Psychological Research

How to Get Involved with Research

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences encourages undergraduates to take advantage of the many opportunities to participate in conducting research projects carried out at JHU Homewood Campus and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. We welcome students with questions regarding independent academic work to contact Dr. Stephen Drigotas, the department’s director of undergraduate advising, for guidance.

Supervised research practica must be sponsored by a full-time faculty member from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.

To find a faculty sponsor, begin by looking at the faculty research interests in their faculty profiles. You may contact the faculty member or lab manager affiliated with the lab in which you would like to work to discuss possible research opportunities. We recommend making this initial contact the semester prior to the one in which you plan to conduct the research. You can also check the Research Opportunities for postings of opportunities.

We encourage you to explore opportunities to conduct research outside of the department as well. You can receive credit for those experiences provided that a full-time faculty member in the department has found your proposed experience to be academically relevant to the field of psychology and agreed to sponsor your research.

Supervised research is initiated by an agreement between you and the faculty member with whom you plan to work. This mutual agreement outlines your research responsibilities, your time commitment, attendance expectations, what you will gain from the experience (i.e., experience, guidance, practical skills), and what you will offer your research sponsor/supervisor (i.e., time, paper, experiment results).

In situations where you are conducting research outside the department, the PI or other individual with whom you perform the work will serve as your advisor, communicating with your department sponsor regarding the fulfillment of the agreed-upon research expectations.

Research Guidelines & Grading

Supervised research experiences can range from 1-3 credits. For each credit, 40 hours of work (approximately 3 hours per week of the semester) is required. Therefore, a student earns 1 credit for 40 hours in a semester (about 3 hours per week), 2 credits for 80 hours (about 6 hours per week), and 3 credits for 120 hours (about 9 hours per week). You may find that your hours worked vary per week; it is your responsibility to accurately record your time throughout the semester on your timesheet, for review and approval by your supervisor at the end of the semester. Students and faculty advisors/sponsors should agree upon a number of credits and hours at the beginning of the semester.

All students enrolled in Research will summarize the substance of the research conducted throughout the semester in a report, in addition to other post-completion documents as noted below.

Your JHU faculty sponsor must receive each of these items no later than 5:00PM on the last day of Reading Period in the semester during which you complete the research experience. Unless an alternate arrangement has been discussed prior to the deadline, late reports will not be accepted, resulting in a possible Unsatisfactory grade with no credit awarded.

Required Documents for Research Credit

1) Submit a typewritten Report of Research, approximately 8-10 double-spaced pages in length, on the work accomplished during the semester. The report should include a reference list at the end of the report citing 4-8 journal articles and should follow this format:

  • Introduction: Provide background information including references to the literature and describe how the work fits into the overall research program of the laboratory (approx. 1 page).
  • Methods: Briefly describe experimental methods used in the work. Cite references when appropriate. Step-by-step detailed protocols are not necessary (approx. 1 page).
  • Results: Describe your results. Be sure to include graphs, tables, etc. If this is the first semester of work and there are insufficient results to report, there should be more emphasis on describing techniques learned during this period in the Methods section.
  • Discussion: Discuss significance of the results and relate them to future plans, if appropriate.

2) Students conducting research under the supervision of a faculty member not located on the JHU Homewood campus must have their research supervisor certify that the work described in your report is accurate and complete and provide an evaluation of the quality of your work. Your supervisor may annotate your report with this evaluation or communicate it confidentially in a letter or email to your faculty sponsor.

3) Students must also complete and submit the white Summary Report of Independent Work form (available from the Registrar’s Office) to the faculty sponsor. Based on the student’s oral and written reports, evaluation provided by the on-site research supervisor, and time sheet, the Homewood faculty sponsor will complete the “Faculty Supervisor’s Comments” section, assign an S/U grade, sign the form, and submit it to the Registrar’s Office for final grading. The Office of Academic Advising will retain a copy of the Summary Report of Independent Work in the student’s academic file.

4) Students must also submit a complete timesheet documenting all research effort in that semester, If the research supervisor is not a JHU faculty member, the supervisor will sign the student’s timesheets for approval by the JHU faculty sponsor.

Research Compliance Training

Prior to initiating contact with any research subjects, all students conducting research in psychology are required to complete all required research compliance training courses. The required courses are specific to the nature of the research and the subjects in the specific lab in which the student will be working.

Individuals interacting with human subjects or involved in human data collection or analysis must be certified in the protection of human research participants by the Homewood Institutional Review Board (HIRB). JHU researchers are required the take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Program’s training in Human Subjects Research. This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and student research projects, regardless of the location at which the research will be conducted. Evidence that you have completed all required trainings should be filed with the lab and your faculty sponsor.