Almost every student has had their “eureka!” moment. It is the moment when, after repeatedly studying the same material, the information finally wraps together into one neatly packaged idea. This is the moment the undergraduate research database, Eureka, set out to create. Eureka is a database designed for students looking for ongoing research projects they can participate in. Sadly, Eureka has completely fallen short of its goals by failing to keep the database updated.
I’ve had my fair share of troubles with Eureka. The first professor I found via Eureka conducted fascinating research about the privatization of security. As an international relations and global studies major, I was enthralled by Ori Swed’s research and emailed him immediately. And then I received the letdown.
“I am no longer in UT, I am now in TTU,” Swed responded via email.
Not a problem, I thought. Swed may no longer work here, but there are a plethora of other research opportunities. Next, I reached out to Peter Ward about his research about the Latin American Housing Network.
After visiting him in his office, Ward told me his project ended in 2007.
This research opportunity was labeled on the database as an “ongoing project.”
The Information Technology Services’ application development team, in charge of fixing Eureka’s bugs and service issues, should start including the year when a listed research project was last updated so students are not misled. Furthermore, projects that are falsely labeled as “ongoing” should have this label removed immediately.
Many liberal arts students face the same issue I had with Eureka’s outdated research opportunities. It has grown to be such an issue that the UT Liberal Arts Council has set up “an appointment with the IT department of UGS about how they are redoing Eureka,” Angélica Lomax, Liberal Arts Council academic affairs co-chair wrote via email.
The council’s undergraduate research survey asks where liberal arts students are getting their research opportunities from, and they then plan to communicate the findings to associate dean Robert Crosnoe.
Already, survey responses reveal that “the general consensus is Eureka is outdated,” Jackson Hall, council academic affairs co-chair said.
It is unfortunate that students have to tackle this issue. If Eureka was built to serve students, why are students fighting to find accurate information on research opportunities?
According to some, Eureka’s outdated project listings are still helpful for students.
“Outdated research opportunities are still displayed so students can know what professors have worked on in the past,” Robert Reichle, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research said. “This helps students start the process of reaching out to a professor whose research interests align with theirs.”
But if this is the point of Eureka, why even have it at all? HB 2504 already requires that students have access to professors’ curriculum vitaes on the university website. These CVs include a complete list of all of a professors’ publications and research interests — and it’s actually up to date.
Through this route, students can more easily find what professors have worked on, so when the time comes to reach out about research opportunities, the student is well informed and more likely to land a research opportunity.
For now, if the College of Liberal Arts students want a research opportunity, they should turn away from Eureka and instead look into joining the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Chapter for Research, pursuing the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program or finding professors the good old-fashioned way by searching a department’s website.
Until the Information Technology Services’ application development team includes the date a page was last updated and fixes false “ongoing project” labels, don’t waste your time — the only “eureka!” moment you’ll stumble upon is a cry of dissatisfaction over outdated research opportunities.
Marlatt is an international relations and global studies freshman from Missouri City.