What is success in computing research?

There is no single definition of success in research, undergraduate or otherwise. Discovery and progress is one kind of success. Learning new skills is another. Even failing to discover or invent something can result in important insights about why a problem is hard to solve or a question is hard to answer. There are certainly many stereotypical forms of success — publishing research papers, making impactful discoveries — but these tend to overlook the contributions of a broader community working together over many decades on hard problems. In many cases, it’s the long history of failures that eventually lead to success.

At an undergraduate level, success might just mean acquiring some research skills, such as how to read research papers, how to organize your research tasks, or how to write about research discoveries. Doing and publishing research with doctoral students and faculty is a great way to learn these skills. Several organizations recognize students for their research success, including the CRA with its Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award and the ACM’s Student Research Competition.