Tag Archives: Research

APAGS-CSOGD Chair Julia Benjamin reacts to receiving "Proud and Prepared."

APAGS Releases a Brand New Guide for LGBT Graduate Students

“Proud and Prepared: A Guide for LGBT Students Navigating Graduate Training” was printed in limited release last month, and is now available to all members and affiliates of APA for free download!

APAGS-CSOGD Chair Julia Benjamin reacts to receiving "Proud and Prepared."

APAGS-CSOGD Chair Julia Benjamin reacts to receiving a copy of “Proud and Prepared,” which her committee worked on tirelessly for several months.

This exclusive resource guide was produced by the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (CSOGD). Despite the popularity of the committee’s first edition — it had been downloaded and shared thousands of times — it was nine years old. The new guide places emphasis on more subgroups of the LGBT community and offers  broader discussion of this community’s modern training concerns. It also embeds dozens of in-depth quotes, pictures and candid perspectives from real students on a multitude of topics.

Authored by current graduate students from a diversity of backgrounds, training programs and viewpoints, “Proud and Prepared” aims to capture the energy and vitality of LGBT graduate students to the profession. Artistically, the guide was designed in-house by talented APA staff and showcases our dynamic content in a colorful 67-page package.

Go ahead and take a sneak peak

Check out some of Proud and Prepared’s awesome new sections:

  • Assessing Your Program’s Climate
  • Self-Disclosure in Graduate School
  • The Importance of Social Support
  • Mentorship and LGBT Students
  • Tips for Transgender or Gender Variant Students
  • Tips for Bisexual Graduate Students
  • LGBT Advocacy and Confronting Discrimination
  • Conducting LGBT Research
  • Resources for LGBT Students
  • APA’s Ethical Codes of Interest to LGBT Students

If you are looking for relevant information related to climate, mentorship, self-disclosure, research implications and much more, download the full guide (PDF, 3.3MB)  for further reading. Your APA Member login is required. If you are not a member, consider joining today.

Which advisor is right for you? (Source: "Professor Fink" by Profound Whatever on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Selecting your graduate advisor and lab: Details matter

Which advisor is right for you? (Source: "Professor Fink" by Profound Whatever on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Which advisor is right for you? (Source: “Professor Fink” by Profound Whatever on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

A previous blog post by Drs. Ameen and El-Ghoroury made some excellent points about the graduate school decision. In this post I will share a few in-depth strategies about selecting an advisor for a research-oriented doctoral program.

I was extremely lucky to find an advisor like Dr. Jennifer Vonk, but you probably want to minimize the influence of luck on your experience. After listening to many cases of relinquished doctoral students, I realized that in many ways, applying to work with your advisor is a gamble. Here is a person who is primarily responsible for your career, yet you know very little about them.

The points I mention here are based on my experiences and conversations with undergraduate students over the years.

First, the structure of admissions to a research-intensive graduate program is quite different from a typical undergraduate admissions process. Your standardized test scores and academic accomplishments are important, but what ultimately matters is what you are able to bring to the lab and to the program. Therefore, during your program research, it can be useful to consider where you would fit in the best based on your best qualities.

Second, shortlisting potential programs from a broad database like Graduate Study in Psychology is just the beginning. Be prepared to start focusing on the seemingly minute details – current and past research produced by your advisor’s lab, for example – which will make a huge impact on your experience. These details can be found by combing through the CVs and recent publications of prospective advisors.  As you to do your homework, check on these particular variables:

