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    mediation, moderation, conditional process models, factor analysis, meta-science
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    Quantitative Psychology

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  1. Great questions! RE Interviews: Typically, what we've done for international students is to schedule Skype or video call meetings with the potential students. Usually who ever the student indicates they would like to work with reaches out to them if they'd like to interview them. I think everyone is looking for something different in interviews but mostly I think faculty are trying to understand research interests, work style (e.g., time management skills, degree of independence), and interpersonal fit (i.e., do you seem to get along?). I think one of the biggest mistakes is for potential students to present strong negative feelings about any type of activity or research topic. It's can be off-putting for the faculty to see such a strong negative response to something that you (likely) have little experience with. I think expressing an openness to a variety of topics and ideas is really important in the interview. RE Ohio State: I loved Ohio State, it is a really fantastic school, and unlike many other schools Psychology is treated very well on campus. The psych department has a lot more resources and nicer facilities in comparison to some other departments around the country. The Quant PIs work generally independently, but there is a lot of cross talk. We have a regular brownbag on Mondays, and the faculty present, the students present, and they bring in external speakers. That is a really great opportunity for people to get to know each other and a lot of collaborations start in that meeting. In terms of collaborations, Paul de Boeck and Mike Dekay are working together on some stuff (and they are kind of co-supervising a student who is working on that project), I know Paul and Jolynn work together on stuff, Jolynn is working with one of Trish's students on a project, Andrew is working on a project with a social student. So yeah, it's not everyone on their own, the community there is pretty great. And the students have a great culture that breeds collaboration. I worked on projects with other students outside of my lab at OSU, and that was really rewarding. There's also opportunity to work with people outside of quant. I attended the Judgement and Decision Making brownbags, and found great collaborators there. Honestly, I thought I would not like Columbus. I'm originally from Seattle, and the idea of being in the midwest was not super appealing. But I loved it there. It's a great place to be a grad student because there's a lot going on in the city (without it being overcrowded) and the everything is incredibly cheap. It is very comfortable living on the student salary in Columbus, so it's nice not to be constantly worrying about money. If you're interested in Quant and Mathematical psychology I would recommend checking out Trish Van Zandt, Brian Turner, Mark Pitt, Mike DeKay, and Jay Myung as potential PIs.
  2. I'll try to take a stab at these, but also I think MathStat86 hit the nail on the head: much of this depends on the department and the adviser. I'll try to emphasize when the adviser or the department tends to be most important. 1. It depends on the project. Even within my work, I've done computational simulations and I've done formal proofs. I think the ability to do both is a strength, because it means that you can use the most optimal tool for the problem that you are trying to solve. I've seen many papers where they use a simulation and I think "They could have just done a proof, it would be much clearer and more generalizable." So the ability to do both is great. What your adviser does will largely (though not entirely) influence what you do. Personally, my adviser did not have a strong theoretical math background, but I got a masters in stat so was able to do things that he would not have been able to do himself. But if you want to be doing one type of work or another, look at the published work of potential PIs and select people based on the type of work they do. People who publish in journals like Psychometrika and Biometrika are likely to have more formal mathematics expectations. 2. I personally look for multivariate calculus and linear algebra, anything else is a plus (real analysis is a big plus). To me calculus and linear algebra are the core of the mathematics behind statistics, so those are required to do any meaningful mathematics work with statistics. I think you can be a successful quant person without those skills, your focus would just be in a different place. Something like a math or statistics minor is sufficient for me. Others require more. Many require less. 3. The distinction I draw between quant and mathematical psychology (though the line is quite blurred) is that mathematical psychologists are building mathematical models of human behavior (usually in perception, cognition, etc) and the goal there is to create knowledge about human behavior by creating mathematical models of that behavior. Quantitative psychology is more focused on developing general methods that others can apply later (to generate knowledge about human behavior). It's tough as a line to draw in the sand. The way I think about it is whether or not my goal is to explore human behavior. Mathematical psychologists are trying to explore human behavior, whereas quantitative psychologists are not. Though people use the work of quantitative psychologists to then explore human behavior themselves. And sometimes it's hard because quant people will work with substantive people, and it's not really clear where you draw the line. I think maybe it's just how people identify, and based on who they were trained by. Ohio State has a quant area, and the head is a mathematical psychologist (Trish Van Zandt) but there are other mathematical psychologists throughout the department (including cognitive, neuroscience, and decision making). 