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spunky

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Everything posted by spunky

  1. If I may offer some advice from the perspective of someone who already graduated and went on his first round of job hunting, there is an edge from an academic job perspective to go for a quant psych program rather than an ed psych program with a measurement/psychometric focus. I found out (sadly, a little too late) that ed psych type departments have no problem hiring people coming either from ed psych depts or from psych depts as long as the courses/research they did in quant psych overlaps with ed psych (i.e. some emphasis on measurement or psychometrics). Psych depts, however, seem to be a lot less interested in hiring people coming exclusively from ed psych programs. The course materials and research in both programs are usually 99% similar but I guess it does make a difference to them from which dept you come from :/
  2. Just to update the thread, I did receive an invitation for an interview scheduled for next month. I kind of like how on the "unofficial" itinerary they sent to me, everything ends with a restaurant dinner. I'm gonna be wined and dined! Sweet!
  3. Would it be possible for you to turn any of those posters into an actual publication in a peer-reviewed journal? That would definitely improve your profile as an applicant and, if you have a poster, I'd assume at least some of the research has already been conducted, rite?
  4. I do not know if your application is average or not because "average" depends on who else is in the application pool. Like @_kita said, it is a game of numbers now. If you were at the top 1% of applicants and 1000 people applied, you could be at the bottom of the 10 most talented people for that year. That's the thing with rejections. You have no way of knowing whether you barely missed your chance this year or if it turns out that this year most people who applied had lots of publications in very prestigious journals and it all came down to GRE scores. I honestly feel like you should give it at least one more honest chance. Give the GRE everything you've got, maybe try to have another pub or a conference presentation and see how it goes. And if it doesn't end up happening I mean... you have a wife, you have your children, you have a home. No PhD is gonna come close that.
  5. Depends on many things, like the prestige of the program. I did an internship at ETS way back in the day and I wanted to be specifically placed within the research group that handled the GRE because by then I had learned enough Psychometrics to be able to distinguish BS to what seemed interesting. And one of the things I noticed when it came to uni departments asking for more scores and info (stuff that doesn't usually get reported on the website) is that prestigious programs OBSESSIVELY ask for info and they tend to be interested in all the new GRE bells and whistles. Which makes sense from the point of view of how they sometimes filter candidates. If you're applying to a popular program (like Clinical or Social/Personality) to a prestigious school or lab, the PIs there are going to easily get applications in the mid to upper 100s. NOBODY is going to go through those many applications. Easiest thing to do is set a GPA and GRE threshold and throw everything away that doesn't meet the threshold unless there's something unusually interesting about your application (like an undergrad with several publications in top journals). Also keep in mind a lot of unis with prestigious programs tie funding to GRE scores, and funding can make you or break you around the application season. So, like in most cases, the answer tends to be a big "it depends". But the more "average" your application looks, the more the GRE tends to matter. Exceptions are always possible, but I feel the general trend is something along those lines.
