Want to Get Involved in Research? Try these Tips!

Interested in getting involved in research? Here are some tips for getting started in research, which is a great way to learn more about psychology, develop your interests, and gain valuable experience! Opportunities to be involved in research can be exciting ways to explore your interests in psychology while gaining a variety of research skills and contributing to cutting-edge studies. Many students wonder how to approach professors or go about the process of getting involved. Here are some tips that can help you to find a research opportunity.

  •  One way to start is by identifying professors or labs whose research interests you. Visit websites of faculty members in your department, look up articles that professors have published (e.g., with PubMed or Google Scholar), or think about whether you have been particularly inspired by a professor that you might have taken a class with.
  •  Ask around! Often times graduate students or fellow undergrads will know of labs seeking research assistants, or they might be able to recommend people to contact.
  •  Read the bulletin board postings in your department. Many labs will post ads when they are seeking research help. Don’t be afraid to contact them for more information!
  •  Subscribe to listservs or visit career counseling at your institution. Lots of times they will know of fellowships or opportunities to get involved for undergraduates, such as summer research programs.
  •  Stop by office hours – take some time to get to know your professors or TAs better. Office hours can be a great time to introduce yourself or gather more information about possible research opportunities.
  •  Visit research fairs! Some universities have research fairs where representatives from various labs offer information about opportunities to get involved.
  •  Email professors, graduate students, or TAs to see if you could help out with their research. Taking this initiative is often the first step to gaining research experience!
  •  When you email, briefly describe why you’re interesting in working with them and ask if you might be able to assist. It’s also helpful to include a resume or CV and to mention if you’ve had any prior experience. Even if you don’t have any previous research experience, a willingness to work hard and be responsible is valuable!
  •  Read a couple of articles that your professor has published. This shows that you are interested and can also be a great way to think through your own research interests and to spark new ideas.
  •  Be open-minded! Even research on a topic that might not be your particular area of interest can be extremely helpful. You will likely gain valuable skills that you can apply in other research settings, and it never hurts to have additional experience.
  • Finally, be creative and don’t give up – there are lots of ways to get involved!