There are a variety of ways to get involved in research, including:
- How To Sign Up For Research
- Your rights as a research participant
- After the research session
- Alternatives to research participation
- Special Studies
- Conducting Research
We believe that participating in research is an integral part of Psychology. By participating in research at this level, we hope you will both learn something about how psychological research is conducted and will perhaps be inspired to conduct some psychological research during your undergraduate career.
Your instructor will determine the kind and amount of credit you receive for your participation. Please refer to your class syllabus for this information.
Please see the following document for detailed instructions on how to sign up for research. Participant Protocol
We are committed to protecting your privacy and integrity as a research participant. You have the right to an explanation of any study before you agree to participate. In addition, everything that you say or do during a research project is strictly confidential. If, for some reason, you suddenly decide that you would rather not participate in a research project after all, then just ask for your credit slip and leave. You cannot be penalized in any way for leaving a research session once it has begun and you have given your informed consent.
Your responsibility as a research participant
Your responsibility as a participant is to show up to the correct location at the correct time, and to notify the experimenter if a conflict develops as soon as possible so that s/he can remove your name from the roster. Please do not sign up for experiment times that you do not plan to keep. Please see the following document for some helpful hints about research participation etiquette. Research Etiquette
When the research session is over, you will receive both a written and an oral explanation of the research project. Pay close attention and ask any question you like – this is your chance to find out what the research was all about. The researcher may ask you not to share certain parts of the research with others. It is very important for the research project that you help them by not talking about their research. If you do talk, you may be ruining someone’s senior project
If you cannot find a research project to participate in, or if you simply don’t want to participate in research, there are several alternatives available to you. Form to do this are available online and the list of available videos are available here.
Some of the studies you sign up for may have hidden purposes that you will not be told about until the end of the study. For instance, you might be told that a study is about memory when it is really about self-esteem or attention.
If you would prefer not to be in any studies that might mislead you about their purpose, merely stop by the main office and sign up on a list the Psychology Administrative Assistant keeps for that purpose. We will then make certain that you are never posted as eligible for any study that may involve misleading you.
In addition, some studies ask that students undergo procedures that might be viewed as stressful (for example, holding your hand in ice water or doing physical exercise). If you would prefer not to be eligible for studies that involve stress, the Psychology Administrative Assistant keeps a sign-up list for this too.
If you sign up on these lists, wait to hear from us before you sign up for a study. We will let you know when one matches your requirements.
Please see the following document for detailed instructions on how to gain access to the Participant Pool as a researcher.Researcher Protocol and application to use the Participant Pool.
Your use of the Psychology Department Participant Pool is a privilege, and with that privilege come certain responsibilities. The department is concerned:
* That students’ trust in psychologists is not compromised
* That students be treated with courtesy
* That the information students provide be kept strictly confidential
* That students give their informed consent before participating in research
* That the research in which students participate have educational value
Most students enter the psychological research setting with some level of trust in the experimenter. After all, isn’t this person a Psychologist (or at least a budding one)? Shouldn’t they be sensitive to such things as feelings and emotions? Please don’t disappoint students’ expectations. Even if your study is about serial memory schemata, you are dealing with real people. Be sensitive to their needs and concerns.
Please treat subjects with the same courtesy you would expect. These people are helping you with your research project and deserve your gratitude. If you treat them badly, not only might your data be contaminated, but you may have discouraged someone from choosing a career in Psychology.
Subjects in research have every right to expect that their information will be kept confidential. This means that you cannot talk about individual subjects with your colleagues in such a manner that you identify them. Please make sure that papers from your research are kept in secure places (like locked rooms) so that no one could accidentally discover a subject’s identity.
Informed consent of participants is a central criterion for conducting ethical research. Subjects must know enough about your study so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want to participate or not. Informed consent includes mentioning all of the following things to subjects before they sign the informed consent form:
* Identify any sponsors of your research (such as the National Science Foundation or the Psychology Department Research Fund).
* Describe the purpose of your study in language that the layperson can understand.
* Mention how long the person will need to take to complete your study.
* Identify in language the layperson can understand any procedures or manipulations in such a way that subjects can determine if they are willing to undergo them.
This is a touchy issue. Give the subject all the information you can without influencing their responses in your study. If you must deceive subjects about the purpose or procedures of your study, make certain that you have considered non-deceptive options and identified them to the Research Ethics Committee.
* Identify any potential risks subjects may face from participation.
* Assure subjects that their data will be held in strict confidentiality.
You need to compose a written explanation of your study. You will give this paragraph or so to subjects upon completion of their participation. The statement must explain the study to the participant in a way that is engaging, understandable, and reasonably comprehensive. Most statements will be about one single spaced page of text and will contain some suggestions for further reading (at the general interest level, not just journal articles). When you apply for use of the Subject Pool, this written explanation will be reviewed by the Subject Pool Administrator.
