraduate Self-research / Online collaboration

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
yoyobarn
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:01 am

Undergraduate Self-research / Online collaboration

Postby yoyobarn » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:48 am

Hi,

At my university, unfortunately there are few prospects for undergraduate research in math. I think the professors don't get any incentive to supervise undergraduates in research..

Is there any way or avenue for an undergraduate to go about researching on his/her own, or online collaboration with someone else? The goal is not some PhD thesis or ground-breaking research, but rather a modest work that is original and perhaps publishable.

Research in math seems to be considerably harder than other fields. For example, in other sciences, doing some sort of experiment (growing a bean/culturing yeast) and writing a report on it seems to count as legitimate research.

Please share with us, if you have any experience researching on your own/ online collaboration with another.

quinquenion
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:34 pm

Re: Undergraduate Self-research / Online collaboration

Postby quinquenion » Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:13 pm

My personal recommendation would be for you to look into summer research opportunities instead (e.g. NSF REU programs, summer UROPs). Not only will it be easier to arrange, but you'll probably get to hang out with a bunch of other motivated math undergrads as well (never underestimate how much you can learn from good peers).

As for researching on your own, I would not advise it. It's incredibly difficult for an undergrad to figure out whether a particular problem is tractable with the tools you have available. Choosing a problem is something you'll definitely want to have an advisor for, especially when you're new to the field.

I have never tried finding a collaborator purely from online contact. I suspect it is difficult to nigh impossible as an undergrad, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong. However, as someone who is currently about 3000 miles away from my master's advisor and still working on research, let me say that while it is certainly possible to collaborate from a distance, this is only really feasible if one already has a good grasp on the problem at hand.

But I'm only a lowly master's student at the moment, so take everything I've written with a grain of salt. If you can find a collaborator online, all the more power to you. Still, I'd definitely recommend finding a summer program instead if at all possible. Good luck!

yoyobarn
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:01 am

Re: Undergraduate Self-research / Online collaboration

Postby yoyobarn » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:44 am

thanks for your informative reply!

I am even more lowly undergraduate (not even in my final year)..

Your advice is really helpful. I may try to approach my professors directly during the summer break instead of waiting for them to post projects on the school intranet.




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