Get hands-on research experience for course credit.

What is PSYC240?

Starting in the Fall/W1 of 2022, UBC Psychology is offering PSYC240: Research Experience, a new course aimed at helping interested students get involved in hands-on research experience in psychology for course credit. Before this course, second-year students could only volunteer their time to gain research experience, because Directed Studies and Honours were the only ways of gaining course credit for working in a lab.

With the creation of this new course, we are bridging this gap, giving students flexibility from second-year onward in whether they wish to volunteer their time or work for course credit.


How PSYC240 Works

Students cannot enrol into this course directly, and instead apply for labs that currently have open positions using the PSYC240 Application Portal. Once submitted, labs review the applications and contact a subset of students they are interested in accepting. If the student and the lab mutually agree on the position, the student is manually enrolled into the PSYC240 course by the Department of Psychology.

The course is a variable-credit, pass/fail course. Each credit equates to 5h/week in a single semester in a research lab. Students can gain up to 3 credits total, and can choose to split their credits/hours across one or two semesters. For example, a student and a lab might agree upon 5h/week (1 credit) in the first term, and then 10h/week (2 credits) in the second. Or, the student and the lab might agree to a flat 7.5h/week in both semesters for the same split. Or, they might agree upon 5h/week across both terms, achieving 2 total credits.

The course is pass/fail, with students achieving a passing grade by performing the duties expected of them in the lab, plus submitting very brief  one-page reflection papers about their experiences.

Have more questions about the course?

Please read the FAQs at the bottom of this page.


The Application Process

Applying for the course is a three-step process. If you already have a position lined up and you are interested in converting it to PSYC240, we can do this! Please first discuss this with your lab, and then – if they agree – fill out the portal, selecting the “Convert my position” option in the lab list.

Step 1
Using the PSYC240 Application Portal you will be asked to submit the following information:

  • Your name, student number, and email.
  • A copy of your CV/resume, in PDF format.
  • The maximum number of hours you can commit to the lab in each term.
  • A list of labs that you are interested in joining (a full description of what each lab does can be found on this page and we strongly recommend you read it before starting this application).
  • For each lab you selected, a brief statement about why that lab interests you.
  • An optional demographic survey.

After you complete the application, you will receive a confirmation email, and the labs you selected will get notified with your information (your demographic details and the choice of other labs is not shared with any of the labs).

Step 2
Each lab then has their own in-house protocols for additional information they might ask of you (e.g., references, an interview, your transcript). This varies greatly from lab to lab, but you will know what to expect by reading the description of the labs at the link above.

Step 3
Once a lab makes you an offer, you can accept or reject it. If you accept it, the PSYC240 coordinator will be notified, and you will be enrolled into the course.

When all lab positions are filled, the PSYC240 coordinator will email all of the students who applied, notifying them that recruitment is done at this time.


Labs Currently Supporting PSYC240

The following labs have agreed to accept applications for the PSYC240 course in the 2022/2023 cycle. However, if you currently have a volunteer position lined up in a lab that is not listed here and you would like to convert your application to PSYC240, please discuss this with the lab and then still apply through the portal, selecting the option to “convert from volunteer position”.

Each lab has limited number of positions and once they have been filled the lab will be removed from the application itself, but their description will remain here.

For all labs that request transcripts, unofficial/screenshots are accepted.

The Anxiety Stress and Autism Program (ASAP Lab), directed by Dr. Connor Kerns, conducts clinical and community-based research to estimate the frequency of anxiety and stress-related disorders in ASD with greater precision and identify risk factors. Additionally, we aim to improve clinical practices by providing guidelines and measures for determining when someone on the autism spectrum is experiencing anxiety or trauma and by effectively treating these conditions in community settings. Students can expect to learn and perform tasks such as 1) data entry, data double checking, and data organization, 2) conducting literature reviews, 3) study recruitment through the Human Subject Pool (HSP) and in the local community. Additionally, students may be responsible for setting up and assisting with study visits, as well as engaging with participants face-to-face (depending on the current studies being run, restrictions on in-person research, etc.). The tasks we perform in our studies range from administering questionnaires and cognitive tasks to eye tracking and semi-structured interviews. Finally, students can expect to attend monthly lab meetings to hear about/give project updates, discuss research articles, or listen to guest speakers present on topics related to our lab’s research interests.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: N/A