  1. How frequently they publish: If you are not fully aware of this factor, you may end up being surprised or disappointed after you join the lab. The publication frequency (along with the quality) usually indicates their general research activity level, and might provide hints in terms of what they expect from their students.
  2. The quality of journals they usually publish in: Generally speaking, journals with higher impact-factors publish better research (details are a bit too complex for this post). APA has its own journal database where you can read more on each of their journals (and their impact factors). You can also gauge the impact of non-APA journals through some basic online research.
  3. How often they include graduate students as co-authors: This is an important factor because to be a successful researcher you need to have something to show for your work. Advisors usually have their own criteria for authorship such as who came up with the most important idea, or who worked the most of the project, and so forth. In case you are not sure how authorship is decided, or how frequently their graduate students are publishing, these may be important questions to bring up during your interview.
  4. The research interests of other students in the lab: Your lab-mates might be the ones you spend most of your time around. They can be quite influential in your work in terms of your class discussions, research collaborations and your lab’s focus. Reading about previous students in the lab, you can gauge what types of topics the lab usually handles and how flexible the research focus might be.
  5. The thematic aspect of multiple research papers: If you really want to know what your advisor likes, dislikes, finds interesting, or is strongly opinionated about, you need to go through their research publications in detail. If you go through several of their papers, you can find out which theories they like or dislike, what arguments they find compelling or weak, and what are their general views on their subject of interest. While research papers won’t tell you everything you need to know about an advisor’s interpersonal qualities, doing this review might stave off a complete falling-out between student and advisor.

These are some (of the many) points that prospective applicants to research-oriented doctoral programs in psychology are often unaware of, but can have a huge impact on their academic careers. Taking these into consideration may significantly lower your likelihood of facing unwanted surprises or disappointments in your new program and lab.

 

Chinmay Aradhye

Editor’s note: Chinmay Aradhye is a third-year student in the Experimental Psychology PhD. program, Department of Psychology, Oakland University. He is also the APAGS Michigan State Advocacy Coordinator.  Contact him at caradhye@oakland.edu.

 

Funding Opportunity for Grad Students! Basic Psychological Science Research Grant

Are you conducting psychological science research and need additional funding for your study?  The APAGS Basic Psychological Science Research Grant provides financial support for direct costs associated with psychological science research studies conducted by graduate students.

Graduate students in the following science-oriented fields are encouraged to apply:

  • Cognitive,
  • Cognitive Neuroscience,
  • Computational, Developmental,
  • Experimental or Comparative,
  • Industrial/Organizational,
  • Neuropsychology,
  • Neuroscience,
  • Perception and Psychophysics,
  • Personality and Individual Differences,
  • Psycholinguistics,
  • Physiological,
  • Quantitative,
  • Social, and
  • Clinical Science

Students in fields with a practice component are eligible, but they must focus solely on their scientific research in their application materials.

In addition, there is new funding for the grant specifically designated for those conducting diversity-related research.  APAGS is offering up to 3 awards for $1,000 to fund diversity-related research project if you apply for a Basic Psychological Science Grant.  APAGS defines diversity according to APA’s Multicultural Guidelines (2002): Diversity “refer[s] to individuals’ social identities including age, sexual orientation, [gender and gender identity], physical disability, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, workplace role/position, religious and spiritual orientation, and work/family concerns.”

Eligibility caveats:

  • Undergraduates are not eligible to apply for these grants/awards, nor are current or former APAGS Committee members, subcommittee chairs and task force chairs.
  • Former APAGS subcommittee members or ad hoc reviewers who have previously reviewed this grant are not eligible.
  • Previous recipients of each grant/award are not eligible to apply again for a period of five years.

Read more and apply online by December 3!  For specific questions, contact APAGS or Alexa Lopez!

Overcoming 3 Common Dissertation Pitfalls

Most students find writing the dissertation to be the most daunting aspect of graduate school. When it comes to the dissertation, they feel overwhelmed and ill equipped, they doubt their abilities, and many give up before finishing. So challenging is the dissertation, that some have estimated that as many as 50% of graduate students are ABD (“all but dissertation”), which means students leave graduate school having met all requirements except the dissertation.

But it does not have to be this way!
Based on my many years of experience or working with doctoral students, I have discovered that there are some very common pitfalls and misconceptions about the dissertation that cut across nearly all graduate students and block their dissertation progress. The good news is that these problems are all fixable! Due to space limitations, in the rest of this blog, I briefly highlight 3 problems students frequently encounter and provide tips on overcoming them. For more detailed information on these and other common problems and tips, or for individualized assistance, contact me (tamara@thedisscoach.com).
Problem 1: “I’m too busy to write.”

