A continuing goal of the department is to offer significant original research opportunities for declared majors and minors, working closely one-on-one or in small collaborative groups with members of the faculty.
Why Do Research?
Research is a great way of developing and learning new skills. It is an opportunity to acquire experiences that would not be possible to gain any other way. Participating in research allows you to learn about topics in a more complex and practical manner, which cannot be obtained simply from reading a book. These forms of experiences can come from working independently or from being part of a collaboration.
Being involved in research also allows you to develop professional relationships, and is a great way of obtaining mentoring. Your role is simply to acquire the most you can from your research opportunities. Working with faculty on their research not only benefits them, but also serves you well in developing your own research interests. It allows you to see what you are most interested in and how you can further develop these interests. Understanding how to successfully conduct research here at Smith is a valuable and rewarding experience.
Obtaining Psychology Research Experience at Smith
Take a Laboratory Psychology Course
Research experience can be obtained by taking a laboratory course in any of the areas of psychology. By taking a laboratory course, you'll learn about the steps needed to conduct a research study. This is a great way of obtaining research experience while also earning course credit.
Volunteer in a Faculty Member's Lab
Sometimes faculty do not have paid positions available, but do welcome students who are willing to volunteer in their labs. Volunteering in a faculty's lab can help you become familiarized with different aspects of research (e.g., assisting in running experimental sessions, conference presentations, etc.). Most faculty members only require that you are motivated to learn from them, and assist them with different aspects of conducting the research they need to conduct.
Undertake an Independent Study
Students can earn upper-division credits for participating in a Special Studies or Honors Thesis project with a member of the faculty. To do so, it is advisable to approach a faculty member early in your college career, take courses that will be valuable for completing your own project (e.g., Advanced Stats) and work with that faculty member in some ongoing research capacity.
Become a Paid Research Assistant
All active faculty in the department have ongoing research programs. Each year, faculty presents new findings at national and international meetings of learned societies and publishes copiously in scholarly journals. We are eager to involve our majors and premajors in our research. It is a valuable opportunity to learn at first hand the technical skills of doing research in psychology, the methods of processing findings, and the style of preparing manuscripts and posters for publication and presentation. These positions are generally paid prevailing rates for student assistants.
Become a Paid Summer Research Fellow
Every summer, the Clark Science Center awards summer research fellowships, which provide students the opportunity to work with faculty on their research while also receiving a stipend. Faculty members usually take on fellows if they have had them in a class or have worked with them in some sort of prior research context. Students should seek this opportunity by talking with faculty about their interest in such a program. A call for application submissions is announced every spring, so students should be looking out for this opportunity early in the spring semester. This allows sufficient time to talk to a faculty member and then submit a cogent proposal.