  6. Thank you @schenar. When I first encountered this area of Quant Psych (almost a decade ago) I felt really alone and almost like I had to re-invent the wheel all by myself every time. My undergrad profs didn’t know much about it, online resources were scarce, the field seemed rather obscure, etc... That’s why I’ve stuck around this forum. I realized that, although things have changed, a lot of newcomers in the field need some extra guidance that people in more “mainstream” areas of psych can get from almost anywhere. Depending on which area of Quant Psych you specialize on, you can be very technical or more applied. There are certain PhD programs (I think OSU and UCLA are good examples) where Quant Psych peeps take master’s level courses in Statistics and Mathematics so that, by the end of your PhD, you can also claim an MSc in Statistics. So whereas a Quant Psych degree wouldn’t automatically make you a “data scientist”, the work you’re doing can get you sufficiently close to it so that you might as well pass for one. After a few years being into this whole programming (mostly in R and Python) world, I’ve concluded it is very much like being an artist. You keep an active online presence with a portfolio (e.g. a webpage, a github account, etc.) and you show your chops there (share your code, blog about programming/data analysis stuff) and people eventually will find you out. If you prefer to go the industry route (which I’m personally considering at the moment), people won’t care whether or not your degree is in quantitative social sciences VS statistics as long as you can demonstrate (via your online presence) that you have what it takes. Being involved in an applied research project is the best thing to fish around for ideas on what to do research on that’s more methodological/theoretical. Every idea I’ve had comes from someone asking me a question about regression or ANOVA or SEM or the t-test or something like that and me taking that “seemingly simple” question and logically extending it to its natural consequences. I remember I once had an undergraduate student asking quite innocuously whether or not a 1-way ANOVA would let him compare as many group means as he wanted without inflating Type 1 error rate. “Sure” – I said - “that’s why we do ANOVA instead of multiple t-tests. That way we can compare an infinite number of….” And my voice started trailing off. Can we compare an infinite (not finitely large, that’s trivial to show), but actually infinite number of group means? (Spoiler alert: we can but, it depends). So what started off as your typical 3rd year bachelor's student question became a really cool theoretical investigation of the asymptotic properties of Analysis of Variance. You never know when inspiration’s gonna hit. In any case, good thing is that you’re still in time to make an interesting career before the field begins to experience saturation
  7. From what you described, I feel like your profile is pretty decent for a candidate applying to Quant Psych programs. Like I shared on my previous post (and quite a few other threads in this forum) this area is still “Psychology’s best kept secret” (that is changing fast though. I’ll elaborate further towards the end) so there isn’t really an expectation that any given candidate should be proficient in it. A traditional 4-year undergrad training in psychology usually gives you exposure to most of the major areas within psychology (social/personality, abnormal, clinical, etc.), but rarely do you get to learn anything about Quant Psych as an actual subfield of psychology, with a research programme beyond the mandatory research methods classes. Professors know this and I feel what they look for, more than anything, is just people who are enthusiastic about research methods or statistics and who have demonstrated to be numerically inclined (usually through good grades in stats classes, a good quant GRE and maybe some data analysis sample writing where you did something beyond a 1-way ANOVA or a multiple regression with 3-5 variables). With that being said, the more you can demonstrate you have training in Statistics, Mathematics and programming (programming being VERY important, especially in a statistical environment like R/SAS/STATA/etc.) the better your chances will be of impressing potential committee members. The fact that you’re RAing in a Quant Psych lab is priceless in itself. From what you describe, I feel that is your strongest selling point and it will make your application stand out. Even if your role is mostly observational, profs know that you’re simply not well-trained enough so early in your academic career to start making substantive contributions. But they see you’re being exposed to the field, the terminology, the methods being used, etc. and that is invaluable. The thing is, although it is true that we resemble Statisticians more than Psychologists, it is also true that the methods we use, the lingo in which we speak, the issues we concern ourselves with, etc. are almost exclusively the province on the social sciences. Knowing some of this before you start graduate school so you can jump into the literature without having to google every 2nd technical term is very good, so kudos to you for doing that. In our Quant Psych lab we also have a few undergrads every now and then and it’s pretty standard for them to stay mostly quiet, taking notes while the rest of us do most of the substantive discussion. They key point here is that you’re showing interest and you’re ready to learn new stuff. Regarding competitiveness and size of the program here are my thoughts. Although we are not (and I’m sure will never reach) social/personality or clinical psych type numbers, the number of applicants *is* increasing (and doing so