The Baby Learning Lab, directed by Dr. Lauren Emberson, studies the capacity of the infant brain to learn, and how these capacities develop across the first months and years of life. To understand the learning mechanisms of the infant brain, we utilize both behavioural (i.e., quantifying actions or eye-movements) and neuroimaging (i.e., functional near-infrared spectroscopy or ‘fNIRS’) methodologies in our research. RAs perform a variety of tasks as a part of the Baby Learning Lab. RAs are trained to contact families to invite them to participate in our in-person studies; to prepare materials for upcoming studies; to help support family visits and fNIRS/eye-tracking data collection; and to code videos of infant behaviour. With experience, RAs are typically assigned to specific, ongoing projects that involve even more hands-on research experience; these specialized tasks may include performing literature reviews and helping with data processing and analysis.

  • Minimum Commitment: 10 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No (but a student can choose to submit them)
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: A description of prior informal or formal experience that might be relevant to the position (working or interacting with infants, children, or parents), if any, and (2) a statement regarding how the student would support and contribute to equity, diversity and inclusion in the lab.

The Centre for Applied Morality is a social psychology lab that studies morality and how it intersects with religion, technology, and emerging cultural, social and economic trends. RAs will primarily help with running experiments. They will also be welcome to join lab meeting discussions, should they wish.

  •  Minimum Commitment: 5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: No

At the Centre for Cognitive Development (PI: Dr. Odic), we are interested in how children think about number, space, and time, and how these early representations help them learn about language, mathematics, and metacognition. Students in our lab are trained on how to contact local Vancouver families by phone and email to invite them to come to our lab and participate in our studies. Students can expect to be part of a team that contacts families and will be trained on how to conduct the studies themselves both online and in our on-campus lab. We also expect that students will participate in weekly meetings that will help them grasp the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the projects.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters.
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: description of previous experience working with 4 - 8 year-old children, if any.

Centre for Gambling Research (Dr. Luke Clark; Cognitive Science)

The Centre for Gambling Research (PI: Dr Luke Clark studies gambling behaviour from many angles (see cgr.psych.ubc.ca) , but we are primarily interested in 1) understanding why some individuals experience gambling problems, as seen from the lens of behavioural addiction, and 2) how various modern gambling products, such as slot machines -- or products that resemble gambling such as video game loot boxes -- affect cognition and decision-making. For entry-level Ras, projects could involve either in-lab testing (i.e. recruitment, face-to-face testing), or for students with existing data skills, other projects might involve online surveys or large secondary/scraped datasets. Most projects involve small study teams including one or more RAs, the PI, and one or more grad students. These study teams generally meet weekly or biweekly, and RAs are also encouraged to participate in our weekly lab meetings that will help them learn about wider objectives in the lab and contemporary issues in psychology and academia.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: assignment to certain projects may benefit from, or in some cases require, relevant experience, such as working with large datasets, or coding (typically in Python or R). These skills need not be evidenced by prior research experience – they could be gained from hobbies or taught courses.

The UBC Centre for Infant Cognition’s research explores the origins of social and moral thought from a developmental perspective. In particular, we examine our tendency to judge individuals’ actions as good or bad, as deserving of reward or punishment, and as morally praiseworthy or blameworthy. We ask whether and how these social and moral evaluations influence our understanding of others’ future acts, their mental states, and their underlying personalities.  We also study how these evaluations affect our willingness to perform prosocial behaviours. We examine these questions using preverbal infants and young toddlers, in order to study the foundational origins of these processes before complex cognitive abilities (such as language and inhibitory control) fully develop, and prior to the influences of cultural norms and values. RA roles include: maintaining ongoing positive relationships with participating families including contacting families and scheduling appointments using a research database, setting up experimental equipment according to prescribed protocols (e.g. Eye-Tracking devices and recording materials), completing the consenting process with participating families, administering studies and assessments according to prescribed protocols, entering data into a research database according to established protocols, assisting with validating and cleaning of data assisting with data analysis. Opportunity to develop skills in R, SPSS, GitHub, Lookit, Adobe Suite, and Observer XT and a variety of looking-time software (such as PyHab, jHab).

