Research Assistants

 

General RA Information

The typical RA spends 6-9 hours in the lab for 3 hours of PSY 5993 credit. Committed volunteers are also welcome. Lab work provides RAs with hands-on research experience that should result in a greater understanding of scientific processes within psychology. RAs are expected to participate in lab meetings (typically biweekly) that involve discussions of current research in the field, professional development, and other topics relevant to psychology, careers, and future education with a degree in psychology. These meetings are intended to help RAs better understand current research in psychology and gain applicable professional development skills. RAs are also given access to our repository of files about applying for graduate school (with an emphasis on social psychology programs). At the end of the PSY 5993 experience, most RAs are eligible to receive a letter of recommendation from the lab when applying to graduate school or related jobs. At the beginning of each semester, students will be provided with a lab syllabus outlining the benefits of lab work and the expectations of RAs. 

If you have questions, please email Jami Eller (eller091@umn.edu).

 

Research Assistant Position Postings

We typically accept applications for new RAs in April/May (for the summer term), August/September (for the fall semester), and November/December (for the spring semester). Announcements for new applications will all be posted to this website and shared in Psych Scoop. All RA positions will be posted here along with their application link(s). Applications are typically open for 2-3 weeks or until all positions have been filled.

We are not currently hiring new RAs. Please check back here periodically for announcements about future hiring. 

 

Recommendations for RA Applicants

To ease the process of applying for our lab, we have compiled a list of qualities that make applications stand out. Please keep in mind that these suggestions are not exhaustive and qualities we look for vary from semester to semester based on project and team needs.

Strong applicants typically...

  • Are motivated, conscientious, and effectively communicate with others
  • Have enough time/availability to complete the duties being asked of them in the lab - typically at least 9 hours/week for first-time applicants
  • Answer all application questions thoughtfully and carefully, being sure to answer the exact question being asked
  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in the topics studied by our lab
  • Are willing to commit to working in our lab for multiple semesters
  • Previously completed coursework in statistics and/or research methods
  • Express long-term goals or interest revolving around research in social and/or developmental psychology or related topics

 

Major Project Students

Students enrolled in Major Project (e.g., senior capstone) who are interested in completing an empirical paper (e.g., not a literature review) are required to have worked in the lab for at least 2 consecutive semesters and be an active lab member at the time of Major Project. Students should discuss their project idea and plan for project completion with their primary supervisor. Students may not be able to analyze data from a project they were directly involved with if the data collection, coding, or initial analyses have not been completed by the semester the student is enrolled in Major Project. Students who have been in the lab for less than 2 semesters at the time of Major Project are encouraged to complete a literature review. 

 

Honors Students

Honors students should have worked in the lab for at least 2 consecutive semesters prior to beginning their honors thesis. Honors students should have a clear plan about their honors thesis that may or may not involve the use of new or existing data. All plans for honors thesis work should be proposed to the student's direct supervisor and Dr. Simpson in advance of beginning thesis work in the student's senior year.

Note: Given Dr. Simpson's current commitments as the department chair, he will not be able to directly supervise any honors thesis students. Because of this, all honors students in the Social Interaction Lab during Dr. Simpson's term as department chair will be directly supervised by a graduate student from the lab. If students would like more direct faculty contact through this experience, they are encouraged to consider other labs where a more direct collaboration with a faculty member will be more feasible during this time.