Question about Directed Study

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by mandyjoy, 05.14.14.

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  1. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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  3. Icculus8

    Icculus8 2+ Year Member

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    No one on the internet is going to be able to predict what the professor will think. Have you considered asking her for advice? In my experience, many are willing to be flexible with credit if you have demonstrated you are a good worker and good research assistant. Some professors are hesitant to take on purely volunteers, as the course credit provides some degree of accountability for the work agreed upon.

    Also, simply having +/- 1 research credit on your transcript is not going to make or break your application, the more important thing you can gain is the proper experience of conducting psychological research. Try to learn as much as you can, and if appropriate, try to get involved with the dissemination of results, such as presenting a poster at a local conference, or helping as a co-author for a poster or other presentation.
     
  4. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    Professor's are not paid on commision from the registrar, just to be clear. :)

    And I agree with the other comment about something so miniscule as handing out surveys/questionairres would make a difference one way or the other. What are you learning from that anyway?
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  5. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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  6. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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  7. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

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    It's not so much the number (although overall time spent involved it the projects is important up to a point) as it is your actual duties. As erg mentioned, if "giving the experiments" means that your entire role is comprised of handing out questionnaires, the experience won't be as valued or valuable as if you're more actively engaged in the process (e.g., administering measures during the actual experiment, coding data, attending meetings/discussions on experimental ideas and data analysis even if you aren't directly doing those things yourself, etc.).
     
  8. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    Well, yea. But so does being tall, slender, and having clear skin. "Looks good" should not be equated to mean that it helps you achive a certain end goal...

    The content of whatever you did in that "directed study" are what professors are going to care about.
     
  9. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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    I can't force her to put my name on one of her projects. She doesn't even do that for grad students. All I was asked to do was give out the experiment, which is on a computer.
     
  10. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    I am not sure who that was in response to, but nobody ever suggested any such thing. If you are interested in the ethics of publication credit, see here. http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx?item=11

    Meaningful research experience that I would look for in students would include learning how to do data entry and use of statistical programs, how to do and organize literaure search information, how to examine data, how to organize and extract meaning/conclusions from qualitative or quantiative data.
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  11. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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  12. Icculus8

    Icculus8 2+ Year Member

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    I am not really sure what you are asking anymore.

    If you have asked if there are opportunities to get involved and she has not offered any, then unfortunately the fact remains handing out surveys or starting an experiment on a computer will be less valuable than being more involved in additional aspects of the research process. You mentioned being involved in an independent project? I am assuming you have a faculty mentor for that? It sounds like you may want to talk further with that faculty member about how to go about gaining additional experience (like presenting a poster at a regional conference, that is one great way to show your ability to conduct and disseminate research, which it sounds like you are already pursuing).
     
  13. Ollie123

    Ollie123 7+ Year Member

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    I'm a bit confused too.

    RE: Directed study, I don't think anyone will care about whether or not it is on your transcript. Some faculty require students do it for a variety of reasons (accountability of the students, university regulations, etc.). Whether it is listed on your transcript or not is unlikely to matter to graduate schools.

    As far as getting experience with other things - have you asked? That would be step one. Though before that I'd do some self-assessment and think about if are you REALLY ready/capable of helping with that aspect of the research. At least here, it is exceedingly rare for undergrads here to be included as an author on projects and is only done in cases where it is definitely earned. I have supervised at least 50 RAs in my time and there are only 3-4 I felt were sufficiently prepared to try the "next level" of activities as you mentioned. Even given these were the top 10% of RAs (who were already the top candidates selected from interviews selected from the top candidates who applied who were already generally a step up from the "typical" undergrad psych major), mentoring them on these projects required a massive amount of my time for it to be done properly. Few faculty have the time to do that unless a truly convincing case is made that investment in the person/project is worthwhile. I've had plenty of undergrads who expressed a desire to get on posters/publications who were clearly in it for the line on their CV, had done nothing to prove themselves and therefore had precisely zero chance of me allowing them to get involved in that capacity.

    I obviously have no way of knowing what the case is in your situation, I'm just throwing this out there for you to think about. Generally speaking, most folks I know only let undergrads take on independent projects with their data after about a year of proving themselves in that lab, getting familiar with projects/procedures, building trust, etc. Folks who express a desire in doing so but still make mistakes with basic tasks (data entry errors, protocol deviations, even minor mistakes w/ things like scheduling, etc.) I won't even consider allowing to do more. This may not be the case, but your posts seem to suggest an expectation that the professor will hand you something like that to work on - I'd approach it more as "What do you have to do to prove to them you are ready for it". This takes time. Many people work in multiple labs before getting to that stage and it is usually a gradual process within the lab even then.
     
  14. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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    Exactly. I hope everyone on this thread reads this and understands.
     
  15. Ollie123

    Ollie123 7+ Year Member

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    Now I'm even more confused. Aren't you the OP? Are you trying to say you have done all this and the professor has told you no? That you agree you aren't ready to take on that level of responsibility yet? Neither seems to match up with what you said in your earlier posts.
     
  16. mandyjoy

    mandyjoy

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    Yes, I am the OP. I want the other people who commented on this thread to read what you wrote because they were telling me I need to do more "meaningful" research, but it is not in my control.
     
  17. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-VA 7+ Year Member

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    I strongly disagree. It is common place for students, even in undergrad, to have obtained the types of experiences I discussed, especially data entry and working knowledge of statistical software.

    Obviously, one of the draw backs of attending a school with relatively weak research programs is that one must seek the experiences outside the department (you chose to attend this school, btw), The option to attempt to do such is indeed well within your control. Doesn't mean its easy though.
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  18. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

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    We were suggesting it as a way of refining our responses to your question. The question was whether or not a directed study credit would look good on your transcript, and the answer is, "it depends." Some research experience will look better than none, but not all research experience is created equal. It's true that you only have so much control over the situation of what your current professor will allow; if the professor is adamantly opposed to offering it, then they aren't going to offer it. But knowing what's attractive from the admissions end can help you identify/search out matching opportunities either in other labs at your school, or in places outside of the university. And hey, who knows--as Ollie was suggesting, if you demonstrate that you can consistently do excellent work, maybe the professor will decide to start allowing you additional responsibilities.
     
  19. Ollie123

    Ollie123 7+ Year Member

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    I think you might have missed my point, which was that you MIGHT have some control over the situation. Have you been doing everything possible to prove yourself and going way above and beyond the call of duty, making suggestions for improvements, bringing up meaningful scientific issues, etc.? Have you been doing so for at least a full semester, preferably a year? If yes, have you asked for new tasks or opportunities to progress to the next level?

    I agree with the posters above that what you are doing isn't the best experience. I disagree that the issue is necessarily that the "labs suck" and you have no control over the situation. My whole post was about how the students DO have some control to influence the situation. You may not be able to change things immediately, but you need to take strides and be patient. What you described is probably what RAing is like for 80-90% of people. I didn't do much more than that my first semester of research, but I did it damn well, was always looking for (and finding) ways to do it better and climbed the ladder. The onus is not on the professor to hand you opportunities just because you signed up for one credit in their lab, the onus is on you to prove to them it is in THEIR best interest to do so.
     
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