  • Minimum commitment: 10h/week
  • Minimum semester commitment: 2 Semesters
  • Will references be requested: No
  • Will transcripts be requested: Yes
  • Will interview be requested: Yes
  • Additional information: If you have any previous experience working with children in a research or non-research capacity.

Coping with Neurological Symptoms Lab (Dr. Noah Silverberg; Clinical)

The Coping with Neurological Symptoms (CNS) Lab studies how people think about and cope with neurological symptoms (e.g., memory problems), how coping behaviours influence the experience and expression of symptoms, and how we can reduce symptoms and disability with rehabilitation interventions. To learn more, see: https://neuro.psych.ubc.ca/research/. Undergraduate students on their first research training placement are typically assigned to data checking, preparing data summaries, participant scheduling, document proofreading, and other miscellaneous research support tasks. They are also expected to attend monthly lab meetings and journal club meetings.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Statement of interest (what interests you about our lab, what research skills you would like to develop, preliminary career goals)

The Culture and Self Lab is spearheaded by Dr. Steve Heine, where we are working on different distinct research programs at the intersection of Cultural Psychology, Meaning Maintenance, and Moral Psychology. RAs will be expected to write and edit online survey studies, generate ideas for experiments, and oversee data collection. We also expect that students will participate in regular meetings in which ongoing research projects will be discussed.

  • Minimum Commitment: 5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 1 semester
  • Will References Be Requested: We will request (but not require) any references from past research-related roles.
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: (1) Why are you interested in working with this lab? (2) What are the research skills you are most interested in developing? (3) In 1-2 sentences: What is a research question you would like to study?

The Depression, Anxiety, & Stress (DAS) Lab (PI: LeMoult) seeks to understand the onset, presentation, and course of depression and anxiety disorders in adolescents and adults. We are particularly interested in why some individuals experience depression and anxiety in response to stress and why others do not. We have a number of projects underway designed to answer these questions by investigating cognitive, emotional, and biological responses to stress and negative affect. Students in our lab can be trained on a variety of tasks, including running participant sessions (in-person and online), collecting biological measures (psychophysiological, cortisol, inflammation), inputting data, phone-screening participants for study eligibility, and performing literature searches. Students also participate in our bi-weekly lab meetings, in which we discuss projects and ideas, hold research presentations, and learn new research skills. All lab members are invited to participate in our bi-weekly Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee meetings, where we work collaboratively to further the Lab’s commitment to EDI.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Lab-specific additional application sent later

At the Emotion & Self Lab (PI: Dr. Tracy), we study the evolutionary function, nonverbal expression, and psychological structure of emotions and self. Much of our research is focused on self-conscious emotions, but we also study more basic level emotions linked to moral behaviour as well as other complex social emotions like humility and schadenfreude. In all of our research, we tend to take a functionalist perspective – asking why questions about emotion and self, and seeking both ultimate and proximate answers. A student with research assistant position in our lab can expect to run psychological studies that involve Qualtrics surveys, roles as confederates, or other forms of assessment. Research assistants have the opportunity to participate in data analysis or study design depending on their interest as they advance within the lab.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: No minimum, but 2 semesters preferred.
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: N/A

The Infant Studies Centre, directed by Janet Werker, studies how infants perceive speech and acquire language during the first few years of life. To explore the roots and mechanisms of language development, we study infants growing up in different language environments (for example, those growing up monolingual versus bilingual) and utilize behavioural (i.e., eye-tracking), electrophysiological (i.e., ERP/EEG) and neuroimaging (i.e., fNIRS) methodologies. RAs perform a variety of tasks as a part of the Werker Lab. RAs will be trained to contact families to invite them to participate in our in-person and online infant studies; to prepare materials for upcoming studies; and to code videos of infant looking-time behaviour. With experience, RAs are typically assigned to specific, ongoing projects that involve valuable hands-on research experience; these specialized tasks may include performing literature reviews and directly supporting data collection, processing and analysis.

