University Libraries offers spring undergraduate research workshop series

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This spring, Penn State University Libraries will present a series of free virtual seminars designed to help undergraduate students build and enhance research skills.

Co-sponsored with the Office for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring, the workshop series will offer undergraduate students throughout the commonwealth an opportunity to learn more about and improve their skills in the areas of experimental design, citation management, data management, qualitative research and more. Advance registration is required and all workshops are offered via Zoom.

Following is a schedule of seminar topics and dates:

How to Develop Effective Research Questions

Feb. 8, 4-5 p.m., Zoom link

Developing an effective research question is an important step when beginning a research project. In this workshop led by undergraduate students who are Peer Research Consultants from the Search Bar, you will learn about the different types of research questions and some helpful resources that can be used to conduct background research on a topic. While it is open to any student, this workshop is particularly useful for students who are seeking to begin a research project or paper and need the tools and information to get started. This workshop will help you become more confident in writing research questions and conducting background research on your topic.

How to Start a Literature Review

Feb. 10, 4-5 p.m., Zoom link

A common project at the start of a research project is conducting a literature review. It’s important to know what scholars have done on your research previously, and how those scholars are talking to one another. This workshop will help undergraduate students understand what a literature review, what the writing process consists of, and other best practices to get started.

Getting Started with Citation Management Tools

Feb. 17, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link 

Keeping track of all your sources and pieces of information can be daunting. There’s the question of where to put the sources and then how to cite them for that research paper or article. However, citation management tools can help solve those organization problems. Join the University Libraries to learn more about citation management tools. This workshop is designed for students at all stages of research. Participants can expect to learn about the purpose of citation management tools and will have a chance to explore two common tools, Zotero and Mendeley.

Introduction to Experimental Design

Feb. 24, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link

Good experimental design is essential for effective and efficient data collection as well as reliable research results. In this session, you will be introduced to the basic elements (e.g. unit of replication, sample size, variables, etc.) and types of experimental design as well as shown a step-by-step method to plan, design, and conduct an experiment.

Introduction to Data Management

March 3, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link

Actively managing data throughout each phase of a research project can prevent data loss or version confusion, make it easier to understand data in the future, share data publicly, or share data with collaborators, and is vital for research transparency and reproducibility. In this session, you will be exposed to numerous data management practices including data management planning, documenting and organizing your data properly, storing and backing-up data, sharing and preserving data, and safeguarding sensitive data.

Introduction to Quantitative Research

March 10, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link

What do you do after collecting data? How do you go from Excel sheets and questionnaires to data-driven insights and conclusions? How do you actually answer your research questions and hypotheses? In this session, we’ll introduce quantitative research and data analysis methods, interactively demonstrating how to go from data collection to meaningful interpretation. The focus will be on numerical data, and the intended audience is all undergraduate students involved in research (before, during, or after data collection). No prior experience in data analytics is expected.

Introduction to Qualitative Research

March 16, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link

Qualitative research methods rely on the collection of unstructured, non-numerical data such as written survey responses, interview transcripts, ethnographic field notes, or audiovisual recordings; they are broadly used in fields as varied as information system design, psychology, and cultural anthropology. This session introduces qualitative data analysis methods, their respective benefits and shortcomings, and software tools that facilitate their use in research.

Information Privilege: What is it & what does it mean for our research?

March 24, 3-4 p.m., Zoom link

What is information privilege? How does it affect me? How do I include social, ethical and economic aspects of information into my poster or research? How can I continue to access great information sources after I graduate from Penn State? If you are asking these questions, we have answers! This workshop is designed for students in all stages of the research process. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of issues related to information privilege and learn about open access resources they can use after graduation.

For more information, contact Hailley Fargo, student engagement coordinator, at, Briana Ezray, research data librarian for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), at, or Danica White, student engagement librarian at Sessions will not be recorded, however faculty interested in embedding workshops in their curriculum should contact Fargo.

Last Updated January 26, 2021