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Melissa Koe's picture

How I Joined a Research Lab

Joining a research lab is a valuable experience as a student. You get to watch or run lab activities and even work on first-hand lab data! Usually, research labs do not require a lot of experience but some experience working with Microsoft Office and Google programs will help you out a lot.

This summer, I had the opportunity to join Dr. Christ’s research lab in the field of educational psychology. I would like to share with you how I got into the research lab and I hope you find this guide helpful!

Finding a research lab

I got recruited into my research lab via the Psych Advising newsletter e-mail sent out every week. To look for research labs, you should keep a look out for the newsletters that your department sends out regarding research lab opportunities. You can also go to your department website and find the lab you are interested in, then contacting the professor running that lab directly.

Interviewing process

For research labs, the most important thing you need to have is availability. Most of the labs recruit volunteers or students using Google Forms, so when you mark out your availability on the form, make sure you mark as much of your free time as possible. Research labs often decide on recruitment based on availability as the main factor. Depending on the research lab, interviews may be different. Usually, they are quite similar to job interviews, but they ask questions to find out more about your lab experience. Do not lie if you do not have experience working in a lab - this is usually not as important. You will be expected to know a few basic programs like Microsoft Excel and Word! Just go through the interview expecting what you would from a job interview - be prepared!


Duties vary from one research lab to the next - even when they are in the same department or major. For my lab, I mostly do data entry and coding where I record and organize data from the study. One of my friends who is in a research lab performs the actual studies even though we are from the same Psychology major. Data entry and coding are the most common duties as a research lab volunteer though! You will be expected to enter and organize data into various programs if you are doing data entry.

That’s all I have right now - I hope you find this guide helpful! Feel free to reach out to me if you need help with any part of signing up for a research lab; I’ll try helping in any way I can!