  • Minimum commitment: 10 hours/week
  • Minimal semester commitment: 2 semesters, but under exceptional circumstances could consider one term.
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: A description of prior experience that might be relevant to the position (working with infants, children, parents or in a research setting), if any.

We study how people’s goals and motivations interact with their beliefs and ideologies. Think topics like politics, morality, social inequality, and how we convince ourselves to hold onto beliefs that make us feel good even when evidence tells us they’re wrong. As a new RA, you might be asked to read and summarize scientific articles, make ratings of participants in our studies based on videos they’ve recorded or short essays they’ve written, learn how to use survey software like Qualtrics and / or data analysis softwares like R, and help create study materials.

  • Minimum commitment: 5h/week
  • Minimal semester commitment: 1 semester
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Additional information addressing anything about your transcript that you think is not representative of your performance / abilities.

Although humans encounter countless novel experiences, many of these are not retained. Our research (PI: Daniela Palombo) focuses on behavioural and neural factors associated with how we form and retain autobiographical memories. For example, we ask questions about how emotion or reward affects what we remember. A branch of this research explores how memory varies across individuals. We approach this topic in a multifaceted manner, combining behavioral research with structural and functional neuroimaging. We are also interested in the adaptive value of memory. Remembering our past does not just service memory in its own right, it is also critical to our ability to predict and make decisions about future outcomes. We are currently seeking to better understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms by which memory may influence other cognitive functions, with a primary focus on imagination and decision making. Interested students will be invited to join a team of highly motivated researchers who love memory and imagination.

Some tasks for this position include: data entry, data checking, review of Qualtrics surveys, checking references, literature reviews, running or checking basic statistics (with help from a more senior RA), brainstorming ideas.

  • Minimum Commitment: preference for 5h/week and up
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Lab-specific application sent later.

The Peer Relationships in Childhood Lab (PI: Dr. Mikami) is studying how children and adolescents interact with their friends, classmates, families, and teachers, and what interventions could help those youth who are having difficulty in these areas. Research Assistants in this lab will work on tasks such as reading transcribed answers that children gave to questions about their peers, and coding themes from these answers (based on a manual); checking whether participants (parents and children) have completed online questionnaires; entering questionnaires online; and possibly interviewing children over zoom about their relationships. There is a mandatory lab meeting every other week where Research Assistants will learn more about why we are doing the studies that we are, and to give more background on the research.

  • Minimum Commitment: 10 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Any languages other than English with proficiency in reading/writing (e.g., could translate a study document), and speaking (e.g., could answer questions about a study document with a participant). Description of previous experience working with 5-12 year-old children, if any.

The research in the Rights Lab is broadly aimed to improve statistical and methodological practice in scientific research, particularly for psychology and related fields. More specifically, the work in this lab focuses on addressing methodological complexities and developing statistical methods for multilevel/hierarchical data contexts (e.g., patients nested within clinicians, students nested within schools, or repeated measures nested within individuals). Undergraduate RAs will typically start work in the lab by completing readings and relevant study materials, and will later assist the PI (Dr. Jason Rights) and graduate students in conducting literature reviews, proofreading documents, and testing and developing statistical software. Advanced students (e.g., those who’ve taken many statistics courses) may also assist in mathematical derivations, conducting simulations, and writing manuscripts.