fast) every year, for multiple reasons. The most obvious one is simply that more people are going to college. Because of this, the value of an undergrad degree keeps on shrinking (like a bachelor’s degree today is the new high school diploma of 20-30 yrs ago) and more people need to get more and more credentials to position themselves in the job market. The second (and much more interesting) issue are the particularly exciting times we’re living in. First of all, ALL statistics/data analytics/etc. programs are experiencing a newfound popularity. Professor Xiao-Li Meng, the head of the Statistics Department at Harvard, has commented on this very often, noting that ever since the word “data science” became popular, most quantitative-anything university programs have experienced a boost in applicants. I mean, you hear how companies like Google or Facebook are interested in employees capable of making sense of large amounts of data and willing to pay six-figure salaries for it and you’re *obviously* gonna get people from all corners on the word trying to get a piece of that. So… yeah, there’s that incentive right there. The other exciting aspect that pertains mostly to Psychology is the Crisis of Replicability and the weird, “wandering through the wilderness” stage in which we find ourselves into. The Ioannidis article on Why Most Published Findings Are False became popular almost at the same time as Brian Nosek hit the world of social psychology showing that half of some of the most prominent findings in his field do not replicate. Psychology obviously enters in panic wondering when things went wrong while those of us who exist in the world statistics/research methods/data analysis start pointing to articles from the 70s and 80s that were heralding this type of crisis while being mostly ignored by the majority of substantive/applied researchers... until they couldn’t ignore us anymore. But now that the crisis took hold, psychology (and many social sciences) is looking to their methodologists in search for answers in terms of best data practices and proper ways to conduct analyses. And that pushes the demand for people trained in methodology/statistics and for people who may otherwise not consider themselves “number savvy” to become interested in our field… increasing its ranks. Now that whole situation opened a different other can of worms, of course. We’re in the 2nd phase of the p-value war now (mostly being fought on Twitter and Facebook) where you have people advocating to lower the p-value threshold from .05 to .005, Bayesians saying we should just get rid of the Neyman-Pearson paradigm altogether, older frequentists saying there is nothing wrong with .05 but we need to train people better… I dunno, it’s a mess. But a fun one, because it is the kind of mess where methodologists, statisticians and data analysis type people are sorting themselves out to make sure we can present a coherent message to applied researchers. So yeah, I foresee Quant Psych programs will steadily become more and more popular the deeper we go into this change of paradigm so at least you know you’re making the right choice by jumping in early. A few universities are either opening Quant Psych type programs or expanding them to tackle whatever changes come into be so enjoy the ride!
  8. Thanks. I guess that makes sense. I was kind of excited because, although the email was not signed, the email address from which it was sent belongs to a professor in the program I applied to (yeah, I Google-stalk sometimes, LOL). That made me think "oh wow, profs area already checking out my stuff! Great news!" But who knows, maybe it was just his secretary getting all his paperwork in order. I guess I'll find out soon enough anyway.
  9. Sooo... on an interesting turn of events, I received an email yesterday from the hiring committee which attached a PDF file with the exact same… uhm…“self-identification diversity form” (don’t know how else to call it) that I inquired about on my previous post. The email I received stated that said form was an important piece of my application package and would very much appreciate if I could fill it, sign it, and email back a scanned copy ASAP. I guess my very ethnic-sounding name must have clued them in . On the bright side it tells me they’ve reviewed my application and they haven’t tossed it on the “no” pile yet (yaay!). On the not-so-great side… well, it forces me to deal with the delicate issues of race and race relations which I generally try to avoid. They define a visible minority as someone who is “non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour”. I’m one of those Latinos who (at least as verified by 23andMe) has a mix of 70% European ancestry and 30% Indigenous/South American ancestry. Which I guess gives me just enough European features to pass as your average “white guy”, but once you hear me speak with an accent you can readily tell I wasn’t born in an English-speaking country. I guess I’ll just self-identify as a minority and see where that gets me. I honestly didn’t really think it was such a big deal, LOL.
  10. I see. Well, in that case I'd say you even have a decent chance at PhD programs. I mean, you know your application better than I do but if your freshman (non-technical) courses are the ones bringing your GPA down, I don't think they'd be that big of a deal. One of the advantages of applying to "unpopular" programs like Quant Psych is that potential advisors receive a lot less applications than say Clinical or Social/Personality, so they can actually spend time reviewing your stuff and not toss it aside if you don't meet certain GPA or GRE criteria. Last year in my program I think we only had like 4 people apply? We consider ourselves lucky if we get more than 10!
