Reasons to Get Involved in Research
Psychology is a science that rests on a foundation of research. Some undergraduate jobs, many careers for psychologists with master's degrees, and virtually all careers of psychologists with PhDs require research skills.
Graduate schools tend to be more interested in applicants with research experience, and such experiences can help you decide to what extent you'd like your career to involve research activities.
Learning to do research involves both knowledge you gain in the classroom and knowledge you gain from being involved in research projects and working with mentors.
Getting Started—Finding a Mentor
No one expects you to begin with a research idea in mind. Faculty have spent years studying and usually have many research study ideas. Therefore, the first step is to find a faculty member with whom to work.
When considering whom to choose, consider a faculty member you had for a class, someone you respect and with whom can get along. Or you may first choose a research topic or area that interests you and then choose a faculty member involved in that type of research. Some faculty include their research interests in their biographies, but you can also refer to the lists of research interests and projects kept in the department's office (NQ 104) and on the department bulletin boards. Most faculty rarely deviate from their stated research agendas, but others are open to discussing ideas with students and developing a project from those ideas.
Support for Student Research and Researchers
Several resources support students' research endeavors:
Academic credit: your research involvement may be eligible for course credit. (See PSYS 497 and 498 in the undergraduate course listings).
Scholarships and fellowships: receiving scholarships and fellowships may help relieve the financial responsibilities of research.
Awards: when your research is complete, you may submit it to competitions that often give money and recognition to students who have completed high-quality research projects.
Grants: grant money helps you with startup costs for research, such as buying supplies.