  • Minimum Commitment: 5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters preferred
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: description of previous experience with statistics or math

At the Sexuality and Well-being (SWell) Lab (PI: Dr. Dawson), we conduct multi-method research to identify risk and protective factors contributing to individuals’ and couples’ sexual health and well-being. The SWell Lab is a good fit for students who share our lab values around diversity, equity, and inclusion (see https://swelllab.psych.ubc.ca/join/), who are looking to gain experience in sexual health and well-being research. Volunteer tasks may include participant recruitment, data entry, piloting surveys and experiments, and conducting literature reviews. Volunteers are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings where we discuss new studies, provide feedback on each other’s work, and complete various workshops (e.g., data processing, writing). Volunteering in the SWell Lab will provide you with a rich training environment where you will develop competence in your research skills as well as confidence.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters.
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: N/A

At the Social Cognition and Emotion Lab (Happy Lab), we are interested in what makes people feel happy and be more socially connected, as well as how technology impacts our social lives and wellbeing. The majority of our undergraduate research assistants start at the beginning of each term. Entry-level RAs typically start by working with a graduate mentor. The tasks given will depend on the nature of the project the RAs assigned to (i.e., run and debrief participants, assist with field experiments, enter data, etc.). We expect the RAs to be prompt, reliable and precise in the assigned tasks. This is an opportunity to prepare undergraduate students with the fundamental skills needed to develop their research abilities and take on leadership roles within the lab (e.g., Directed Studies, Honours projects).

  • Minimum commitment: One student at 5h/week, and another at 10h/week, each for 1 semester
  • Minimum semester commitment: See above
  • Will references be requested: No
  • Will transcripts be requested: No
  • Will interview be requested: Yes
  • Additional information: An additional application, available now. Please fill the application form as attached, or go to our lab website to download the form directly.
    Here’s the link for application if applicable: https://dunn.psych.ubc.ca/social-cognition-and-emotion-lab/join-the-lab/undergraduate-students/

At the Social Cognitive Development Lab we study how young children (from infancy through adolescence reason about social groups. Currently, our studies focus on 3 general areas: The development of gender stereotypes, children’s understanding of structural inequality and the malleability of implicit bias. We conduct our research at the Living Lab at Science World and research assistants recruit children visiting SW. Students in the lab are trained to run several studies and actively recruit and test children during each lab shift. We have weekly lab meetings and students receive extensive training in the protocols for conducting research in our lab at Science World as well as in how to communicate our research effectively to a general audience (the visitors to Science World).

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters.
  • Will References Be Requested: Maybe
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: No
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: description of previous experience working with children, if any.

In the Social Health Lab, we use a combination of approaches drawn from social psychology, neuroendocrinology, and psychophysiology, to investigate how social relationships develop and influence our health. We are also developing and testing interventions to promote social integration, increase social support, and improve long-term mental and physical health outcomes. Successful applicants will have opportunities to help prepare study materials, interact with research participants and other members of a research team, gain experience with data collection, and develop skills, such as data management and analysis, and teamwork.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters, but under exceptional circumstances would consider one term
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: Lab-specific additional application sent later

Dr. Toni Schmader’s Social Identity Lab broadly investigates how an individual’s social identity and their associated stereotypes affect them. We investigate the effects of social stereotyping from the perspective of observers and the targets of stigmatization. Typical RA duties include running in-person studies, data entry, responding to participant inquiries, communicating study progress with supervising graduate or post-doc student, and other occasional tasks such as conducting literature reviews.

  • Minimum Commitment: 7.5h/ week
  • Minimum semester commitment: 1 semester
  • Will references be requested: No
  • Will transcripts be requested: No, however we do ask for an overall GPA and a GPA based on psychology courses taken. We also ask students to list all psychology courses they have taken and the letter grade they received for each course.
  • Will Interview be requested: Typically, there are no formal interviews. Graduate students or post-docs will meet with prospective RAs to discuss general expectations and projects for which they would be a good fit.

At the Soma Lab, we are interested in how steroid hormones affect the brain, behaviour, and immunity. Undergraduate students learn a variety of wet lab techniques, critical thinking, and communication skills. Undergraduate students will work as part of a team and participate in weekly lab meetings. Undergraduate students might be co-authors on conference presentations and/or publications, depending on their contributions.