4. Again, I think this depends on the adviser, but in general I would say yes that experience is helpful. One thing that you learn working in a substantive lab is how research is actually done: how data is actually collected. If you are divorced from that process it's difficult to identify areas where you can contribute to the literature. For example, many of my research ideas come from consulting meetings and collaborations. Understanding the difficulties of collecting and modeling data in psychology is where research ideas in quantitative psychology often come from. I've seen students with relatively little experience in substantive areas struggle, because they are trying to solve a problem that no body has. 5. What I'm going to say having just gone on the job market is unfortunately, yes. These things matter, and they matter more than they should. It's difficult to rank Quant programs, but I think there is a general understanding of which programs are good (and then nobody knows any of the other ones). Additionally your adviser within the program matters as well. One thing that you have to remember is when you're on the job market, you have to impress the whole department, not just the other quant people (Typically there aren't very many quant people so quant people are often the minority on a search committee, though there opinions may influence other's more heavily). So the people outside of quant are relying on other easy information (like prestige) to make a decision. Since prestige of quant programs is not widely known, I think ultimately it comes down to the prestige of the college or of the program. I went to Ohio State, which has a great quant program though people outside of quant don't really know that. However, we have a phenomenal social area, so people in social think "OSU = good" when evaluating my case, even though I'm not in social. It's an unfortunate system and it really shouldn't be this way. I think I benefited a lot from coming from a big well known and well liked school like OSU. The difficulty is you can often work with someone great at a school not well known for quant, and I think that can hurt you (though I don't think that is how it should be). In particular, I think there is a danger in working with someone at either a smaller school or a school that doesn't have a quant *program (i.e., multiple faculty) because even though your adviser might be great, you still need multiple letters of recommendation. And its easier to get letters from well respect quant people when you're working in a program where you're collaborating with different people, taking their classes, interacting with them at seminars, etc. 6. I don't know any programs that *require* you also get a masters in stat. I think *perhaps* some advisers would prefer that you get a masters in stat, but I don't know any of those people either. I think many of them would probably just look for students coming from stat masters programs if that was how they felt (which some do). Some programs have a better relationship with the stat/biostat department than others. That was a major decision making factor for me, since I wanted to get a masters in stat. That information was readily available at my interviews, it was more difficult to figure out just searching around online. Though, if you're already in touch with a potential PI then that is the type of question they would likely be happy to answer. Just a little about my personal experience at OSU: OSU makes it pretty easy to get a masters in stat. There are two degrees that you can get over in stat, a Masters in Statistics and a Masters in Applied Statistics (There is also a Masters in Biostatistics but that is housed in the College of Public Health and a little more difficult to do because it's not in the same college as Psychology, so the process is more difficult. I only know one person who did a masters in biostat at OSU). There is also a minor in statistics, but that's different. I would say about half the quant students do some type of masters in stat. Of the students who do I think about 2/3 get the MAS and 1/3 get the MS. It's by no means required, but OSU makes it easy (procedurally, the classes are still very hard), which is nice. Here at UCLA, we're working with the stat department to create an easier way for students to get a masters in stat. Right now though the process is a little difficult, but some students have managed to do it anyway. We're currently trying to make the process easier. Hope this helps, happy to answer and followups
