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This study examines undergraduate research experiences at a minority-serving institution (MSI) in a political science laboratory. Students contributed to projects in a collaborative research lab at the University of California Riverside that involves undergraduate and graduate students in projects related to health and politics. Adopting a participatory approach to research, the study’s research participants also are coauthors who co-created the research protocols; collected the data; transcribed, coded, and analyzed the data; and wrote up the findings. Our analysis of 12 in-depth interviews with current and former undergraduate research assistants (RAs) found that their work in the lab challenged their perceptions of what research is and what it means to do research; shaped their path to pursue graduate studies; developed their social and professional skills; and offered an inclusive and humanizing experience with graduate students and faculty members. Challenges that the RAs mentioned included time management, bureaucratic accounting and payroll procedures, and feelings of self-doubt; the lab’s culture of inclusion and independence mitigated some of these challenges. Our findings align with the scholarly literature that suggests collaborative research opportunities can have beneficial outcomes, particularly for students from groups that are underrepresented in doctoral programs.
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