I am interested in cold-emailing some professors to ask whether they would be willing to offer a research position to me. However, I am not sure who exactly to email. I have an idea of the sub-fields of economics that I am interested in, and I've tried reading some of the journals in those subfields. However, as an undergraduate, most research methodologies don't make much sense to me (isn't this a universal undergraduate experience?). To be clear, it's not that I don't understand the research at all. Sometimes the choice of a particular statistical model used in a paper makes perfect sense, but at other times, the statistics involved is way too advanced.
I also do not attend a research university, so I cannot email any professors at my own institution (I am pretty sure no professors in the economics department at my university are taking on mentees; I've tried asking!)
So, how should I approach this process? Where should I begin this search? Should I target professors in my home state or who are otherwise geographically close? Should I target those who are tenured, old, and established? Should I target younger professors? What about those at lesser-known universities? My observation was there that there usually are a couple of professors at smaller universities who do some really interesting work and are also somewhat well known in the field. Should I target exclusively these professors? Should I look at recent articles from a field journal and just start emailing authors of those articles that I can understand, to a certain degree, and whose topics I am interested in? And what exactly should I write my email to the professor, given that the research they published was most likely beyond my understanding?
P.S. If this is relevant, the discipline is economics.