2,893 Inspirational Research Project Ideas

Turn inspirations into your passion project.

This collection of project ideas, shared by Polygence mentors, is meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Cultivating Happiness

In this project, we will look into evidence-based techniques for creating and savoring positive experiences. You will get to pick a couple of these techniques to practice (or have some friends practice) over a short period of time. You will then use self-report measures to determine the effects of the techniques.

Social, Psychology

Regina
Regina

Infographic Design - Lasting Impressions

Parents, peers, siblings, teachers, and many others influence young people's everyday choices and behaviors, but the extent to which they do tends to change across development. Make a series of infographics that explain which sources of influence may be more important than others from infancy to adulthood. Learn data visualization by enhancing your Excel and Powerpoint skills.

Social

Kathy
Kathy

Why is the U.S. supporting the war in Ukraine?

In general, why do countries go to war? And when do other countries decide to help them? This project might entail reading scholarly literature, gathering and analyzing data, and presenting results in the form of an essay, op-ed, or other platform of your choosing. If interested, you could explore these questions from a historical perspective using online archival resources.

Social, Social Science, Quantitative

Alexandra
Alexandra

Morality + artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is becoming a part of our social world. What does this mean for morality? In this project, we'll read and discuss papers concerning people's beliefs and judgments concerning AI (e.g., self-driving cars, humanoid robots). Then, we'll figure out which area you're most interested in. For example, what do children think about robots? Does this differ from adults? Do people think that robots have minds? We'll develop a project together, based on your interests. This could involve whatever you want it to! We could run an experiment, analyze data, and write a paper; we could put together a podcast and interview experts across moral philosophy and psychology. This is one of my favorite topics, and I'd love to work on something cool together.

Cognitive, Social, Psychology

Madeline
Madeline

Educate the public on a topic of your choosing!

Is there a mental health, public health, or social science topic you are passionate about? Do you want to educate people about a medical illness you care about? Hone your teaching and leadership skills while bringing awareness to the public! You can do this by creating a website, a social media platform, or a podcast! I have experience with doing this myself, and can help you learn skills such as Canva to create content you're proud of. Let's brainstorm!

Psychiatry, Biology, Neuroscience, Social, Psychology

Jessica
Jessica

The Write-Up

So, you conducted the study and collected the data. Now what? Well, it's time to put your findings into writing! By writing a research report, you'll learn to clearly outline your methods, understand how to present data, and talk about the significance of your findings. Together, we'll break down the structure of a good research report, work on the manuscript iteratively, and discuss the nuances of scientific writing. At the end of this project, you'll have a copy of your research report! Whether it be academic (like a peer-reviewed paper) or general (like a blog post).

Social, Statistics, Psychology, Social Science

Aili
Aili

Build Your Own Business Using the Lean Start-up Method

Do you wish you could be on Shark Tank? Through this project, a student would learn how to develop their own business using the Lean Start-up Method. This includes learning how to do market research, developing a business plan, and creating a pitch deck. The ultimate goal is to get investment!

Psychology, Philanthropy, Business, Psychiatry, Organizational Leadership, Social

Simran
Simran

Role of Stigma in Health and Social Outcomes of Autistic Individuals

In this project, we will explore the role stigma may play in health and/or social outcomes of autistic individuals. Much work in autism focuses a lot on the perspectives of researchers and/or caregivers and not much on the lived experiences of autistic individuals (although this is starting to gradually increase). Given that many autistic individuals report poorer healthcare outcomes, this project is interested in exploring the role stigma might play. This project can focus on either autistic children, adults, or transition youth depending on your interests. We can work together to determine the method of this work (i.e. literature review, survey/questionnaire, documentary, etc) depending on your skillset and interests.

Social, Linguistics

Tobi
Tobi

Stigma Towards People with Mental Health Conditions

In this project, we could easily adapt existing stigma scales and ask community members to participate. This project would help us gauge what kinds of stigma towards mental health conditions exist in a particular community.

Public Health, Social

Hannah
Hannah

LGBTQ school climate

Is your school a friendly environment for LGBTQ+ students? We can work together to create a survey or conduct interviews to learn more about how LGBTQ students feel in your school or how non-LGBTQ students and staff perceive LGBTQ students. With a quantitative survey, we can answer questions such as "Do white LGBTQ students feel more comfortable than non-white LGBTQ students?" or "What percentage of school staff would say they support LGBTQ students in your school?" With a qualitative survey, we can answer questions such as "How do LGBTQ students describe their experiences in the cafeteria?" or "What changes could be made to events such as school dances to make LGBTQ students feel more included?"