  3. In my experience people come in with differing experiences in quant, and so some have very defined research interests and some are not really sure at all. I had pretty defined research interests when I applied and then only really applied to work with people who did that thing. Alternatively, there was a person in my year who really didn't have a lot of exposure to quant but had a really strong math background and was very open about being unsure of his research interests. We both got in at our top schools, and I think have very similar careers ultimately. The important thing is that faculty see you as "trainable" so often times that either comes with clear resesarch interests or a skills background that makes it seem like you'll pick things up quickly. Even if you're not sure exactly what you're interested in, it's really good to be aware of the breadth of topics covered in quant. I would recommend picking up journals like Psychological Methods and Multivariate Behavior Research and trying to find papers you think are interesting. A little personal story that I'll share: When I was interviewing to grad school, I got invited to a school I applied to where I had a very specific person I wanted to work with. When I got off the plane one of the grad students picked me up. When we were driving around she asked who I wanted to work with, and when I said who it was she said "Oh well they're not taking students." I totally freaked out (internally) and felt like I had to take a 180 on my approach to interviewing. I couldn't figure out why they would have invited me if my potential PI wasn't taking students. So then I was trying to figure out who else I would want to work with there. When people asked me about my research interests during the interview I essentially said "Well I don't know that I'm sure exactly what I would like to do, because I've been really interested in everything I've been exposed to in quant. Like I haven't run into anything that I'm *not* interested, so by contrast it's hard to nail down what I *am* interested in." I think an answer like that alone would not be sufficient and would seem like you're avoiding the question, but they would always follow up and ask what I had been exposed to and I spent quite a bit of time talking about mediation/moderation, IRT, bayesian statistics, latent class analysis, generalizability theory, etc. Which made it clear that I at least knew some of the things people are working on it quant and wasn't just B.S.ing. RE GRE scores. My understanding is that often your scores have to just be over a threshold and past that I don't really know how useful they are (though sometimes they're used for university funding decisions). A 150 in verbal does seem pretty low, but it seems like you make up for it with the Quantitative score. You have to remember that you're not being compared to all Psychology students, you're really only going up against other Quant people. I couldn't find any statistics on Quant Psych GRE scores on average. I think if the rest of your application is strong, then you'll likely not have any issues, but if you're kind of in the middle ground then you may want to consider retaking the test. I think it will also really depend on the faculty you are applying to. I have a colleague who looks for people who are strong writers because they believe that it's easy to teach people about statistics but it's hard to teach people to write. Most of their graduate students were previously English majors or some variant of that. That faculty might be unlikely to consider a student with a 150 Verbal GRE score, whereas others might just focus on the Quant score. There's a lot of individual variability. One thing I will say. Compared to other areas, quant get relatively few applicants. So you are practically guaranteed for the faculty to look at your whole application, rather than relying on cutoffs and metrics to narrow down the field (cause it's already pretty narrow). So think about the whole picture, and if the verbal GRE score is your only major weakness, I'm sure you'll do quite well.
  4. Hi Everyone! My name is Amanda Montoya, and I'm a new faculty at UCLA in Quantitative Psychology. I graduated from The Ohio State University this summer (August 2018) with my PhD in Quantitative Psychology. I also got a Masters in Statistics along the way. My adviser was Dr. Andrew Hayes. I applied for grad school a while back (started in Autumn 2014). When I applied I applied to 5 schools Ohio State, UCLA, UNC-Chapel Hill, Arizona State, University of British Columbia. There was a 6th school but I forget what it was. It was kind of a "back up" which I had been warned not to have, and I got into Ohio State before the application for the last school was due, so I decided not to submit there. I got interviews at 4/5 of the places I applied, and was accepted at 4/4 of the places I got interviews. My background when I was applying was in social psychology. I had worked in a social psychology lab at the University of Washington, done my honors thesis in that lab, and stayed an extra year as a lab manager. That lab managing position gave me the opportunity to present some posters at conferences and get additional experience with data analysis. I majored in Psychology and minored in Math. I am happy to answer questions about my experience as a graduate student, applications, interviews, life as a grad students. I'm also willing to share my perspective from the faculty side of things. This position is very new to me, but I did have the opportunity to review applications last year and am familiar with the process from the faculty side. Our other panelists will be joining us on October 1st. I hope that we can get some questions posted over the weekend so that they have some material to cover when we get started on Monday!