  11. I think you should be OK. I mean, most people don’t start Quant Psych programs with a strong technical background (Mathematics, Statistics, computer programming, etc.). With that being said, however, it’s important to focus on which courses are bringing down your GPA. Like, for instance, if your upper-level Statistics courses are also your lowest grades, it kind of begs the question of how well you can handle mathematical research and stuff like that. Just some stuff to think about.
  12. spunky

    Math/stats?

    In my experience, psychological research tends to be pretty number-heavy, particularly if you’re aiming to publish in the top journals. The whole Crisis of Replicability brouhaha alongside with the movement towards Open Science and is placing a renewed emphasis on proper methodology and statistics. But it does not necessarily *have* to be. I mean, there are some pretty strong published papers out there where the statistics and number-crunching is not particularly complicated because they have very powerful research designs with strong protocols. In my experience, the sophistication of statistical analysis tends to be inversely related to the strength of the research design. The weaker your design, the more advanced the statistical analysis has to be to account for it. But the “mathematization” of psychology (and I guess the social sciences in general) has been going on for a while, particularly with the advent of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, which definitely pushed it forward. If your emphasis is on clinical work more than research, however, I would say a moderate statistical background is at least necessary to be able to evaluate research papers and see whether the claims they make are substantiated or not. But I’d definitely say that, in those cases, you don’t need to be as proficient in statistics as if you were mostly a research psychologist. Still, though, there are programs (mostly in counselling psych, not so much in clinical) that prefer the more qualitative approach to research and the statistics part is kept at a minimum so that could be something to explore if math/stats is not your thing?
  13. This is all good stuff peeps, thanks! I guess I dropped the ball on that one, I’ll remember it for next time. I mean, my name in itself is sufficiently ethnic that people may be able to deduce that either I was not born in Canada (which is the case) or that my immediate family is not from Canada. But then again who knows… this is my first time at this rodeo! I did have to meticulously scrub some social media stuff, remove pictures from my website, etc. Basically the whole “If I were cyber-stalking myself, what would I find?”
  14. So I was thinking about this when I submitted my application. The uni I applied to had a statement in their job description stating that they value diversity (making emphasis on gender diversity) as well as applications from underrepresented groups (which, if my memory serves me right, in Canada it means indigenous people, women, visible minorities and people with disabilities). There’s even an optional form you can attach to your application if you choose to self-identify as any of those groups. I fall in 2 of those categories and thought about filling out the form, but then I ended up getting all kinds of peculiar advice both for and against it. I got everything from “these jobs are hard to get so if they’re giving you the option to boost your application you should” to “your qualifications should speak for themselves irrespective of your gender/race/sexual orientation/etc. You don’t wanna be known as the diversity hire right from the start”. I ended up not saying anything to appear just like any other regular candidate. However, if I don’t get an interview I’ll be left wondering whether or not self-identifying as a minority could have helped.
  15. So I'm officially in now. I sent out my first application for a TT position at the stroke of midnight yesterday (today?). Still have my post-doc to fall back into if nothing pans out this year but I'm very excited to join in the job hunt. I think a MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR is in order for those of us who have volunteered as tributes this year? Regarding this: I got the same advice as with eigen. Unless you screwed up (i.e. you forgot to attach something with your application), the advice is don't contact them, don't thank them, don't do anything. Just sit quietly and wait for the search committee to hopefully smile favourably upon you.
