Research Experience

Psychology is the scientific study of brain and behaviour. Understanding how psychologists conduct research is integral to learning about psychology as a discipline. Students will receive training in statistics and research methods as part of their degree requirements, but many students also want to augment their degree requirements with research experiences outside of the classroom.

These experiences often help students to explore the discipline of psychology, to develop transferable skills, to interact more closely with faculty members, and to identify possible goals for their later career or post-graduate training. Having research experience outside of the degree requirements can contribute to the success of students applying to graduate programs as well as students entering the workforce.

Who should participate?

Students in all of our undergraduate programs and streams benefit from gaining research experience outside of the classroom.

Students who are in first and second year may find that being a research participant is a fun and effective way to gain exposure to different areas of psychology. This exposure will help them make decisions about which stream to pursue and their long-term goals. Participating in research is an excellent way for everyone to explore the wide variety of topics that psychologists study and the variety of methodologies that they use.

In third and fourth year, students may wish to volunteer in research labs or complete directed readings courses. These experiences add to the already rich research training built into the Honours Research Stream and give students in the Honours Comprehensive Stream options to gain experience required for graduate school applications.

What Options Are Available and When Should I Start?

Students can participate in research studies, complete Directed Readings/Independent Study courses, and volunteer or work in a lab.

In several courses, extra credit can be earned by students who serve as research participants in various studies being conducted in our department. Students do not have to limit themselves to completing the minimum number of hours/studies required for a course; it can be fun to try out different studies to learn more about psychology and research in general.

You can view available studies on our website.

The Department of Psychology offers 5 different options for directed readings courses: PSYC 3P48, 3P49, 4F05, 4P10 and 4P11. Depending on the particular course, a student may undertake a review of research literature or conduct an empirical research study.

Students who are interested in a directed readings course are encouraged to meet with an academic advisor to talk about which course would be best suited to them. Note, however, that enrollment in a directed readings course requires the approval of a faculty member who is willing to supervise the student. Therefore, the first step to completing a directed readings course is to find a supervisor who is doing research that you find particularly interesting.

Students can contact faculty members directly to ask if they would be willing to supervise a directed readings project. If a faculty member indicates willingness, then the student and faculty member will discuss exactly what the course will entail.

More information about how to register for directed readings courses can be found on the PSYC-Site (bottom of the page).

Many faculty members have volunteer opportunities and some even have paid positions available to undergraduate students. Students who volunteer or do paid work in research labs will help with such tasks as recruiting research participants, conducting literature searches, conducting data collection sessions with participants, and helping to analyze data. Through this activity, students can gain valuable transferable skills in project management, organization, teamwork, and collaboration. They can also gain experience directly related to research ethics, research methods and procedures, and data analysis, as well as an in-depth knowledge of specific topics in psychology.

Students can review the information about faculty research interests and contact any faculty members whose research they find interesting to ask about volunteer or paid opportunities. Although students are encouraged to do a moderate amount of volunteer or paid work in research labs, they are also reminded to allocate enough time for their coursework.