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Rationale. Psychology majors who plan on continuing their education beyond BYU-Idaho will quickly learn that competition for graduate programs is fierce. While GPA and test scores are certainly important factors in determining graduate school admission, more and more programs of all types are looking for students with some research experience. This is particularly true of clinical psychology and experimental psychology graduate programs. Many institutions of higher education offer a number of opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research with graduate students or even professors. These opportunities can often lead to a presentation at a research conference or even a publication before earning the bachelor's degree. Unfortunately, (as is the case at many bachelor's granting schools) such opportunities at BYU-Idaho are few and far between. Faculty teaching loads and other responsibilities often preclude conducting the kinds of research with which students can be involved. BYU-Idaho is primarily a TEACHING institution rather than a RESEARCH institution. For this reason, the psychology faculty has, over the course of the past few years, been working to provide interested students with the research experience so important to their education and so critical for admission to many graduate programs. The solution has been to assist students in planning and carrying out their own research projects. The purpose of this policy is to outline for the psychology major at BYU-Idaho the ways in which this can be done.
Prerequisites. First and foremost, no psychology major at BYU-Idaho may conduct a research project until they have taken three classes: FdMath 223 (Statistics), Psy 302 (Research Methods) and Psy 485 (Experiencing Research Capstone). The Research Methods class is designed to help you develop a research proposal that could later on be conducted as a study. Even if you do not opt to conduct the study that you propose, these classes are important preparation for personal research projects. However, please be aware, that upper level students conducting research projects may be recruiting students from the freshman and sophomore classes to assist with their projects. There is no need to have taken the classes mentioned in order to provide this assistance. However, this assistance should involve fairly simple activities such as assisting in data collection, participant recruitment, or data entry.
Research Mentoring. No psychology major can conduct a research project in psychology without a psychology faculty member as the mentor. In addition, because of the large number of psychology majors and the small number of faculty, students will not be allowed to conduct more than two research studies during their time at BYU-Idaho. Those students majoring in Industrial/Organizational Psychology MAY have the opportunity to participate in a total of three research studies as will be explained below. However, all students will be required to conduct at least one research project before they graduate. See the two items below for further explanation:
1. All psychology majors who entered into the program fall of 2013 will be required to take Psychology 485 (Experiencing Research). This class is a capstone class that only Juniors and Seniors will be allowed to register for. The purpose of this class is to provide ALL psychology majors a means by which they can experience the research process. Many of the students in this class will be encouraged to design and carry out a comprehensive review of the literature and/or a meta-analysis. However, students will have the option to conduct a primary research study involving data collection from participants. The instructor for this class will be the mentor. The study conducted may be based on the proposal developed in Psy 302 or may be a new proposal developed in the course of the Psy 485 class. In any event, the first research study conducted by all psychology majors MUST be within the context of this class. The only exception to this will be students majoring in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Depending upon the order that they take courses, these majors will have an opportunity to be involved in an additional research project while taking Psy 355 (Work Psychology).
2. If a student has taken Psy 485 early enough, they may have the time and inclination to conduct another study. This is permitted; however, students who wish to conduct an additional study must meet two criteria. First, they must find a member of the BYUI psychology department faculty to mentor their research. Please keep in mind that you must discuss this with a faculty member and receive their agreement to mentor you. FACULTY ARE NOT REQUIRED TO MENTOR STUDENTS so don't assume that just because you ask they will agree. Our faculty members are very busy and to mentor you will require additional work and responsibility on their part. Second, if the faculty member agrees to mentor you, you are required to sign up for at least 1 credit of Psy 395R under the section pertaining to your faculty mentor. It will not be considered appropriate for faculty from other departments or universities to provide oversight to BYUI psychology students.
Funding. There are some funds available to students to assist in conducting their study. These funds can be used to provide compensation to participants, purchase assessments, pay for poster printing, etc. However, there are not enough funds for every student and so students must apply for these funds if they wish this extra assistance. An application does not automatically guarantee funding. This is a competitive process.
Conferences. The Psychology Department will fund some students to attend and present their research at a professional conference. These conferences are generally: the Association for Psychological Science (APS) conference (generally in May), the Rocky Mountain Psychology Association (RMPA) conference (generally in April) and the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP) (generally in April). Other conferences may be funded depending on faculty interest and available funds. Students will generally be funded for only one conference. Students who wish to apply for these funds must meet the following criteria:
1. You must have a completed research project before applying for funds. (Students still working on projects by the application deadline will not be considered eligible for funds).
2. You must be attending BYUI during the time of the conference or have recently graduated from BYU-Idaho. Provided your graduation has been within the last two semesters, you are still eligible for funds. Thus if you graduate Fall 2012, you would still be eligible for funding in Winter of 2013.
3. All funding is contingent upon your research study being accepted by the conference selection committee. The deadlines for APS and RMPA are generally in January. The deadline for the SIOP conference is in September (with the conference being held the following April).
4. Students traveling to the conference must be accompanied by a faculty member.
If you meet the criteria, you must email a completed research report by the established deadline to the Psychology Department email (firstname.lastname@example.org). A research report will contain a brief explanation of the following: literature review, methods, results, and discussion. Please include somewhere on the research report your name and a reliable email address. A faculty committee will review the reports and notify all candidates of the decision. If you are selected, you will need to submit your research report information to the appropriate conference. Students who are attending will be expected to pay for their membership in the organization, registration fees, and their food during the conference as well as $100 towards their travel expenses. The Psychology Department will cover the rest of the expenses (travel and hotel).
Miscellaneous. In some cases, two or more individuals may work on one research project. If you are a coauthor on such a study, that study will be considered one of your permitted research projects. If you are working on a second research project and are going to be coauthor with someone else on that project, then you must also sign up for at least one credit of Psy 395R. In addition, both you and your coauthor are eligible for funding for attendance at conferences. If you choose not to attend the conference but allow your coauthor to go, you would still be eligible for funding for a different conference provided you were presenting the results of a different research study.
All students conducting studies of any kind are eligible for funds. Conferences will accept meta-analyses. So if the study you choose to conduct is a meta-analysis or review, it could be eligible for presentation at a conference.
All students conducting studies involving human participants MUST submit their proposals to the BYU-Idaho Institutional Review Board. Students conducting meta-analyses do not need to submit their study to the IRB.
Questions regarding this policy can be submitted to the Psychology Research Committee, namely, Samuel Clay, Yohan Delton and Eric Gee.