  • Minimum Commitment: 10 hours/week
  • Minimum Semester Commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will References Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: N/A

At the UBC Vision Lab (PI: Dr. Enns), we study how human mind selects information. Our studies explore how specific experiences change what we see, how actions influence perception, in both social and non-social settings. Research assistants in our lab will be trained on conduct online and in-person studies, and data processing. Students are also welcomed to join our weekly meetings to learn more about theories and methods of various projects in the lab.

  • Minimum commitment: 5 hours/week
  • Minimal semester commitment: 1 semesters.
  • Will References Be Requested: No
  • Will Transcript Be Requested: Yes
  • Will Interview Be Requested: Yes
  • Additional Information Required: NA

The VanLab (PI: Dr. Leigh VanHandel) is interested in aspects of music cognition, which is how we perceive and understand music. Recent lab research has focused on the perception of tempo, or the speed of music, and how that is affected by things like melody, rhythm, and harmony. Students in the lab are trained to assist with experimental design and data analysis, as well as running subjects for in-person experiments. Weekly meetings will help students gain fluency with existing projects and develop their research skills.

  • Minimum commitment: 7.5 hours/week
  • Minimum semester commitment: 2 semesters
  • Will references be requested: No
  • Will transcripts be requested: No
  • Will interview be requested: Yes
  • Additional information: description of musical experience or education, including any instruments played and ability to read notated music (not required but helpful).


Frequently Asked Questions

Doing hands-on research in psychology labs is a common way of gaining many skills that are important for graduate work in psychology (e.g., data coding, participant recruitment, administration of tests and measurements, and more). These positions are known as “research assistantships”, or RA positions. While most psychology labs at UBC support undergraduate students as RAs, this is typically only done through volunteer experiences.

Many students, however, cannot volunteer their time to work in psychology labs as RAs, and are therefore systematically excluded from this opportunity. The central goal of PSYC240 is to provide students with an alternative arrangement of working in a psychology lab for course credit, if they prefer this to volunteering.

We have three goals:

  1. to simplify the process of applying to entry-level research assistant psychology labs through a centralized portal;
  2. be a vehicle for students who have entry-level research positions (acquired through the portal or otherwise) to receive course credit for position instead of volunteering; and
  3. to better understand the barriers that students experience when joining psychology labs, such that we can update our Department’s policies and protocols to, in the long run, be more transparent and equitable about students joining labs.

We don’t think so. Students in this course, like any course, will receive course credit that they can apply towards their degree requirement, and this course in particular can help create space within their timetables. Additionally, labs are not asked to hold or reserve any positions for PSYC240, so the pool of positions remains as open as it was before the introduction of the course.

A single credit in PSYC240 is equivalent to 5 hours/week in a lab as an RA for the duration of an academic term. While we expect most students to take PSYC240 for three credits, we want to give additional flexibility for students who do not have enough time for this commitment. Students therefore can take PSYC240 in a number of different configurations.

For example, a student can decide that they can at most spend 5h/week for 2 semesters, and therefore enroll in PSYC240 to gain one credit in the first term and one credit in the second. Or, a student might have 15h/week in the second term, but no time in the first.

Any of these configurations are acceptable so long as the student and the lab they are participating in agree on it. Once the student and the lab agree, the PSYC240 Course Coordinator is notified and handles all the administrative details to make this happen.

Most labs require a minimum commitment of 7.5h/week for two semesters. The easiest way to make this happen is to have the student enroll in a half credit split (1 credit in the Fall term and 2 credits in the Winter term), but have them split their time evenly in both, working 7.5h/week for both semesters.

If a lab asks you to do 7.5h/week for two semesters, the easiest way to accommodate this is by doing a half credit split (1 credit in Fall and 2 in Winter) and doing 7.5h/week throughout both terms. There is no way to accommodate half credits.