  5. Hi Everyone! I wanted to take the opportunity to start a forum for students interested in Quantitative Psychology, particularly those considering applying to graduate school during Fall 2019. I hope this can be a place where students share and discuss their experiences applying, and currently enrolled students can impart some wisdom on the incoming class. I personally benefited quite a bit from using GradCafe when I was applying, so I want to make sure the practice carries forward! Additionally, I wanted to say that we have a group of current graduate students and faculty who have committed to doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) October 1st - 7th. So each "panelist" is committing to logging on at least once a day and answering questions about quantitative psychology. Each of the panelists will introduce themselves providing as much detail as they feel comfortable with (Quant can be a small community and many of the panelists are current graduate students, so they may choose to remain anonymous). I assure you however that these panelists have been selected based on their previous experiences and expertise in quantitative psychology! Additionally, please understand that each of us are expressing our individual views and these views do not represent those of our universities, departments, or areas. From now til October 1st, I hope this forum can serve as a place of discussion and community to the incoming students in Quantitative Psychology!
  6. Hi All, I'd just like to add a few things. I think generally the question has been answered, but if there are more questions from Quant Psych PhD hopefuls I'm happy to answer. I'm a 3rd year PhD student in a Quantitative PhD program. I think each program is a little different, but here are some answers based on my experience. 1) Is a Quantitative psychology PhD program a good place for someone particularly interested in measurement of personality and psychological disorders? I would say no. This seem like a very substantive interest. I agree with the recommendation that you check our some educational measurement program. You might also consider applying to a personality or clinical program that also has a quantitative program. That way you could do something like minor in quantitative psychology, take a factor analysis or item response theory class, and learn how to do scale development. The big different here is implementing a method compared to developing a method. If you spend your time thinking about how we could be doing scale development better (i.e. the recommendation to people building scales need to improve) that is inline with quantitative psychology. If you want to build a scale, that is more in line with substantive work. 2) I do not have a background in calculus. Is this a problem? Will I be out of my league? I do have four semesters of research methods and three semesters of statistics. I think this depends on the program. I would say very few students are admitted to our program without advanced calculus and matrix algebra. We have a number of students who double majored in psychology and either math or statistics. Many of our students also do a Masters in Applied Statistics while they are doing their PhD in Psychology. Calculus is very much required for understanding probability and statistics, and the ability to do calculus will likely come into play when doing research (particularly if you're doing Bayesian methods). 3) I am not particularly interested in creating new statistical methods myself. I am more interested in tackling other people's data and looking into multi-level modeling. Is that a problem? Yes. To me the thing that almost all of our students have in common is a critical eye on statistical methods. They were asking questions about why we do things the way that we do from the beginning (like in introductory statistics classes in undergrad). If you spend your time in the class wonder "Does that always work? When doesn't it work? Are there methods that would work in a larger variety of circumstances?" then welcome to quantitative psychology. Our goal is to come up with new ways to analyze data in psychology and new mathematical models for psychological phenomenon. If your goal is to apply those methods to a specific question, then you need to find an area of research that is interesting and apply those methods. Again though, I would consider finding a school that has a quant program, so you can learn advanced methods from the professors who are innovating those methods. I personally bandied back and forth between quantitative psychology and social psychology. The big thing that got me was that I was constantly unhappy with the methods that people in social were using and I wanted to improve them. I spend most of my time working on improving statistical methods that people are currently using. I do spend some time consulting and helping other people do their data analysis but this is a very small proportion of what I do. 4) Is there anything I need to do to improve my chances for getting into a program? I was thinking about maybe learning R or SAS or both. The quantitative professor at my university offered to do an independent study with me in R. Is this worthwhile? High quantitative GRE scores and some indication that you know what quantitative research is. Try reading Psychological Methods or Behavioral Research Methods. Learning to program is really important. I came into graduate school proficient in SPSS and R. I've picked up SAS, MatLab, Python, and GAUSS on the way. It's really important that you be able to think like a programmer. Take a few Coursera courses or something on R or any other syntax based language. The ability to point and click on SPSS is not going to get you into a quant program. I agree with the previous recommendation to try our some simulations. There is a nice book Monte Carlo Simulation and Resampling Methods for Social Science which uses R and could be useful to work through. I think this book should be approach to anyone who's taken introductory statistical methods in a psychology department.
