Because the undergraduate research project can be developed at many levels of the curriculum, it is important to identify specifically what skills the project is being designed to enhance. Although one might expect students to be proficient in accessing existing knowledge, displaying command of that knowledge, providing both theoretical and empirical interpretations, applying knowledge, asking pertinent and penetrating questions, and creating new knowledge (Hansen, 1986) by the end of their undergraduate studies, courses throughout their studies introduce and develop each of these skills.

For example, in an industrial organisation and public policy course a research project that focuses on displaying command of existing knowledge might require students to conduct a review of literature in a single industry to determine its structure, firm conduct and economic performance in support of a determination of the position of that industry on the competitive-monopoly market continuum. More detailed discussion of skills development is found in the following section.