How to Run an Undergraduate Research Lab Presented by Dr. Nicholas Salter Associate Professor of Psychology, SSHS What Do You Want? What do you want out of your undergraduate research lab? What goals do you hope to accomplish with this group? Design your lab to fit these goals! Problem Undergraduate students aren’t as excited about “research” as we are! What do we do? Give Them What They Want! Give Them What They Want! Make it a social experience for them (as well as a scholarly one)! Fun stuff: Check-ins or ice-breakers at every meeting Social events (example: having lunch together) Academic stuff: Career advice sessions Research skills training In general: Always have them working together! Getting Started Start with a website Helps you organize your thoughts and goals It legitimizes you Advertisement: to potential students and others Lab members can use it to shows others what they’re doing at school Getting Started Make it feel legitimate Ask them to “apply” to join the lab Have regular (or regular-ish) meetings Stick to a schedule Create short-term and longterm goals What Can They Do? There are some research skills and activities they just aren’t ready for yet at the undergraduate level. There are some research skills and activities that it would be quicker for you to do than for you to train them to do. You’ll need to think carefully about what you ask of your lab members! What Can They Do? Literature reviews Have them find articles relevant to the topic for you to read and write about later. Data analysis They may not know how to analyze data, but pair them up and have them work together with you there. Creating study materials Finding published scales, developing manipulations, creating online surveys, etc. “Mindless” tasks Typing up references, finding PDFs, transcribing qualitative data, etc. Challenges Selecting who will join your lab Consider how many team members you want Will you recruit via word of mouth, or will you send an email to all majors? Consider who you want Do you want upper-year experienced students, or loweryear students who will be around for awhile? Consider what they’ll need to do to apply Will they just ask you to join the lab? Will they submit an application? Will they submit a work sample? Challenges Managing your workload This can a be a ton of work (and time) for you! Consider ways to reduce your workload Assign a “lab manager” to help with some tasks Schedule days for them to present/lead a discussion Take days off! Challenges Keeping them motivated and energized As the semester goes on, their schedules will wear them down – they will start to run out of steam. Consider ways to keep them motivated and energized Design your lab to make it feel like a formal commitment Design the lab schedule to accommodate their schedules Always give them ownership of the projects Keep in mind: guide them, but gently – be flexible! Challenges Keep the lab running after they graduate They will leave (either because of graduation or because of new time commitments) – but that doesn’t mean your lab has to end! However, succession planning is key! Always be thinking about who will be sticking around next year. Try to ensure there is overlap so they can learn from each other. Don’t wait until the last minute to think about your team for next year! Remember! Students are the best part of our job! Why not capitalize on this and bring them in to our research? It can be a great experience for everyone involved!