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Research Opportunities

How can you get involved in Psychological research at SCSU?

There are a number of ways to receive course credit while gaining research experience. Click on each option to read more:

PSY 197, Research Internship

This is a pass/fail elective course where you will work with a professor on his/her ongoing research project. PSY 197 can be taken for 1, 2, or 3 credits, and can be repeated for up to 6 credits.  This is a great way to get started in research, and can lead to other opportunities. Typically, you will be expected to work 3 hours/week per credit, so 3 credits would require 9 hours/week on the project.

Your responsibilities in PSY 197 can vary depending on the project.  You might be involved in collecting data from undergraduate participants, you might enter data in a spreadsheet program, you might make behavioral measurements in an animal lab, or you might help conduct literature reviews and design experiments.

How do I find a faculty member to work with?
Which professors are currently accepting PSY 197 students can vary by semester.

You can review ongoing research projects, and directly contact professors who are doing research that interests you.  In addition, some faculty members will advertise that they are specifically looking for students, or may individually invite students from classes. Also, you can talk to your advisor and professors that you know; they may know of opportunities for you.

A space in PSY 197 is not guaranteed. Professors usually interview (or request information from) prospective 197 students. Some professors have prerequisite courses to work on their projects.

Signing up for PSY 197:
Once you have made plans to work with a professor, s/he should make clear what your responsibilities and time commitment will be. Make sure that your  schedule can accommodate your responsibilities.
The professor will need to enter a permission in Banner for you to add their section of the course. When you register, there will be a pull-down menu option for number of credits; make sure you select  the right number.

PSY 463, Field Practicum in Psychological Research

This is a field placement in research, meaning that you will work at an off-campus research setting. This could be a research lab at another university (such as Yale), an independent research laboratory or company, a biotechnology company, or a clinical setting or school where research or data collection is taking place (for example, a school psychologist's office).

PSY 463 is a 3-credit, pass/fail course, and is for students who have already taken PSY 393, Experimental Methods.  The expectations for the course are a total of 150 hours (10 hours/week) on site, and to create a portfolio summarizing the research experience.

PSY 463 (or PSY 467) is a requirement in the B.S. Psychology program, but the course is open to all qualified Psychology majors.

To find a field practicum placement, you should discuss it with your advisor or with one of the supervisors of the B.S. program (Drs. Carroll, Bordner, Irwin, Stiver, or Nizhnikov).

PSY 467 Laboratory Practicum in Psychological Research

This is a research practicum where you work with a Psychology professor at SCSU.  PSY 467 is a 3-credit, pass/fail course, and is for students who have already taken PSY 393, Experimental Methods.  The expectations for the course are a total of 150 hours (10 hours/week) working on the project, and to create a portfolio or report summarizing the research experience.

PSY 467 is similar to PSY 197, but involves a higher level of responsibility. Usually, students take PSY 467 as a follow-up to PSY 197 with a specific professor.

PSY 467 (or PSY 463) is a requirement in the B.S. Psychology program, but the course is open to all qualified Psychology majors. 

PSY 499 Independent Study

An independent study involves a self-directed work by a student under supervision of, and regular meetings with, a professor. It can be used for different purposes.

- Students can use an Independent Study to do in-depth readings on a particular topic (when we don't offer a course on the topic) and write a paper on the topic.

- Students can also use an Independent Study to conduct an individual research project with data collection or analysis of an existing data set. (This can be an alternative to an honors thesis if you only have one semester left at SCSU.)

To do an Independent Study, you need to:
1) Make arrangements with a professor who agrees to supervise your independent study.

2) Create a plan of study with the professor. This includes a list of goals for the project, readings (if applicable), a weekly schedule, expectations for the final report, and an explanation of how the professor will assign a grade.  You will need this for your request form.

3) Submit an Independent Study request form. This needs to be signed by your advisor, the department chair, and the Dean of Arts & Sciences.  These are carefully reviewed by the dean's office.   This form must be submitted to the Dean's office before the end of Add/Drop, so plan ahead accordingly (give your faculty mentor time to develop the proposal with you, give the chairperson time to review it, and plan on having to make revisions)

Once the Dean's office has approved the proposal, you will automatically be registered for PSY 499. (Note:  If you take more than 18 credits in a semester, you'll need to fill out a Petition for an Irregular Schedule.  If you are already registered for 16-18 credits and you submit an independent study form, you will need to drop a class or else submit the Petition form before you can be added to PSY 499.)

Honors thesis

All students in the Honors College are required to complete an honors thesis, but any student with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and a major GPA of at least 3.20 is can do a thesis project.  Honors thesis projects are challenging but very rewarding experiences, and are they are highly recommended for students planning to apply to Ph.D. programs.  Click here to read more about the Honors Thesis requirements.

An honors thesis is officially a two-semester process. First, students take HON 494, Honors Prospectus, in which they write their thesis proposal. Then, they take HON 495, Honors Thesis, in which they write and defend their final thesis.

For a Psychology thesis, we strongly advise students to begin planning their thesis in the semester before they take HON 494.  Here is a recommended timeline:

Prior semester:
• Discuss ideas with potential faculty advisors
• Do preliminary literature review on topic(s) of interest
• Make commitment with a faculty member to do thesis under his/her supervision
• Decide on research topic and make general plan for research design
• Begin comprehensive literature review

HON 494:
• Make a schedule for regular meeting times with your thesis advisor
• Develop research design
• Invite a faculty member to be second reader for your thesis committee
• Write prospectus:  Includes Introduction (literature review, research question, predictions), Planned Methods (Participants, Materials, Procedure), and Planned Analyses (statistical tests to be used).  Plan on writing the proposal in parts, and plan on multiple revisions with your faculty advisor.
• Prepare and submit IRB proposal (for human research) or IACUC proposal (for animal research)
• Submit prospectus to thesis committee
• After IRB approval, begin data collection  (See "Resources for researchers")
• Looking into applying for funding for your research.

HON 495:
• Make a schedule for regular meeting times with your thesis advisor
• Finish data collection
• Conduct statistical analyses; your faculty advisor should provide guidance
• Update Introduction and Methods; write Results and Discussion of final thesis. Again, plan on multiple revisions with your faculty advisor
• Submit final thesis to thesis committee
• Schedule your thesis defense
• Present your findings to your thesis committee