How do I start getting involved in psychological research?
Doing research is one of the most exciting and educational aspects of being a psychology student at Bucknell. The following information is designed to help you figure out how to obtain experience in research in the Department of Psychology. Involvement in research as an undergraduate is very important, especially if you want to pursue a career in psychology, and the earlier you start, the more experience you can get.
The best preparation for getting involved in research is to have taken PSYC 100 (General Psychology) and PSYC 215 (Psychological Statistics). PSYC 100 will give you an idea about the range of topics that psychologists investigate, and PSYC 215 will give you some of the technical tools used frequently in research. As a psychology major, you will take two laboratory courses, and these will also equip you with important skills in research methods. However, if you plan to pursue psychology at the graduate level, you are best advised to get involved in research over and above the two lab courses. In some cases, you could start as early as your sophomore year.
- As a first step, you can take a look at the descriptions of faculty interests and research areas in the Faculty and Staff section of this website. If you see a topic on the front page of this section (the one with all of the individual photos of us) that interests you, then click on the professor’s name. That will take you to another page, containing more specific information about that person’s courses and recent research. We recommend that you look at the descriptions of everyone’s research, before deciding on the one(s) in which you’re most interested.
- After you’ve discovered a professor whose research interests you, get in touch with them. You can do this by sending an email message, calling or leaving a voicemail message, or by showing up at their office door during their office hours. Tell them that you’re interested in getting involved in research, and that you’d like to know about opportunities to do so with them. It may help to know that professors like nothing better than to hear that others are interested in what they do.
- Sometimes a professor will have taken on all of the students they can handle during a given semester or year. Or they may be getting ready to go on leave or sabbatical, and thus may not be available for a research experience. If that’s the case, then approach another professor. You can learn a lot from involvement in any research project. Skills in research usually generalize across sub-disciplinary contexts. And students sometimes work on research with more than one professor during their time at Bucknell.
- Good luck! If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with any faculty member in the department. We’ll be happy to chat with you about getting involved in research.