Jan 25, 2012

Senior Project

Senior Project can be confusing, stressful, and uneventful. However, it doesn't have to be that way- or at least, you can minimize those feelings by asking the right questions and completing the right tasks

Q: Who do I pick as an adviser? What does an adviser do?
A: Pick an adviser you:
         1) Get along with. There's nothing worse than working with someone you truly do not like even though you have similar research interests. Trust us, if you pick a professor you cannot stand you will most likely end up switching advisers (yes, it's possible to do so, but you'll be behind a quarter) or hating the work you thought you loved and probably end up with a poor grade. Taking a general course with them is a good indicator of what they expect from you.

         2) Has similar research interests. Say you get along well with both Dr. Edlund and Dr. difFonzo- great! They're both social psychologists, so it doesn't matter which you pick, right? WRONG. One specializes in rumor psychology, etc. and one specialized in mate value, forensic psych, etc.
Don't know what their interests are?  Find out!

        3) Realistically has time to mentor you. This is an important point! Many of our faculty bite off more than they can chew; don't let yourself be the bit that gets awkwardly choked down and paid little attention to. Ask whoever you are interested in what they expect out of you and be up front for what you need. If you need to meet more than once a week, need more help with writing a paper vs designing the experiment, let them know! It will help them- and you- in making the right decision.

Q: Senior Project doesn't really mean anything anyway, right?
A: Yes and no. It will only mean something if you want it to mean something. This provides a wonderful opportunity to get started on an undergraduate publication- which looks GREAT for graduate school. The Senior Project Poster Session can also go on your CV. It's also a chance for you to figure out if the whole 'research thing' is right for you.

Q: What's the time commitment?
A: That's up to you and your adviser. It's a four credit course, so plan that you should probably be setting work time aside four hours a week. In addition, you should be doing 3 hours for each credit you take (though we honestly don't know who does that). Both SP1 and SP2 are difficult in their own right. SP1 is a lot of background, design, and waiting for the IRB. SP2 is running participants (big time commitment there), figuring out SPSS, and creating a poster. Both have papers.

Here are links to two example syllabi:
Example 1
Example 2

More questions? Better answers?
Email us! ritPSS@gmail.com