Extracurricular activities are a great way to gain more skills and experiences you may not learn in the classroom. They also allow you to pursue your interests in activities like music, sports, visual arts, technology, and social service.
It is important for high school students to know that various academic activities can also be considered extracurricular or co-curricular activities. Perhaps you’re fascinated by the history of civil disobedience or the effect of climate change on rising sea levels and want to conduct your own research project. You can certainly pursue this for fun!
If you’re expanding your knowledge of a subject and you want to find an answer to something you care about, you might consider embarking on an independent research project.
While the research process is daunting, Pioneer Academics would like to empower you to pursue research. Whether you do it yourself or through Pioneer’s accredited system, a solid research process can make this experience fulfilling.
With our more than a decade of experience holding our high school scholars accountable to conducting high-standard research, Pioneer offers the following tools throughout the research process to unleash students’ potential:
- Guiding students on how to break the research down into smaller, manageable tasks.
- Affording access to the undergraduate library so that students have the right information and high-quality research materials.
- Getting challenged by qualified mentors and peers.
Pioneer Academics is the only fully accredited online research program that guides high school students through this life-changing research process!
However, conducting meaningful research on your own can be equally fulfilling. You can begin the process by subscribing to EBSCO or other online research databases that provide students with many fact-based resources they can use for background research. Also, online research tools such as Google Scholar can help you to find credible peer-reviewed publications that accept student researchers’ submissions.
In this blog post, we will show you step-by-step how you can conduct research in high school. First, we’ll tackle the first and most important question: Is it the best fit for you?
Additionally, since it’s always a popular question, we’ll touch on the topic of publishing your work and what you need to know.
Should You Write A Research Paper?
As a high schooler, conducting independent research will help you to extensively explore your interests, sharpen your research skills, and demonstrate your passion for knowledge.
When conducted properly, an independent research project has numerous benefits. It can help sharpen your critical thinking skills, help you formulate informed questions, and teach you self-discipline.
While writing and publishing a research article in high school sounds like an amazing achievement, it should not be the goal of doing research. You don’t want to conduct research just because you think it will look impressive on a college application.
The truth is many students are putting research on college applications, so you must have a genuine reason for writing a research article or attending a summer program. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
What are your interests?
This is the first question you should ask before starting a research project. What research interest fascinates and engages you? Let your personal interests guide you in making important decisions. Are you interested in STEM-based research, or do you want to explore your interests in other fields?
What are your skills?
Conducting successful research and publishing your work requires a wide range of skills. Research is challenging work. Aside from soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and a strong work ethic, you must also be proficient in writing, data analysis, and research.
It’s OK if you don’t have all the skills when you start; conducting research is a great way to learn them! But you must be patient and accept that some parts of the research phase of the process may take longer to master.
Do you like research projects?
Have you conducted research before? Did the new discoveries enthrall you? Research can be tiring, but your passion and enthusiasm for the topic will keep you going. You should also be able to identify the type of research project that intrigues you to select a research program that is right for you.
Do you have the time?
Another thing to remember is that research takes time, so make sure it fits into your schedule without interfering with your studies. Summer is one of the best times for high school students to conduct research. But, if your research cannot wait until the summer, use Google Calendar to keep track of and arrange your activities so that your study does not interfere with your other obligations.
3 Opportunities to Conduct Research for High School Students
Summer is an excellent time to begin scientific research. You’ll be free of your school year obligations and be better able to dedicate yourself to a program or internship.
If research is a commitment you want to take on, here are three ways that you can get started.
Many universities have outreach summer programs to help promote scientific research, and there may be one near you to give you hands-on research experience. These summer college programs can also offer high schoolers a closer look into college life.
RSI (Research Science Institute) at MIT is highly competitive, but it is one of the best research programs for high school students.
MIT PRIMES-USA, on the other hand, is a niche program focusing on a very specific type of research: mathematics.
Pioneer Academics online research program is another highly regarded and selective option for high school scholars. It is the only fully accredited online research program for high school students. Though the program is not campus-based, Pioneer students enjoy full access to institutional research resources through the Pioneer-Oberlin collaboration and accreditation.
The Anson Clark Scholars Program selects a small group of high school students to do research on the campus of Texas Tech University.
Check out our list of quality summer academic/research programs here.
Lab internships may provide another way to explore research opportunities. Contact your local library or laboratory to see if there are any openings, or look for laboratories accepting high school interns on websites, journals, or newspapers.
