Mentoring is a key component of the McNair Scholars program and many of Northern’s faculty members tirelessly dedicate their time, energy and experience as faculty mentors. Mentors play a vital role in the overall success of the McNair Program by helping scholars plan their research and academic programs, assisting in the development of research skills, and planning and preparing scholars for admission into graduate programs.
One of the first tasks of a McNair scholar is to identify potential faculty mentors in your major area of study. Scholars are encouraged to seek out a mentor they feel they will work well with, but the McNair staff can also assist scholars with introductions to faculty who have expressed interest in being a mentor. Scholars will need to ask their prospective mentor about their research interests, what work they could do, what hours they would work, what publication opportunities are available and about the level of personal support the mentor can provide. Scholars are encouraged to interview several potential mentors, as research success depends on scholars and mentors having an excellent relationship and having all expectations addressed at the start.
Preparing for Research
After scholars have selected a faculty mentor, it is time to start preparing for their upcoming summer research project, which takes place between one’s junior and senior year.
During the winter semester of their junior year, scholars meet regularly with their faculty mentor, prepare their research proposal and immerse themselves in literature related to their research topic.
This is a busy semester for scholars, as they are expected to still attend all necessary McNair seminars and workshops in addition to preparing for their research project. During this time, scholars will also be receiving information about summer housing, their research timeline and paper submission deadlines, tuition waivers and college credit application processes.
Summer Research Component
The key element that distinguishes doctoral study is independent research. Typical undergraduate programs have little or no emphasis on this aspect of scholastic life, but understanding how research is done is essential in graduate school.
In the summer between their junior and senior year, NMU McNair scholars participate and complete their summer research project. This is the capstone experience of the McNair program. During a six- week period scholars are expected to work 20-30 hours a week on their research, receiving guidance from their faculty mentors on the project from start to finish. At the project’s completion and before September 1, a 20-30 page research paper is to be completed and submitted to the McNair office.
Presenting Your Research
At the completion of the summer research project, the McNair office will work with scholars to develop a poster based on research findings. A workshop by the McNair director will assist scholars in using their computer to develop a poster, and the McNair program will pay for the cost of printing posters.
students presenting workAt the "Celebration of Student Scholarship" in the spring, scholars will have the opportunity to present results to a local audience. Additionally, scholars are encouraged to work with their faculty mentor and consider peer-reviewed journal publications for their research. Mentors provide advice regarding appropriate journals and assist in editing and preparing articles for publication.
Some scholars and their mentors may be invited to present their findings at regional conferences. The program may financially support travel requests for these conferences, depending on cost and available funding.