Are you involved with research? Are you taking research design, doing an independent project, or working in a professor's lab? No? Well you should be! The National Science Foundation suggests that all students get involved in research (Taraban & Logue, 2012). Anyone can benefit from being involved in research, especially Psi Chi members. Those with high GPAs (which as a Psi Chi member you already have!) and upperclassmen especially benefit, but getting involved in research as soon as possible is always advised and beneficial (Taraban & Logue, 2012). If you are sitting here wondering if research is for you, I will hopefully answer any questions you have as I discuss the social and academic benefits of participating in research, how research experience can improve your employability and chances of getting into graduate school, and how to get involved in research.
There are numerous benefits to being involved in research. Some benefits are social in nature, with peer and faculty support increasing the more you do research (Taraban & Logue, 2012). Many students enjoy meeting other like-minded students in laboratory settings and being able to get to know professors better (Lei & Chuang, 2009). Being involved in research can lead to lasting friendships, and future academic and work connections as students graduate and go on to graduate school or the business world. Students also feel like their teamwork, organizational, and leadership skills increase from their research experience and many feel an increase in their self-confidence (Lei & Chuang, 2009).
Of course, most benefits are academic in nature. If you feel lost in your research design class there is good news for you. After a brief time of being involved in research, a majority of students report a perceived increase in research skills, understanding of the scientific process, and the ability to think like a scientist (John & Creighton, 2011). Research experience can lead to you learning how to use statistical programs like SPSS, write scientifically and use APA style, and make effective oral presentations- all skills that are valued in the workplace (Lei & Chuang, 2009; Taraban & Logue, 2012). Psi Chi, here at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), offers help and advice in all these areas, offering tutoring in APA style, statistics workshops, and affording you the opportunity to go to the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) conference and present your research. You can also be a researcher in one of Psi Chi’s research teams! We will discuss this in further detail later.
While being involved in research increases your future employability, it also, of course, increases your potential for graduate school. Increasingly, research experience is becoming a necessity when applying to graduate school, especially in competitive doctoral programs such as clinical psychology. If you aren't quite sure what type of program you want to go to or if graduate school is even for you, being involved in research can reinforce your interest in graduate school or help you better inform your decision for or against applying to graduate schools (John & Creighton, 2011). Psi Chi can help you determine if you would like to attend graduate programs with the aid of our graduate school workshops offered to students here at SFASU and by offering different avenues of research for you to explore.
Now that you see why getting research experience is a good idea, you may be wondering exactly how you could get involved with research. First, there are a few courses here at SFASU that you can take for course credit, and gain research experience while your at it! These courses are PSY 341 Research Design, PSY 497 Research Seminar, and PSY 475 Special Problems. All psychology majors must take Research Design and you have the option to take Research Seminar for your psychology core requirements, but Special Problems is completely voluntary and requires some special planning. For starters, you have to have advanced standing, permission of the instructor, and at least a 3.0 GPA (which Psi Chi members shouldn't have to worry about). Next, you need to approach a professor and ask if they would be willing to do research with you and decide on a topic for which you will write a research proposal over. Approaching professors may be intimidating, but just remember that they want you to succeed just as much as you do! Once the semester starts you get to carry out your research study and write your manuscript. It is a very exciting thing to get to see something you had a major part in creating coming to life and it looks great to have a completed manuscript on your Curriculum Vitae (CV). A CV is like an academic version of your resume, listing all of your accomplishments in college. Graduate programs like for you to submit a CV, so its best if its not empty! Having a completed manuscript shows that you've been through almost every step of research and this will be viewed very favorably by graduate programs. Afterward, you can present your research at conferences such as SWPA and even submit it for publication to journals such as the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological research, a journal just for undergraduate and graduate research that only Psi Chi members can submit to. However, there are various journals that all students can submit to.
One exciting way to dive head first into research is to join a Psi Chi research team. These teams typically consist of around three people and a faculty adviser and you work together to come up with a research idea, conduct the experiment, and write a poster presentation to submit to SWPA. Posters look great on your CV, showing graduate programs that you know how to present research, and the experience of attending a conference and presenting your research is invaluable. To get involved on a research team you can come to the next general Psi Chi meeting on October 4th. During this meeting and during the Meet the Professors event that will happen after the meeting, groups will be formed and advisers will be chosen. You will get to speed meet the professors in groups with other students (so it won't be so intimidating if you aren't comfortable doing one-on-one) and talk about their research and your research interests. After talking to all of them you can decide whose research best matches your interests and go from there. Please come to the meeting if you would like to get involved! The submission deadline for SWPA is November, 30th so it is best to get started as soon as possible. Everyone interested in participating is welcome! You don’t have to be a member of Psi Chi to join one of our research teams.
Another way to get involved in research is to join a professor's lab as a research assistant. As a research assistant you will get to help the professor out with all of his or her projects by doing things like running participants, entering data, and sometimes even being a co-author on posters or publications. To do this you will need to approach a professor whose research interests you. The next part of this article will go over some of the professors here at SFASU, their research interests, and how to get involved in their lab.
Dr. Luis E Aguerrevere- Biopsychology. Education bld 215B, Stephen F. Austin State University, Box 13046 - SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-3046. Phone: (936) 468-1458 Fax: (936) 468-4015. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Matt Gailliot- Social Psychology. You can contact Dr. Gailliot at email@example.com or at (936) 468-1502.
Dr. Robert Polewan- Biopsychology. Anyone who would like to become a research assistant can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 936-468-1483.
Dr. Sarah Savoy: Social & Developmental Psychology. Office: 215H EDU Phone: (936) 468-5117 E-mail: email@example.com
Dr. Latoya Wesley- Social Psychology. Students who may be interested in assisting may contact Dr. Wesley directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John, J. & Creighton, J. (2011). Researcher development: The impact of undergraduate research opportunity programmes on students in the UK. Studies In Higher Education, 36(7), 781-797.
Lei, S. A. & Chuang, N. K. (2009). Undergraduate research assistantship: A comparison of benefits and costs from faculty and students' perspectives. Education, 130(2), 232-240.
Taraban, R. & Logue, E. (2012). Academic factors that affect undergraduate research experiences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 499-514.