  16. Take this advice with a grain of salt because it’s of a second-hand source and about 3-4 years old (but it does seem to pop up very often). I used to tutor statistics to 2 ladies who got their PhDs in the UK (one from Leeds, one from Edinburgh) and both of them were re-doing their studies and getting MAs in Counselling Psychology at UBC because they just couldn’t cut through the red-tape and ended up giving up. From what I remember they explained to me, it was not like the requirements were impossible but mostly the overall lack of direction. Emails and phone calls that would go unanswered, the classic issue of going to person’s X office and inquiring, just to be directed to person Y who says person X is in charge of this, etc. Overall it seemed like nobody knew what to do and nobody really cared to help out. Eventually they gave up and resorted to becoming counsellors (and still needed to go back to school for that) because counselling in BC is less regulated. I do remember that the lady from Leeds kept pushing through a little bit more centred on the issue that they wanted her to have supervised hours in BC before she could be accredited. But it seems like most people are busy supervising their own doctoral students or other’s doctoral students. So, unfortunately, months or years could go by before a spot opens up for someone from the “outside”, and you also need to take into account that (a) they may not want to take you in and (b) you need live close to the person who is supervising you. In my experience doing research with other people and hearing their own horror stories, it seems like if you’re going to work in some sort of health-related field (at least here in BC) your best options are either to study close where you plan on living because you’ll need those connections to get you “in the system” or make sure you know someone high enough that can get you “in the system”.
  17. I’ve always thought that becoming acquainted with the literature in your area is always the first step to develop your research interests and hopefully, by the end of graduate school, a research program. Now that takes time, though. I have 11 folders with potential PhD dissertation topics that I left unfinished (maybe I’ll start working on them in the future, who knows) before I found “the one”. And I think “the one” usually comes with a question from you or some sort of realization that there’s this area that has gone vastly unexplored or maybe people are looking into it but you have a different idea of how to go about it. Like, you say there are many areas in your field that you find interesting. Pick maybe a few of those many and ask yourself a question that you’re interested in. See who has looked into this and how. Then try making it more specific and keep going until you find an area for you to start doing research and develop. If by the time you’ve got to that level of specificity you no longer find the area compelling or it’s become plain boring, then maybe move on to the next. I honestly feel the majority of us go at this via trial-and-error so I wouldn’t be too worried about not having very defined research interests at this stage.
  18. Uhm... any reason of why you didn't consider publishing them? Or polishing them a little before publishing them? I mean, I kind of feel someone could very well stumble on your blog, read one of your papers and think "oh wow, that's a good idea. I think I'll do a better version of it and publish it!"
  19. Can't really empathize with you, sorry. My graduate school experience has been pretty great. The profs have been helpful, my advisor is awesome and the students in my lab are pretty nice. A tad bit absent from lab/university life if you ask me, but then again we all have stuff to do outside uni. Also, the job prospects are not looking as bad as I thought, all things considered (i.e. the academic job market is tough and getting tougher every year). I guess some people have good experiences and some people have bad ones. Sorry to hear you were on the latter group.
  20. It is, actually. It's a joint Quantitative Psychology/Educational Measurement program. I'm very close to graduating so I started comparing my CV with the CVs of people I knew that had gone on to obtain tenure-track positions and the first thing I noticed was that by the time they had graduated they had A LOT more stuff on their CV than what I have on mine right now
  21. I'm at 4, first-author publications right now (5 if the one that's under review goes through). However, if we're being super honest, I'm somewhat disappointed about that. I feel I could have done more and I squandered my early graduate school years on stuff that did not lead into publications. Most of my friends/colleagues who have gone on to successfully obtain tenure-track positions had a bare minimum of 10 first-author publications in good journals so I plan on using my post-doc year to try and close that gap.
