Exploring research and possible mentors

Stage 2 is designed to help you think about the steps involved in developing a thesis topic and selecting a mentor. In this stage you begin to explore possible thesis topics and connect with potential thesis mentors. You are likely to consider:

  • What am I truly curious about?
  • What qualities should I seek in a thesis mentor?
  • What is the best project for me considering my career and life goals?
  • What projects have other students done successfully?

Resources for exploring topics and connecting with faculty

  • HC Faculty Research Showcase: Most colleges will have a research showcase once per year. Student-faculty schedule details and registration information
  • Past HC Student & Faculty Mixer Database: Past HC student-faculty mixer slides, from 2013 to present, are a valuable resource to learn about research at OSU, faculty research interests, and faculty contact information.
  • Potential HC Research Opportunities: This is a list of information shared with the Honors College from faculty about their research area or thesis projects they have mentored. 
  • URSA: The Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts (URSA) helps students get connected with scholarly projects mentored by faculty in all disciplines at OSU. For more, check out URSA’s website for all available resources, drop-in hours, and programming.
  • ScholarsArchive: You can access the digital copies of completed HC theses on file in the ScholarsArchive.  Current HC students can also access additional past theses resources on the Honors College Academic Advising Canvas page.
  • Additional Resources for Current HC Students: A number of additional exploration resources are available to current HC students on Honors College Academic Advising Canvas page.  If you are a current student and are unable to access this page please contact [email protected].

Stage 2 requires that you complete four tasks, outlined below. These tasks lay the groundwork for the thesis. You are encouraged to complete Stage 2 early in your HC career but at least within the first six terms of enrolling in the HC. You will receive occasional reminders to complete Stage 2 until you have done so. If you have questions, please contact your HC academic advisor.

If your plan has changed and you need to update your Thesis Plan, see the Thesis Plan update.

Option 1

Register for HC 408 Stage 2: Explore & Build


Option 2

Complete the tasks in Stage 2: Explore & Build tasks independently.

Task 1: Review a completed thesis

Choose a completed HC thesis through the noted resources. Read carefully the introduction and conclusion/results sections, and scan the rest of the thesis. Then report on the thesis you reviewed.


Task 2: Attend a Faculty Research Showcase

The Faculty Research Showcases are an excellent way to connect with faculty members, learn more about their research, and potentially get involved in projects that could be the basis of an HC thesis. Even if you don’t yet feel ready to begin research or are not sure about your interests, attending these events help you to explore opportunities and make connections. 

Fall 2022: 

  • TBD

RSVP for a Research Showcase 

Past HC student-faculty mixer and showcase slides 

Task 3: Interview a thesis mentor-eligible faculty member

This task will help support you in the process of choosing a mentor and help you to think about different mentoring styles. Finding a mentor whose expectations and style match your needs is one of the most important factors in a positive and successful thesis experience, and the interview is an opportunity to begin thinking about how a mentor can best support your thesis work. Assistant professors, associate professors, professors, and senior instructors (I or II) at OSU are eligible to be thesis mentors. Faculty not in any of these positions must be approved by petition to the HC. For other tips, see our Finding a Mentor page.

To set up an interview, contact the faculty member by email to request a 30-minute meeting. Express your interest in the potential mentor’s research. Remember when you approach potential mentors for interviews, you are only asking for a meeting. Neither of you should feel obligated to commit to a mentoring arrangement just yet. In fact, you are encouraged to repeat the interview process with several faculty members to ensure a good match.

Keep in mind how busy these professionals are. Be friendly, flexible, appreciative in all communications, and always respectful of their time constraints. The general protocol is to wait one week for a response to your email, then send a follow up email; if email is unsuccessful, attempt to make phone contact, then move on to other faculty members.


Task 4: Complete online ethics training

To provide you with basic ethics training you must complete CITI training, regardless of if you plan to work with human or animals subjects. The training will help you understand some basic ethics principles and make you more aware of the situation if your future project does involve human or animal subjects.

Research institutions like OSU have oversight committees on campus to maintain vigilance over all research activity.  In most cases, this includes ethics training prior to participating in research. At Oregon State that office is the Institutional Research Board or (IRB). This general training is helpful and required but does not give you IRB approval for future projects.  Later, when you have a mentor and are developing a project, you and your mentor should discuss if your projects requires further training or IRB applications.

To complete the training:

  1. Find a block of time in your schedule to complete it. It is estimated to take approximately 3 hours, but can be completed in several sessions.
  2. Go to the Institutional Review Board's training website and click on "Required training in the Ethical Use of Humans in Research".
  3. On the CITI page, click on “register” to create an account. Affiliate your account with OSU so that your certificate of completion can be automatically forwarded to the appropriate office.
  4. Enter your personal information and create a username and password.
  5. Select 'Add a Course or Update Learner Group.'
  6. Review the Human Subjects Protection curriculum options selecting either Social/Behavioral Research Investigators and Key Personnel or Biomedical Resources.
  7. Complete curriculum as outlined.
  8. Create a PDF of your certificate of completion and upload it: IRB certificate collection