Graduate students are notoriously busy! In addition to working on their dissertations, students in the PhD clinical psychology program where I teach also have to juggle taking classes, studying, teaching classes, seeing clients, conducting other research, writing journal articles, preparing conference presentations, and their personal interests and responsibilities. It’s a tall order; who has time to write! Actually there is more time than you might think. Graduate students (like everyone else) waste a lot of time that could be spent writing. Some time wasters are obvious such as time spent on facebook or checking email. But some time wasters are not as obvious.

  • Examples given by graduate students I talked to are time spent organizing articles, organizing one’s workspace, and preparing to write. Getting organized is important, but spending too much time on it leaves very little, if any, time for actual writing. A solution is to first create a daily grid and keep track of how you spend your time so that you become aware of what your time wasters are and how much time you waste.
  • Next, get rid of the obvious time wasters such as email and facebook by making their use contingent upon meeting your writing goals. Get rid of the subtle time wasters by scheduling organization time into your calendar as separate from your scheduled writing time. This ensures you devote adequate time to organizing, but when it’s time to write, organizing ends. If you lapse into your favorite time wasters when you are supposed to be writing, stop yourself! Remember that you have other places in your schedule for those activities so carefully guard your writing time and only do writing during writing time.

Problem 2: Many graduate students mistakenly believe that they cannot begin writing until they are able to have an extended period (say 2 hours) of uninterrupted time to devote to writing.

Since they rarely have such large blocks of time in their schedules, the result is that weeks (and months) go by and students never begin writing, believing that they did not have enough time. Research shows that those who write in shorter spurts of time are more productive than those who write in binges and they tend to find writing more enjoyable. The solution is to change your thinking and start writing in 30-minute blocks of time. Why 30 minutes?

  • Because most people can find 30-minute blocks in their schedules. Decide in advance which specific section of your project you will work on so that when the time for writing comes, you can get started right away (rather than spending your 30-minute writing time getting organized). Write as much as you can and when the time is up, stop writing. If you write for 30 minutes every day, by the end of a week, you will have spent 3 hours writing! If you wait for a 3-hour block of time to appear in your schedule, by the end of a week, you will have spent 0 hours writing!

Problem 3: Mismanagement of negative emotions. Working on the dissertation is often associated with negative thoughts (e.g., “I am incompetent,” “they made a mistake admitting me into this program”) and negative emotions (e.g., fear, anxiety).

These thoughts and feelings, if not managed properly, feed on one another and result in behaviors that are self-sabotaging. Take procrastination as an example. I had a student with lots of negative thoughts and emotions associated with his dissertation that would overwhelm him every time he tried to work on it, so rather than work on his dissertation he would over commit to other activities (e.g., teaching, taking on more clients, household chores). These activities allowed him to avoid his fears and insecurities while still feeling like he was busy doing important work that had to get done. While procrastination provides temporary relief from unwanted thoughts and feelings, the problem is these avoidance tactics prevent students from making progress on their dissertations, and that lack of progress fuels even more negative thoughts and feelings which lead to more procrastination; a vicious cycle. A solution is to recognize how your behaviors, especially those that interfere with your dissertation, are influenced by your thoughts and feelings. Applying principles of cognitive and cognitive-behavioral theory are helpful in this regard.
These are just 3 of the most common pitfalls graduate students experience while trying to complete their dissertations. There are others that are common and some that are unique to particular situations. Regardless of the problem you are having, the solution is to get active in figuring out the problem and what to do about it. If you have tried to do that and it is not working, there are other options such as seeking the assistance of a dissertation coach. Dissertation coaches can be particularly helpful if you have spent an inordinate amount of time spinning your wheels on your dissertation rather than making real progress, if your dissertation chairperson is not providing the guidance and support you need, or if you are at the beginning of your dissertation and you want someone to help you get set up for the road ahead. A dissertation coach can help you devise strategies and step-by-step plans to keep you making steady progress.

Editor’s note: This post was written by Tamara L. Brown, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Psychology; University of Kentucky. It originally appeared on the Multicultural Mentoring blog by the Society of Clinical Psychology’s Section on the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities. (APA Division 12, Section 6). It is reposted here with generous permission. Over time, you will see all eight original posts on gradPSYCH Blog.

