I am currently performing some purely data driven research as part of my chemistry undergraduate research course. Through this work, I have developed a keen interest in what I’m doing.

Several papers that are similar to the work I’m doing have mentioned the current lack in certain aspects within this research area. This really got me thinking about how that drawback can be addressed. This would however involve a lot of research and literature search for data mining. I really think that this would be a very interesting topic to pursue further. However, given how my research course is laid out, I should only focus on my current goals.

Regardless, I really want to propose my ideas to my PI and get them interested in this. Due to COVID, our interactions are very limited and only once a week over zoom. Therefore, I don’t feel like I have built enough rapport with them to suggest this. Additionally, given that I’m still an undergraduate, I’m not sure how seriously they would take my suggestion either.

Should I just go for it? Is there a manner in which I should approach topic? I would appreciate any suggestions.



There is a possible downside to your plan that you should also consider along with the discussion with your advisor.

Undergraduate research, unlike doctoral or professional research, is usually time limited. Therefore a long term research project may be contraindicated unless your advisor agrees that partial results are acceptable within your time frame. You might not be able to reach the point of having publishable results. If that is OK, then there are no real issues.

And if it is OK, and leaves you in a place with unfinished but potentially finighable work, then there might be an advantage to it. If the research questions are sufficiently "interesting" and your approach is "promising" then you might have a head start in graduate study, depending on the requirements of any program you enter.

But, before you commit much time and effort, have that conversation with the advisor and be sure that your short term outcomes are good enough to allow you to continue.

  • Thank you! I will make note of that. Right now, even I don’t know what the outcome will be. For me at least, it would essentially be an exercise in utilizing and developing my research skills. Should this be accepted by my PI, I can offer to volunteer after my research course is finished to further pursue this. This however is a conversation I would have to have with them. Thank you!
    – AP_98
    Feb 18 at 17:58

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