  7. Thanks all! I already have a webpage through my university, but I and my adviser have some concern about continuity of source when I move institutions. I always find it frustrating when I'm reading a paper and it says I can find materials at a specific webpage, but it turns out the faculty has moved schools. My adviser has his own website not through the university for this reason and I would like to as well. There is a certain amount of super computing time designated to our department, but unfortunately we're pretty much always overbudgetted on it so it's very competitive to get time. I can use a research grant to "buy" additional time for myself, so I thought this would be better than trying to battle full professors for time to run my simulations.
  8. I'm a PhD student and one of the things I focus on is building tools that other researchers can use to make data analysis easier for them. My adviser has a website where he makes his tools available and has suggested to me that I should also get a website. I know websites are pretty cheap, but I'm also interested in purchasing some super computer time from my university. Does anyone know of any technology grants which might cover costs like these? I'm struggling because these are pretty general needs and not tied to a specific researcher project.
  9. Oh you're excited now, but wait until one reviewer writes an incredibly positive review but gives you the only fair you got, and it keeps you from getting the award. I mean... I'm sure you'll get it. All of us will.
  10. 6am EST on a Tuesday is pretty standard. Though, the government doing anything before they are expected to, very unstandard. We'll see which one wins out.
  11. I feel like last year they were super behind what they said they would do, what with the government shutdown and everything. I am very hesitant to believe it will be out "before" early April.
  12. I met with two of my POIs last year (I am a first year graduate student). I was giving a talk at one of the schools I was planning on applying during the spring before my application season. I emailed the two faculty I was interested in working with. One emailed back and said he would not have time to attend my talk. The other said that he was teaching a class during my talk but would send one of her graduate students, and we set up a seperate meeting. The meeting was like a graduate school interview. She asked me about my background, research and course work. I'm in quant so she asked me a lot about my math background and coding experience. It went really well and we spent a lot of time talking about her approach to research, and her vision of what quantitative psychology should be contributing to the field. When I went back the following spring it was very chill, she spent much more time just trying to sell the program and the city to me. We also spent some time working on a fellowship application. I think meeting your POI early can help alleviate the stress of interview season (because it's SUPER stressful). I also met one of my POIs before my interview but after I applied. He emailed me asking if I'd be attending SPSP and if we could meet before our interview, since the interview was scheduled for very late in the season. We discussed similar things and it made my second visit incredibly easy-going.
