To Research or Not?

pavlovWhen I first started at McGill I had no intentions of ever wanting to do anything whatsoever involving research. I always had this mental image (or as psychologists like to say “schema”) of what research involved. Sitting in a lab, in front of a computer, just collecting and inputting data. I never stopped to think of all the other stuff which are involved with doing studies.

The first time I actually got to see a study first hand was in my first semester. A good proportion of psychology classes have an option where for up to 2% bonus on your grade you can enter the psychology participant pool. Basically what this is, is you sign up for a study through the participant pool website and then you go and take a part in it. There are two general types of studies – one that takes place in an actual lab, or one you can do from your own computer wherever you may be. The first study I took part in was at a lab, and it was really interesting going through the whole process – consent form, debriefing, the actual study – and realizing it was much more than just data.

In my second semester I started participating in more studies, this time not just for an extra boost in a class. Most studies offer a cash compensation per hour of their study. So not only is this a good opportunity to go and see all the different types of studies being held, but it’s also an easy way to make a few dollars while helping out the scientific community.

Unfortunately, by myself doing a double major I wasn’t apply to apply to the honours program in psychology (due to the credit limit and that fact I would’ve exceeded it majorly), so I’m trying to do all of the equivalent. I recently learned that there is a course called “Undergraduate Research Project” where for one semester you find a supervisor and work on a project. This is the equivalent (I believe so anyways, correct me if I’m wrong!) to taking a research course as an honours student. If any of you are applying to grad school, a research course where you work on a thesis is a MUST.

If you still aren’t sure research is something you want to pursue I highly recommend you go and check out the Arts Undergraduate Research event being held the afternoon of the 19th of January. It will be showcasing research projects that students have done, either for their research project courses or for their scholarship, not just from psychology but from all the other arts domains. By being able to see the different types of research students have done may give you ideas for research that you may want to conduct, or even spark an interest in volunteering in a lab.

Here is the link to the event: http://www.mcgill.ca/arts-undergraduate-research/annual-undergraduate-research-event

I hope everyone is having a good start to their semester!

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