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Undergraduate research....what if it's in a different field than the field I am applying to?


gnomechomsky22

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I have a BS in Psychology from the school I currently attend as a grad certificate student. I am intending to apply to the Human Factors Ph.D. program at this school this fall, but I don't have any research in that particular area. I have some research experience in I/O but it is extraordinarily difficult to secure a volunteer position in the Human Factors labs. I have tried applying, emailing grad students asking if they knew of any open positions, etc. but I have had no luck. Is my entire application doomed if I have no undergraduate research in the field I am intending to apply to? Should I forgo the Ph.D. idea and try to get my master's degree instead?

Edited by gnomechomsky22
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This might be more field specific, but I think research of any kind is a plus on an application. They are not looking for the results of your research; they just want to know that you have done some before, that you understand the mental processes involved in thinking in research-mode. Methodology can be learnt, skills can be learnt, but the right attitude, the right mentality and psychological approach to research IMO is what is more important. 

 

On my application I listed down archaeological and linguistic UG research, but no ethnographic experience (my field is cultural and ergo, ethnographic research) but my lack wasn't a problem obviously, since I got accepted. 

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Any research experience will count for a lot. Maybe in Human Factors it's also crucial to have research experience within the subfield, that I don't know. But any proven ability to conduct research, carry a project through, design and run experiments, write up a final product, etc. is extremely valuable, even if it comes from a different field.

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Theoretically I/O psychology overlaps slightly with Human Factors. I applied for any/all research positions I am eligible for and I have been plugging away at Human Factors positions (but most of the labs are looking for people with backgrounds in programming, EE and CS to run their websites and program certain parts of projects). They already seem to have enough RAs and there is not much turnover until they graduate. 

 

Thanks for your input. I have asked a few grad students and professors, a few of them have offered me the same advice, so I think being heavily involved in research will help regardless. 

Edited by gnomechomsky22
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