For labs with this requirement, you will receive 2 credits for your 10h/week in one term, and 1 credit for 5h of your 10h/week in the other term. To satisfy the lab requirements you will have to volunteer 5h/week in that 1-credit term. Unfortunately, the reality of some areas of psychology research is that a higher hourly commitment is required, though it is often matched by more experience gained, as well.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • reflect on the process of how quantitative research is conducted in psychology, including ethical decision making throughout;
  • reflect on how the ethical principles of the TCPS (Tri-Council Policy Statement; or Animal Care, depending on the lab) are applied in practice to ensure ethical treatment of participants (or non-human animals), and enact those principles as relevant;
  • summarize how faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students work together to create knowledge in psychological science;
  • contribute tangibly to an ongoing research project by performing tasks accurately and on time (e.g., data entry, coding, scheduling, materials preparation, data collection, literature search), as assigned by the Principal Investigator (PI) of the lab you are working in;
  • describe how their tasks contribute to an ongoing research project;
  • discuss the role of lab meetings and/or progress update meetings with the PI and/or lead graduate student; contribute to the progress of research;
  • compare and contrast research practices across psychology’s many subfields.

You will not receive a letter-grade for this course but will instead either be granted the credits or not at the end of each term. You will pass if:

  1. the lab reports that you did complete the agreed-upon number of hours in the lab, and performed your duties as expected; and
  2. you completed the mandatory TCPS2 ethics training that every lab requires; and
  3. submit monthly reflection papers (around 500 words each) to the PSYC240 Course Coordinator, alongside a list of tasks and hours completed.

For the papers, you will be asked to use specific examples to discuss how you have made progress toward the PSYC 240 learning objectives. For example, you might describe the tasks they have performed over the course of the past month, and explain how these tasks have contributed to knowledge generation in empirical psychology.

All the normal rules of course add/drop/withdraw deadlines apply normally.

If you and the lab you are in both agree to change anything, please contact the PSYC240 coordinator at ubcpsyc-g-psyc240@mail.ubc.ca and they will sort out any changes you need.

No, but the PSYC240 coordinator will offer optional virtual meet-ups during which we will spend time discussing careers in psychology, graduate school, finding other research positions, and more.

Before applying, please take time to read the brief description of each lab, provided for you here. You will learn about the research topics, typical responsibilities of entry-level students in the lab, and what additional application details you might need to submit at a later time. When deciding on which labs to apply to, the most important details will be making sure that you can meet their hourly and semester requirements, that you are interested in the kind of research that they do, and whether the typical tasks for RAs match the skills you want to acquire. It is also very useful to think about what skills you already have that seem like a good fit for the lab (e.g., experience working with special populations, coding skills, etc.).

Most labs want to know about why you applied to them. Consider writing a short statement about what part of their research seems particularly exciting to you (and why), and what skills you might have that make you a good fit for them.

After the application is submitted, each lab that is still recruiting students and was selected by you will receive a short version of you application, which will only have the details for them (they won’t see what other labs you applied for, or the optional demographic details). They will then review your submission and, if interested, contact you via email about next steps.

There is not, though we strongly urge you to spend time reading the descriptions of various labs and only applying to those that you are actually interested in.

We expect that many more students will apply than can be accommodated into labs (this is true for volunteer positions, too). If you do not hear back from any of the labs and you are notified that all positions are closed, it means that none of them decided to advance your application further. You can consider contacting labs outside of PSYC240 to find volunteer positions or you can wait until next year and apply through the PSYC240 portal again. For all students who were not matched to a lab, the PSYC240 coordinator will also offer advice for applying next year.

Absolutely. As part of the portal, you can select an option to convert from a volunteer position. You can do this even if the lab you are in is not one of the listed ones. Then, make sure you provide us with the email of the lab manager or PI so we can sort out the administrative details on our end.

PSYC240 can only accommodate work in a single lab. You are welcome to simultaneously be in other labs as a volunteer or paid RA, but you can only be formally in a single lab for the PSYC240 credits.

If your question is still not answered, email the PSYC240 Coordinator at ubcpsyc-g-psyc240@mail.ubc.ca.

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