Western University PsychologyFaculty of Social Science

Tips for Seeking Out Volunteer Research Positions:

1. Before contacting someone, read one or two of that faculty member’s papers to familiarize yourself with the person’s research.  Do this using the search engine “PsycINFO” at: http://search.proquest.com/psycinfo/advanced?accountid=15115 .  You would have learned how to use this search engine in your Psych Research Methods course (Psych 2820E or 2800E).  If you need assistance, please consult the Reference Desk in D.B. Weldon Library. You may also find links to a professor’s research by going to the Psychology Faculty page at http://psychology.uwo.ca/people/faculty/fulltime.html , and clicking on the professor’s name.  This will either bring you a website that the professor has set up, or to one maintained by our department, in which case you click on the “PUBLICATIONS” tab.  Your doing this research beforehand would be taken as a sign of genuine interest rather than a random fishing expedition.

2. Carefully consider the number of hours per week that you’re able to commit to, and then stand by the commitment.  It is important that you be realistic as you do not want to commit over-optimistically at the beginning of the semester, and then fade away when course demands become heavy.  A volunteer’s dependability is critical for the efficient management of labs and research. 

3. It might make more sense to make contact with someone who knows your work (i.e., a prof who has had you in a course) than someone who doesn’t know you at all. In either case, it would be beneficial to provide a list of courses taken (and grades) to give the person a sense of your background and level of commitment to academic-related activities.

4. Plan for the future research opportunities (including thesis supervision) by taking courses with faculty whose research is of interest, and impressing them with your conscientiousness, as evidenced by regular attendance, thoughtful questions, and learning of the course material.

5. A listing of our full-time faculty can be found at http://psychology.uwo.ca/people/faculty/fulltime.html.  You may also, if you choose, find the names of cross-appointed faculty at http://psychology.uwo.ca/people/faculty/cross_adjunct.html. Some of our professor’s may be doing research that does not take place in an actual physical “lab”, but rather be work that can be conducted from the volunteer’s own laptop.