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Dr. Hoooooo - Question(2 posts)

Dr. Hoooooo - QuestionFree2Pedal
Oct 31, 2003 1:46 PM
Hey. Thanks for all the good info on schools. Since I don't like to get ALL of my information from strangers on the internet, I've also been chatting about this this with my mentor. I am torn between whether I want to pursue counceling psychology or a more research based discipline like clinical or industrial psychology. If I'm simply going to become a therapist, then it doesn't matter so much where I earn my degree; but if I settle on research or acedemia, it matters very much. What I'm having trouble determining is whether or not I would enjoy or be good at research since I have no experience conducting research. You seem to be a researcher so I thought you might be able to share some insight.

I have a natural bent towards discovery. I like asking unanswerable questions and then pursuing knowledge--I'm not claiming to be good at this, I simply tend to do it by nature. I'm like a very large 3 year old. I'm sure there is a practicle drudgery to research and I want to be well informed about all it involves--lest I romanticize it. So... What qualities does a good researcher possess? What talents and traits would make someone a good fit as a researcher? Do you know of any apptitudes for this specifically? This peice of the puzzle will have a big impact on where I go to school, how long I'm in debt, and if I will retire on Lower Wacker or in a respectable nursing home!!
It's hard to answer those kinds of questions...dr hoo
Oct 31, 2003 4:23 PM
... in this format. This really is a "sit down over coffee" kind of talk. But given that...

Research rules all in academia. To this end, as long as you want to continue to have the research option, you must emphasize that you are REALLY in this education thing to do research. Even if you want to teach, or go clinical, don't speak of it too loudly.

I may be cynical, but I also have some good research experience under my belt that says it is the case, from small schools to major research universities.

The good thing is that you have a "natural bent towards discovery" and pursuing knowledge and all that good stuff. Well, research is where that stuff happens. And if you want to turn to the clinical route after researching for a while, you can with few problems.

Switching from clinical to research is VERY tough.

Good researchers are up on the literature in their areas. They look to the theories involved and how ongoing research impacts those theories. They can see ways to test theoretical extensions. The first hurdle is getting to know this literature.

Good researchers are also able to take the long term view. For example, I have an article published this month. I wrote the grant application for that article in 1999. Patience is needed.

Good researchers can also put in huge hours and bust arse to get work done when needed. It isn't a 9-5 job, and when your research is something that deals with everyday life (like psychology or sociology) then it pretty much becomes a 24/7 job. It can be as intense as you want it to be.

Good researchers can take rejection. Research means writing up results and getting them published. Some things I send out get savaged by the reviewers. A few things go to press with hardly a word altered. You have to put your work out for others to see. Science is a social process. Painfully social at times.

I like doing research a lot. But the road to research is a long and stressful one. Just the reading involved will make your head explode. Profs are crazy, many of them in nasty ways. So if you go that route, don't blame me; you have been warned!

I think a degree from a 4 year liberal arts college will serve you well no matter what you end up choosing to do. If you can find a school that has an undergraduate research emphasis, or one where at least the Psych department does research with its students, then that might be a good place for you. At least to explore your options.

I hope this helps. I can talk about this all day, so if you want more, just ask.