Find out if the research conducted at the lab aligns with your interests. Once you’ve found a lab that fascinates you, you’ll need to move quickly. Reach out early in winter or spring to secure your summer research experience.
Be determined and persuasive! Many labs may not take on high school interns. So be prepared to explain how you would be an asset to the lab team.
Online Research Opportunities
You can find almost anything online, including opportunities to get research experience. Around the time when the COVID-19 pandemic started, many organizations popped up to offer such opportunities to interested students.
As this is a very new niche, there are no targeted regulations or supervision of those practices connecting high school students with research mentors. Therefore, it is important to choose the right program to invest your time and money in!
Factors to Consider when Selecting a Research Opportunity
The reputation of the research program
Aligning your academic work with respected names in the field is key to conducting research. Perform a background check on the program you’re interested in, or better yet, ask your teacher for a recommendation.
Qualification of the program
Research opportunities that are backed by universities or colleges tend to be trusted. Understanding how the supervisory mechanism works helps to judge the level of the research programs.
History of the program
As this niche model is still new, there is no supervision yet. A history of the program can indicate how established the program is.
The research project will require your total commitment. So be sure to consider whether the program fits into your schedule without interfering with other activities.
Areas of interest
It may seem simple, but it is important to understand that original research is only possible after exploring the broader research area. Explore the broader research areas before zoning in on a particular research topic. Selecting a topic from a catalog tends to limit the seriousness and/or originality of the research you can conduct.
Independent research project with a full-length research paper
One of the basic requirements of Pioneer’s research program is that students complete a full-length research paper, which is typically 15~20 pages long.
Most programs have a registration fee to participate, so students and their families need to consider if they have the financial resources available for such a program. It’s always worth checking if any scholarships are available to help alleviate costs.
Can High School Students Get Published In Research Journals?
This is a popular research question, and the short answer is sure it is possible to get published in reputable research journals if you can prove that your work is authentic and thesis-driven.
However, having a publication record shouldn’t be the priority for a high school student. The point of conducting research is to dive deeper into your interests and pursue new knowledge.
But since so many high school students are led to believe that publication automatically equals academic success, you need to watch out for permissive or predatory journals.
There are journals that are specifically geared toward young students looking to get published, but the quality of these publications varies widely. It’s not good just to get published anywhere. Like any respected researcher, it’s important for you to be aware of the caliber of academic publications.
How to Evaluate Where to Submit Your Research Project for Publication
1. Peer Review Process
Reputable academic journals use a double-blind peer review process, which is uncommon with predatory journals.
2. How the Journal Accepts Submissions
Due to the high competition among scholars, reputable journals have a rigorous acceptance and publication process.
3. Governing Bodies and Editorial Boards
Credible journals have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are acknowledged experts in the topic areas covered by the article.
4. Journal Ranking
Journal ranking is extensively used in academic circles to assess the influence and quality of academic scholarly journals.
5. Publication Fees
As an author, you may be required to pay for submission and publication in a subscription-based journal but not in an open-access journal.
Other Methods For Sharing Your Research Project
We understand that many ambitious high school students want to showcase their work after taking the time and effort to conduct research by publishing it in a reputable academic journal. However, you should not succumb to the pressure of getting published as a high school student. Meaningful research findings can be presented appropriately showcased in the following venues.
Newspapers offer an alternative way to showcase your work if you cannot get it into credible research publications.
Your school clubs
Many students create and post blogs about their research projects. It is very impactful to share your findings with the school clubs related to the topic.
Presentation to your class
Classroom presentations also allow you to show your classmates and teachers what you’ve been working on.
The libraries & museums
You might be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities you can create through your libraries and museums to share your research findings.
Some high schools have research classes with an independent project component that can be submitted to local science fair competitions.
Pioneer Academics: For Students Interested in Research
At Pioneer Academics, we believe that students who will meaningfully impact society throughout their lives need personalized, guided educational experiences that inspire them to explore, question, generate, and test their ideas.
The Pioneer Research Program is a virtual research institute with the highest standards of selectivity and academic rigor. It is the only fully accredited online research program for high school students.
Accepted scholars conduct high-level research with and gain access to a full range of resources, including digital libraries, seminars, writing centers, and dedicated mentorships from faculty of leading colleges and universities.
Are you ready to get started on your research journey? Sign up for an info session today!