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RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AND THE VALUE OF RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
- Value of research experience
- How to Obtain Research Experience
- How to Approach Faculty Members About Research Assistant Positions
- Postings for Research Positions in the Psychology Department
- Undergraduate Student Research Awards, Fellowships, Competitions, etc.
Research experience is valuable for:
- skill development e.g.,
- applying knowledge that you learn in the classroom
- develop distinctive marketable skills
- assessing your interest and potential for doing further research during later years of your Bachelor's degree and beyond.
- assessing your educational and career choices
For example, following the Bachelor's degree:
- might you seek employment where you would conduct research in educational, business, government, industry, or hospital/treatment settings?
- will you pursue further studies? Will it be in Psychology or not? Will it be a research oriented program or not? Will it be at the college or university level?
- networking – get better known by faculty members
- who will be potential supervisors for Directed Studies courses (Psych 480-486) or Honours Thesis projects (Psych 499A/B/C)
- for whom a volunteer or part-time research position with him/her could lead to a full-time research position for you in the future
- who could be potential writers of reference letters regarding your potential for graduate school admission or future employment, worthinesss for scholarships for future study, etc.
It is important to cultivate research experience inside and outside the classroom beginning as early as year two. For example:
A. Obtain research experience while earning academic credit, for example:
- enrol in a Research Apprenticeship course (Psych 264 or 464) which involves a volunteer position in a faculty member's lab for 8 hours per week for 13 weeks for academic credit.
- be an active participant in the Advanced Research Methods Courses (Psych 392-399)
- enrol in an independent/directed studies course which would allow you to conduct an empirical project in a natural science (Psych 483) or social science (Psych 484) area of Psychology.
- do an Honours Thesis (Psych 499A/B/C)
B. Seek a research assistant (RA) position that is not for academic credit, for example:
- a volunteer RA position in a faculty member's lab (e.g., 3-5 hours per week). Year 2 is not too early for such a position.
- a paid RA position on a part-time or full-time basis in a faculty member's lab.
- a research award that provides an opportunity for a paid RA position in a faculty member's lab or elsewhere.
C. If you are a student in the Coop Stream of Study,
- seek at least one co-op positions (if possible) where you will obtain research experience on the job. Review job postings on JobMine carefully.
Speak to individual faculty members about the opportunities (volunteer or paid) that are available in their labs. Also ask for referrals.
When making contact, offer/provide information regarding your background and interests. For example:
- reasons for wanting to gain research experience
- the program that you are enrolled in
(e.g., General versus Honours, BA versus BSc, Coop versus Regular stream, etc.)
- year of study
- cumulative overall and psychology average (highlight improvement if applicable)
- grades for research methods and statistics courses
- educational and career goals
- volunteer/work experience that you have had previously and with whom
- why you are interested in working in that particular individual's lab e.g.,
- did you take a course with him/her previously?
- have you read articles that he/she wrote?
- does his/her interests relate to your interests for studies at the graduate level and/or future employment?
- were you referred by someone and why?
- what type of position are you seeking (e.g., volunteer for academic credit, volunteer for no academic credit, part-time or full-time paid position). If requesting a paid RA
position but would accept a volunteer position if necessary, include that information.
The method of contact is up to you. If you have already established rapport with a faculty (e.g., volunteer work, course work, etc.), you might feel comfortable having causal conversations with him/her regarding the prospect of a RA position (volunteer or paid). If you are trying to make first contact with a particular faculty member(s), you could do this by:
- stopping by his/her office for a chat (ask - Is now is a good time?) and/or to request an appointment to discuss your request at a later time
- call to book an appointment to discuss your request
- send an email message to the individual about your interest in an RA position.
Because faculty members are very busy and typically receive a high volume of requests for volunteer/paid RA positions, we can’t guarantee that response time to these inquiries will be within 5 working days, or that all requests for RA positions will be acknowledged Thus, if you are keen on working with a particular individual and you haven't received a response to an email message after 2-3 weeks, email again or call the faculty member to ask if he/she had time to review your message and whether or not he/she would be interested in meeting with you to discuss your interest in an RA position.
If the response is that no positions are currently available, feel free to ask for referrals. Also ask graduate students (e.g,. your teaching assistants for courses) if they are aware of any RA positions.
See sections below for available research opportunities. Not all positions will be advertised so networking is important.
Positions for pay:
NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (NSERC USRA)
(Details for the 2014 competition are pending. Check back Dec 6, 2013)
NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (NSERC USRA)
(Details for the 2014 competition are pending. Check back Nov 22, 2013 for an update)
Last update was Nov 22, 2013