  22. Well, there are other ways (aside from increasing the number of quantitative psychologists) and many of them have already been put in place. Given the relevance that publishing has in academia, journal editors can have a lot of influence in shaping the way in which analyses are carried on and results are presented. For instance, during last year’s annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Dr. Simine Vazire detailed some of the new policies and practices regarding data analysis/methodology that are being enacted in the journals where she serves as an editor in order to improve the quality of manuscripts they receive. Statcheck, in spite of its controversy, is becoming very popular very quickly for editors to automatically check whether or not the reporting of statistics in APA-formatted journals was done right. And I do know for a fact that this is being used by journals because I’ve been contacted by professors in the past asking me about these rather cryptic emails they get regarding whether or not they had "passed" or "failed" Statcheck. There aren’t many quantitative-type psychologists, when compared to the more mainstream subfields like clinical or social/personality, that is definitely true. But this situation is also changing. The relevance that data has in society both inside and outside academia (that buzzword “big data” comes to mind) has definitely brought in a renewed interest in statistics or this new thing, “data science”. SAGE Publishing just conducted a study last year (in which I participated) regarding the role that big data will play now in psychology and the social sciences. They’re supposedly preparing a journal devoted entirely to this. Combine this excitement about data with the change in paradigm that the Crisis of Replicability is bringing about, and I truly thing it’s just a matter of time before statistics/methodology starts playing a more central role in the formation of academic psychologists. Heck, even in this forum I have seen the change. When I first joined, we barely ever had any questions related to Quant Psych/psychometrics. And now I’m pretty sure this is the first time ever we’ve actually had a quant psych applicants’ thread! I’m sure that this change will not happen overnight (although who knows, some exciting stuff is happening very quickly like the OP mentioned in the beginning) but I do think it’s coming. We need it.
  23. I don’t think it’s very common (yet) but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this starts becoming more and more popular as time goes by. I mean, there’s already research out there claiming that the level of statistical/methodological training one gets in Psychology graduate programs is… well… let’s just say not the greatest. Dr Leona Aiken’s famous survey comes to mind, although that’s a tad bit dated now. It’s also not a surprise that the overall misuse of statistics has, in part, contributed to the whole brouhaha of the Crisis of Replicability which for better or worse has been scaring people left and right (methodological terrorism, anyone? ) . So I sense that the discipline is (slowly) trying to make methodological/statistical training a little more central to the formation of psychologists as academics. Last year in the American Psychological Society, APS, annual meeting I remember a lot of post-workshop talks focused on how we can improve statistical and methodological training in graduate programs and a suggestion that kept coming up was identifying, from very early on, the different groups of students with different levels of expertise as far as statistics and methodology goes. My guess is that maybe programs can tailor their training to the different abilities that students have in order to maximize their time in graduate school? Who knows, a lot of things are up in the air right now. The consensus, however, does seem to be that the way in which things have been done in the past is no longer enough and something needs to change.
  24. We have something similar in our department. We use it mostly to try and gauge how many introductory statistics courses (and of which type) will be needed once the new student cohort begins its semester. Because people come to grad school with somewhat different backgrounds in terms of their methodological training (I’ve seen everything from people having introductory grad-level courses in their transcripts as undergrads to the ones who barely passed intro to research methods) something like a quick practice test/interview helps us know the overall level from which people are starting from to plan ahead in terms of the courses they’ll need. I really don’t think this is anything to worry about as far as whether or not they’ll like rescind your invitation to their program or anything.
  25. I've been employed full-time from early in my MA all the way up to my PhD and the thing that always took the most time for me was keeping up with my readings. I learned that commutes (if you take the bus) are wonderful moments to do this and to NEVER let your readings/projects catch up to you. Like the moment you know you have a project or a manuscript or anything that has a due date, get on it right from the start. Even if the prof changes specifications/grading rubric halfway through the semester, it's a lot easier to alter something that's already there rather than you conjuring up brand new stuff 3 days before submitting it. I wouldn't think it's a bad idea to start reading your books if you can get them. As soon as I knew which prof was teaching which class I always approached them weeks before the semester began, explained my situation (i.e. I'm employed full-time) and they always either shared their reading list with me or would be honest and say they're classes were just gonna be in-class lecturing and homework.
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