PhD/PsyD Master's Thesis

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by clinicalpsych13, 05.20.14.

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  1. clinicalpsych13

    clinicalpsych13

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    Just out of curiosity.. when graduate students develop their own research project, such as their master thesis, how do they set up things like method? Especially grad students who are only first or second year of their grad school. How are they supposed to know what system and method they need to use?

    Do they develop their project based on professor's available data? If so, is it usually a collaboration with their professors?

    Any information would be helpful.
    Thansk!
     
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  3. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

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    There's going to be a lot of variability from lab to lab, but in general, the grad student is going to do most or all of the "heavy lifting" with respect to methodology design independently. You'll have varying amounts of help from your advisor, who may propose an area of study, help refine your research questions, etc., but it often ends up being your project.

    That's the idea behind the masters thesis--to give folks what is often their first true shot at designing and implementing a study from beginning to end. At least in my experience, as compared to the dissertation, with a thesis the emphasis is less on the actual outcome/results and more on the process. If things don't pan out with significant findings, at least in my program, that was ok--you just needed to be able to think through and rationalize why not, as well as to show that you were capable of properly designing and conducting research.

    As for other research projects, again, it's going to vary from one advisor to another and one project to another. Sometimes you'll be helping with your professor's pre-existing work, and others you'll be creating your own studies nearly independently.
     
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  4. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Like AA said, lot's of variability. In my cohort, some of the students used pre-existing datasets. I collected my own data. The best way to learn to do research is to slog through it. By the end, you'll probably hate your project, mainly because you are painfully aware of all of the mistakes you made. But, in the end, it's through those mistakes that you learn how to do things better on the next project. I also totally agree, I feel like you have more leeway on the thesis as opposed to dissertation.

    As far as professorial help. They should be there to gently guide you, but almost all of the planning/implementation/execution is on you. This is what you got into grad school for, embrace it.
     
  5. clinicalpsych13

    clinicalpsych13

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    Thanks for the information. One more question if you don't mind..
    For the very first year, do graduate students have to create and set up their independent research right away? Or do they have time to think and learn about research? (When I say time I meant first or two semesters). Also I know both ph.D and master students have to write thesis paper and curious if there are some differences.

    How many independent research projects usually need to be done before actual master's thesis? Or number doesn't matter?

    Thanks!
     
  6. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Can't really say. All grad programs have slightly different timelines on when they expect things. I had to have my master's thesis collected, analyzed, and defended by March of my second year. Also, master's students do a thesis, doctorates do a dissertation.
     
  7. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

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    This. It's going to vary by program and by lab. For some, you may only be slightly involved in research prior to initiating your thesis, or your advisor may have you start thinking about your thesis from day one; in other labs, you may be expected to immediately start participating in ongoing studies, and use that experience to begin devising your thesis ideas. I've never heard of a requisite number of independent research projects to be completed prior to beginning thesis work, but that's not to say such requirements don't exist.

    As for the type of thesis a doctoral student would write en route to their dissertation (and, as WisNeuro pointed out, which would of course occur well before the dissertation) vs. a masters student as their terminal project, I honestly don't know. I'd imagine they're fairly similar, but it's probably going to vary a great deal across programs. I know my doctoral program, for example, required that incoming students who'd completed masters theses elsewhere have their work reviewed to be sure it was of appropriate caliber/depth; if so, they could then have their thesis requirement waived.
     
  8. clinicalpsych13

    clinicalpsych13

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    Thank you so much both of you! This was very helpful :)
     

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