  13. Sorry for the delay. Here's my answers to your questions. Please feel free to follow up. I'd also like to add that my case is just one, and I know people who've come from many different kinds of backgrounds and gotten into great programs. Background: I did my undergrad at the University of Washington. I did two years at a community college, and then transfered there my junior year. I got into the honors program in the psychology department, which pairs you with a faculty and you work in their lab for two years and do your own independent research project. I worked with a social faculty member there and did my thesis on goal congruity theory and it's applications in increasing women's participation in science, technology, engineering, and math. I completed a BS in psychology and minored in math. After I graduated I spent a year as the lab manager of the social lab that I worked in while I was an undergrad and collaborated on a few social and one quant project. I made a point to present posters at conferences like SPSP, and some undergraduate conferences. GRE/GPA Scores: Quant: 162 Verbal: 169 Writing: 5 GPA: 3.78 Deciding: Going in, Ohio State and UCLA were my top two schools. There were multiple people at the schools that I was interested in working with and they are well regarded programs. The May before I interviewed, I gave a talk at UCLA and made a point to contact the professor I wanted to work with at UCLA and asked if we could meet. We met and got along great. I really like her approach to mentorship, and she has a good track record and her work is really interesting to me. The other two schools UNC and UBC were easy for me to say no to. The adviser at UBC was AMAZING, but their funding packages were not livable in Vancouver. All of their students were living with family in the area, which was not something I could do. UNC, though the program is amazing, paired me with an adviser I was not interested in working with, and I don't agree with their method of when you TA versus RA during your time there. I think if they had paired me with a different adviser I would have seriously considered it. The students there obviously loved it, and a lot of the faculty there are great and doing very well. Not to mention Chapel Hill is a really low cost of living but fun area. In the end UCLA versus OSU came down to the adviser. I had applied for the NSFGRF (which I highly recommend everyone look into). When I didn't get it, I got a really short email from the prof at UCLA essentially saying "Too bad." But, my adviser at OSU sent me a long email noting how my experience this year would set me up well for trying again next year. He was so supportive when I felt so defeated, I knew that was how I wanted my relationship with my adviser to be. I am a person who needs support when I need it and distance most of the rest of the time. My adviser does that very well, and it made everything very easy. Additionally (and this wasn't THE deciding factor but I think it's important) my adviser at OSU nominated me for an incredibly competitive fellowship that gave me a much bigger stipend than the usual and a lot of reduced TA time, whereas the prof at UCLA nominated me for a Diversity Fellowship that was not as competitive and there were other options for what she could have nominated me for. It made me feel like my adviser at OSU had a lot of faith in me, whereas maybe not so much at UCLA. In the end I'm very happy with my decision, I don't feel like I burned any bridges, and I hope I get a chance to work at those other schools in the future. It's a tricky deicision and I highly recommend sitting on it for as long as you can. There is a date that you must respond by, but don't let anyone pressure you to answer before then. Reaching Out: Like I said above, I actually met with one of the professors before I applied. It was mostly luck that I was giving a talk at that school, but I definitely think that set me above and beyond. I emailed Dr. Hayes before applying, and he has since noted that he really only seriously considers the students who emailed him before. I also emailed my POI at UBC just to see if he was taking students. I didn't email UNC because I wasn't very invested in going there, but my mentality about it was that if I got in there it would make the offers more competitive from other schools. I emailed ASU, my POI said he was not taking students, but that the program as a whole was taking students (they didn't actually), so I wasn't particularly hopeful. My general recommendation is to contact them before hand. Ask if they are taking students. Ask what papers they have out are most representative of their current pursuits. Make sure you're very polite, but also remember that they are looking for curious minds, so make sure to ask more than surface questions. You can always ask about details of the program that aren't available online. I asked most of my POIs if the programs were supportive of students pursuing a Masters of Statistics/Applied Statistics/Biostatistics because that was something I was interested in doing. Hope this helps!
  14. Haha, thank you! He's a really great guy, and super nice. I feel incredibly lucky.
  15. Hey All! I am a first year graduate student in the quantitative area, and I went through the application/interview process last year. There were a few students who I knew who were incredibly helpful in answering my questions and being an excellent resource. I don't think I would have gotten through the process without them. So I'd like to offer myself up to do something similar this year. I know applications are very close to due and soon interviews will be abound. So I want to answer questions that people have. WHO AM I: My name is Amanda, I go to Ohio State, and I work with Andrew Hayes. Last year I applied to 5 schools: Arizona State, Ohio State, UNC- Chapel Hill, UCLA, and UBC. I was accepted at all of these schools with the exception of ASU. I went to interviews at all the schools and have insight about each of them. I did my undergraduate at the University of Washington with a BS in Psychology and a minor in math. I took a year off to manage a social psychology lab and take graduate level courses. I'm happy to answer quant specific questions, or general questions. I probably have more insight about quant but that won't stop me from giving my opinion. SHOOT!
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