One way to get the most out of your university education is to get involved in research. In addition to the actual research project, you may also have to get funding, write and publish your research.
Funding is usually in the form of a grant, which is money that is given to you for research purposes and does not have to be returned. But applying for grants requires advanced preparation.
The application process for each research grant differs and is usually explained in detail on the grant website. But there are some common steps that you will need to take before applying for grants:
1. Find a good research topic
Spend some time thinking about your research topic. Look for a theme or subject area that you are passionate about and read through U of T Library resources for tips on finding a research topic. Think of topics that relate to your degree. If you are interested in a broad theme, try to narrow it down into one of the following directions.
- Chronology (i.e.dates, time periods or time spans)
- Person, population or group (e.g ethnic, social, political, religious, gender, age, etc..)
- Event based
- Case based
- Political perspective
- Theoretical perspective (broad theories, e.g. feminist, Marxist; narrower theories on a specific topic, e.g. Goffman's theory of impression management)
- Movement (literary, artistic, political, philosophical)
- Specific instance
- Aspects (e.g. sonnet => symbolism; homelessness => policy)
2. Find a research supervisor
If you have a faculty member you’d like to work with, ask them if they would be willing to supervise your research project. You can also ask your department to connect you with faculty members who can supervise your research. And don’t forget, faculty members can get busy so make sure to contact them early and then touch base as needed.
3. Write a research proposal
A good research proposal will sufficiently explain:
- The rationale for the research project
- The research questions
- The research hypothesis
- Breakdown of how the funding will be distributed
It is a good idea to show your research proposal to your research supervisor for feedback.
4. Improve your writing
As with any piece of academic writing, your grant application should be clear, concise and free of any errors. The Writing Centre in your college and advisors in the Academic Success Centre will be able to help you write better. They may even provide feedback on your research proposal.
5. Read the criteria and requirements
Each grant application is different. Some will require a letter from your supervisor while others will need your transcript. Read the criteria and application requirements before you apply and give yourself extra time to collect the required documents.
Below are some grants available to students in Arts & Science and how you can apply to them:
Undergraduate Research Fund
The Undergraduate Research Fund is open to all Arts & Science students in good academic standing. The fund supports student-led research including independent research and research essays provided the research is related to your degree. This fund has two competitions each year and applications are available on the Arts & Science Scholarships page.
Undergraduate Student Research Award
These awards are sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and they are awarded to research projects related to the natural sciences or engineering. The application for these awards is available online and requires you, your supervisor and your department to submit documentation.
University of Toronto Excellence Awards
The University of Toronto Excellence Awards are available to undergraduate students who want to conduct research in the summer. To apply, contact the Office of the Dean. You will need a research supervisor before you apply for these awards as both you and your supervisor will have to fill out the application form.
Ontario Centres of Excellence
The Ontario Centres of Excellence have different learning opportunities available to students. These are not always research opportunities but they do give students a chance to apply their knowledge to real world problems. Visit the website for applications and criteria for the Centres of Excellence.
Collaborative Research and Training Experience
The Collaborative Research and Training Experience program is available to all students in Canada for research and collaboration projects. Through this program, students can also access mentorship and training in different areas. The application includes a letter of intent in addition to the application forms available online.
The U of T Libraries offer an award for research that undergraduate students have already done. This prize provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their information-seeking experience, showcase their research beyond the classroom, and promote scholarship excellence at the undergraduate level at University of Toronto.