Sources of funding for research are often specific to particular kinds of research. For example, most (but not all) Harvard funding is for research conducted under the mentorship of a Harvard-affiliated faculty or researcher. Additionally, different sources may be specific to a particular discipline, field of study, time-of-year, etc. (Keep in mind, academic credit cannot be granted for research that is funded (unless the funding is not for the research itself but for equipment or ancillary expenses such as presenting the research at a conference, etc.)) While most Harvard undergraduates are able to find funds to support their research, some undergraduates decide to pursue unfunded research on a voluntary basis.
Common sources of undergraduate research support
Many Harvard College undergraduates find support for their research through funding sources such as HCRP, Herchel Smith, and the Faculty Aide Program. Do keep in mind, however, that these awards are not guaranteed, and may only provide partial funding. Therefore, we encourage you to look beyond these programs and consider applying to other sources of support, as suggested below.
Research Assistantships and funded research programs
Many faculty members expect to need help with their research over the summer (and occasionally during term-time) and will advertise paid Research Assistant positions through their department/research center's listserv, or through the Student Employment Office. Another excellent way to find funded research is to explore structured research programs at Harvard (e.g. PRISE, BLISS, PRIMO, SHARP, etc.) and outside Harvard (e.g. REUs).
Harvard and non-Harvard Databases
One place to start looking for Harvard-affiliated funds is CARAT. A non-Harvard database to consider is PIVOT, which contains funding sources for research in all fields and disciplines. (You will need to create a PIVOT login, then conduct an advanced search with ‘Undergraduate’ specified in the ‘Requirements’ field. Note: if looking for funds from outside Harvard, start early, as these opportunities may have deadlines far in advance of the anticipated award-date).
Research centers and academic departments
Harvard has a large number of research centers across campus. See here for FAS-affiliated research centers, and here for links to centers in other schools and collaborate centers. Many of these research centers provide funding for projects that overlap with the center’s mission. In addition, many academic departments provide financial support to concentrators conducting research in that field. Contact your concentration advisers to find out about these awards (see the Advising Programs Office for a list of advisers).
Speak with faculty and other mentors
If your research supports the larger project of a faculty-member, they might be able to provide you with a small stipend from their own funds. Furthermore, faculty members, TFs, tutors, and peers may have interacted with many other students conducting research. Make sure you speak with your network of advisers, especially those faculty who work in the discipline, because they may be able to identify funding sources that you have not thought of.