Psychology, Creative Writing, Social, Social Science

Nat
Nat

Does time of day affect our sense of humor?

Assign friends/volunteers to rate the funniness of memes and comedy videos in the morning vs the evening, and gauge whether jokes are funnier to people in the evening (when people are statistically less inhibited, and more cognitively flexible) vs the morning (when people are more focused, and show greater inhibition). Note: my research has already tackled this question, but we can come up with another very doable idea like this one!

Social, Sports Analytics

Drew
Drew

Moral Cognitive Decision Making in U.S. Politics

This proposed study could examine the intersection between morality and social decision making in relation to political moral conviction and its potential to predict congressional decisions. The overall goal for the study would be to curate research facilitating national harmony endeavoring an advancement in peoples’ cognitive capacities at empathizing for those who are less fortunate, marginalized, and degraded through the creation, enforcement, and evaluation of U.S. laws.

Cognitive, Neuroscience, Social, Psychology, Social Science

Bayla
Bayla

How do immigrants interact with one another? How do they shape the US?

Projects related to this question would examine how immigrants are shaping the US and how they are being shaped by the US. As immigrants continue to flow into the US and hail from increasingly diverse places, how do our understandings of diversity and interaction between immigrants change?

Social

Dan
Dan

Neurodiversity through History

How do our thinking styles vary, and how has the way we talk about that variation changed over time? What can we learn from the past about how unique "brains" are viewed across different times and places? This project could take the form of a written research paper or a presentation of research in a video or a podcast.

Social, Statistics, Psychology, Math

Eleanor
Eleanor

Who are You? An exploration of intersectionality

Intersectionality is defined as overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage and how that impacts social standing and identity. In this project, we will explore systemic oppression and how it affects those closest to us. This project is meant to be a case study of yourself or someone of your choosing to explore the overlap of various identities and the policies and practices that influence those. This project requires deep reflective work and we will explore concepts of positionality and unconscious bias. Similarly, you will become familiarized with various qualitative research methods such as ethnography and grounded theory.

Social

Brianna
Brianna

Design a Clinical Trial

You will present a rationale for and design a clinical trial to investigate the impact of a particular psychological intervention in a mental disorder of your choosing. For example, "Does daily meditation decrease anxiety in adolescent girls?" In this project, you will conduct a literature review, explain the methodology of your study, and present hypothetical results and their potential implications. Through this project, you will learn how to develop an experiment like a professional clinical psychologist!

Social

Tom
Tom

How young adults are managing friendships with people who have different social and/or political views

With a sharp increase in involvement and awareness of issues of social change (such as protesting racism, advocating for LGBTQia+ rights, etc.) among youth and young adults has also come an increase in conflict with friends and family who have differing views. This tension can cause feelings of loneliness and disturbances to sense of belonging in social circles, which may lead to individuals withdrawing and being resistant to engaging in sociopolitical discourse with their friends. However, bottling their thoughts and feelings to avoid conflict may also lead to greater stress, anxiety, and feelings inauthenticity. It is important to understand how young adults are navigating these difficult situations in order to assess the consequences for individuals' social relationships and mental health.

Gender and Feminist Studies Research

Are there gender discrepancies you've noticed that really bother you? Do women in your school get treated very differently than the men do? Doing a gender and/or feminist project requires close attention to inequality and a willingness to hypothesize solutions. Creativity and a passion for equality is also a must!

Social

Maya
Maya

Do positive emotions promote flourishing mental health through greater perceived meaning in life?

More than the absence of negative emotions, greater positive emotions are a strong predictor of flourishing mental health. One potential reason for this relationship may be the close relationship between positive affect and perceived meaning in life. Greater perceived meaning is associated with lower suicide ideation and greater mental health outcomes. In this project, we will explore how positive emotions and dimensions of perceived meaning (e.g., purpose in life, "social" mattering versus existential mattering) may predict a variety of psychosocial health outcomes. We can then design an experiment to test our hypothesis, or synthesize the literature to create a podcast or other media outlet to disseminate knowledge to a general audience!

Social, Psychology

Taylor
Taylor

Analyze barriers to mental health care access in a population of your interest.

Although mental health is finally gaining attention, unfortunately there are large disparities in who can access mental health care. Performing a literature review to investigate the reasons behind these barriers, and how to circumvent them. Write a research article that analyzes your findings and offers potential solutions. You can customize the project to a population you care about, such as adolescents or certain racial or ethnic groups.

Psychiatry, Biology, Neuroscience, Social, Psychology

Jessica
Jessica