 

Research – Get Involved!

Getting involved in research is an important and often necessary way to get prepared for graduate school in psychology. Research opportunities are usually available as long as you know where to look. Every year numerous students ask me questions about research opportunities – I hope this helps our blog readers better understand how to navigate this process.

Where to look for research opportunities

A great place to begin looking is your academic department’s website. I always encourage my students to read the faculty members’ profiles on our department’s website. This will help you get an idea of the research interests of your faculty. Decide which faculty members’ interests best match your interests. Then email the faculty member asking if you can meet with them to discuss their research and ways you might be able to get involved. Some faculty members will let you know they are not currently accepting any new students to their labs, other faculty members might not have research teams but might be willing to collaborate on a project with you. Some will immediately invite you to the next research team meeting, and some will schedule a meeting for you to come in and discuss your interests and determine your fit to the team.

  • If for some reason you are not able to join a research team with one of your department’s faculty, don’t hesitate to look outside of your department. I have a large research team of 15 students and half of these students are not from my department. If you plan to pursue research opportunities outside of your department you would do so similarly to how I’ve described looking for research opportunities in your department: think about fields of study you are interested in, go to that department’s website to read about faculty research interests, and then email faculty members.

Why finding research experience is important

Research is very important to the field of psychology. Psychologists are consumers of research, as our clinical work is influenced by research findings. Psychologists are also researchers, as research is the force that propels the field forward. Considering that research is important to the field, it is an important aspect of graduate training. If you plan to apply to graduate school in psychology, research experience helps graduate programs assess your preparedness for graduate training. Your involvement on a research team demonstrates your authentic interest in research and it suggests that you have more advanced skills than students who do not have research team experience. When reviewing doctoral applications for admission to the doctoral program I work in, I am always evaluating the applicant’s previous research experience.

So now that you know that getting involved in research is an important thing to do, you might be wondering what you will be getting yourself into. Being an active member on a research team can be very rewarding (I promise!).

  • First, something that should not be discounted, you gain exposure to the research process. I have found that some students have misconceptions about what research is and conclude that they are not interested in research because of this misinformation. In reality, research is very exciting, intellectually stimulating, and a strong vehicle for promoting social justice (get involved to find out how)!
  • Secondly, you can gain training and firsthand experience on how to conduct a research study from start to finish. You learn how to design a study (e.g., create research questions and hypotheses, select measures, review literature, etc.). You can gain experience in data collection, data entry, data analyses, manuscript writing, grant writing, and presenting research in public forums and at professional conferences.

If you are an undergraduate…Fundamentally, participation on a research team provides exposure to the research process. Having a history of participation in research gives you a strong background for entrance to graduate school. Participation on a research team also provides a way to network with professors. These professors will be great candidates to write letters of recommendation for graduate school or future employment.

If you are a master’s student…Research experience will be helpful when you conduct your own independent research (i.e., master’s thesis). Research team experience also helps you compete for entry in doctoral programs that have a scientist-practitioner model of training. Admissions to doctoral level graduate programs typically involve an assessment of your research interests and skills. Applicants are typically asked to talk about their research experience, and what they did specifically on past research teams. Participation in research with professors other than your advisor is a great way to learn alternate views of what research looks like, and is a great way to ensure strong letters of recommendation for future endeavors.

If you are a doctoral student…Research experience prepares you for your doctoral thesis, and helps an advanced student learn how to go about assembling her own research team to gather dissertation data. Research experience also helps in the realm of professional development by giving doctoral students the opportunity to present research at professional conferences and participate in the publication of manuscripts in scholarly journals. Research team experience prepares the soon-to-be-academic for assembly of their own research team once tenure track employment begins (there is life after grad-school)!

My hope is that you are thinking about research and how you can (need) to get involved. Involvement in research is critical in shaping the next generation of researchers – you!

Editor’s note: This post was written by Shannon Chavez-Korell, PhD; Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It originally appeared on the Multicultural Mentoring blog by the Society of Clinical Psychology’s Section on the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities. (APA Division 12, Section 6). It is reposted here with generous permission. Over time, you will see all eight original posts on gradPSYCH Blog.