Review of Applications
When you have turned in this form, the Subject Pool Administrator will review your request and approve a certain number of subjects for your project. Those doing research for Distinction credit and for Independent Research will get priority. You will be notified of the decision within 10 days of submitting your application. At that time you will receive signup sheets to fill out and credit slips for the number of subjects that have been approved for your study.
Applying to Utilize the Participant Pool
Please complete the following form and turn it in to the Participant Pool Coordinator. Your request will be reviewed, approved, and you will be granted access to the sign up documents. Students conducting research doing research for Distinction credit and for Independent Research will get priority. You will be notified of the decision within 10 days of submitting your application. At that time you will receive signup sheets to fill out and credit slips for the number of subjects that have been approved for your study. All research must follow St Olaf IRB guidelines, and have approval of both your research advisor and the IRB before commencing.
After Each Subject in Your Study
When you have finished running a subject in a study, you are obligated to give that student both an oral and a written explanation of the study. This explanation of your study is crucial in maintaining the educational nature of the participant pool. Please be as conscientious as you can in explaining your study and as helpful as you can in answering questions your subjects may have. Only after a subject has both participated in your study and received your verbal and written explanation can you authorize credit. The only exception to this is for subjects who decide to leave the study early. Students who have shown up and given informed consent for the study get their credit, even if they leave immediately. They should also get the debriefing sheet.
Many psychology majors do research projects with faculty. To get started, think about what interests you in psychology. Then find out what areas faculty are interested in researching; look at the descriptions on faculty members’ web pages and come talk with us.
Some of the ways to do research with St. Olaf faculty include:
- Registering for Independent Study/ Independent Research (Psych 298/Psych 398): These individual courses are arranged by talking directly with a faculty member and together deciding on a plan for your work together.
- Registering for Psych 396: Directed Research: This is a course listed in the Class and Lab. For any given semester there may be one or more faculty who are offering a section of Psych 396. Typically this course will enroll a small group of students who will work together with the faculty member on research. If you are interested, check the Class and Lab to see who is offering Psych 396 and then go and talk with that professor.
- Summer Research: Various faculty do research with students over the summer. Sometimes this is a paid position; other times students have registered for it as a course.
Thanks to the generosity of psychology faculty, alums and families, there is an Endowment Fund of over $71,000 that is used to support the research of junior and senior psychology majors. Each year, those needing research support fill out grant request forms to receive support from the approximately $4,200 a year the Endowment Fund supplies.
You can apply to do research with faculty at another institutions. Ways to pursue this are:
- College of Behavioral & Community Sciences
The Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) at the University of South Florida is dedicated to research and education related to mental illness and related disorders. FMHI invites undergraduate students to apply for a highly selective Summer Research Institute.
- The American Psychological Association’s Summer Science Fellowship:
The American Psychological Association selects a small number of students to do research with nationally known psychologists over the summer, and the APA covers expenses and gives you a stipend. Only rising senior students are eligible (i.e., during the summer between your junior and senior years). For more information see www.apa.org/science/ssf.html.
- Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU’s):
National Science Foundation – Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Ethics and Values Studies
- Psychology Research Experience Program (PREP) - University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Psychology Research Experience Program (PREP) provides intensive mentoring and experience in scientific research and professional development to undergraduates from historically underrepresented populations – racial and ethnic students of color, low socio-economic status, and first-generation college students – who have expressed and demonstrated an interest in a career in scientific psychology. PREP features a balance of mentored laboratory research (approximately 30 hours/week) and a curriculum of scientific instruction, professional development and networking opportunities. It is supported by the National Science Foundation through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) mechanism. The PREP summer program is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Biological Basis of Human and Animal Behavior - Oklahoma State University
The goal of this program is to provide 12 undergraduate students with an in-depth, hands-on research experience focused on the biological basis of human and animal behavior. Students will be trained in the application of the scientific method to develop hypotheses, design and conduct research studies involving either animal or human subjects. Students will also be trained in the responsible conduct of research. Students will be mentored by full-time, Ph.D.-level faculty members who are tenured/tenure-track faculty with strong programs of research.
- Summer Science Fellowship - George Mason University
The APA Science Directorate is pleased to announce a partnership with the George Mason University Department of Psychology to host the 2011 Summer Science Fellowship program (SSF). SSF aims to immerse advanced undergraduate students in the science of psychology by exposing them to the excitement and promise of the best of psychological science. Our principal objective is to inform these students about the science of psychology and its promise for the future, and help prepare them for the rigors of graduate study in psychological science.
- The Labatory for Child Development - Johns Hopkins University
Each summer the Laboratory for Child Development at Johns Hopkins University offers a limited number of internships for college undergraduates, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Feigenson and Dr. Justin Halberda. Interns will gain experience with current techniques for investigating early knowledge, including measuring infants’ looking time to various scenes, measuring children’s reaching for hidden objects, and measuring children’s choices in simple experimental games. We are currently answering such questions as: -- How many objects can infants and young children keep track of and remember over time? -- What early numerical abilities do infants and young children have? -- How do toddlers and preschoolers reason through simple logic problems? -- How do young children learn the meanings of new words?