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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The Psychology department encourages all students to consider conducting research under the direction of a faculty member.

Independent Study

There are many opportunities to get involved in research at Miami, both in and out of our department. Up to 40% of Psychology majors work on independent research projects under the direction of a faculty member. During the academic year, these students enroll in Independent Study (PSY 177, 277, 377, or 477). Summer opportunities are also available.

Interested students should contact faculty directly to inquire about opportunities to conduct research.

Note: PSY 177, 277, 377, and 477 are credit/no-credit courses. As a result, the hours taken through these courses do not count toward the required minimum of 36 psychology hours and grades in these courses do not affect students’ overall or psychology GPAs.

students presenting a research poster

Course Based Research Opportunities

The Psychology department also offers research opportunities through some of our courses such as the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) and Broadening Undergraduate Research in Behavioral Neuroscience (BURP-BN). These are excellent experiences for students desiring hands-on experience in research.

What is BURP-BN?

The BURP-BN program is a year-long Structured Research Experience in behavioral neuroscience; this is an exciting research field that is rapidly increasing in popularity. The program aims to meet the tremendous demand for undergraduate research opportunities in behavioral neuroscience that cannot be met by the limited number of positions available in Miami faculty research laboratories. Students will benefit from rich and multifaceted interactions with researchers and faculty mentors. The program also provides a venue for peer collaboration and advanced academic inquiry among students.

Who is it for?

Participation in the program is offered to advanced undergraduate students (juniors and seniors) with strong academic records who want to be involved in undergraduate research in Behavioral Neuroscience. This is a perfect opportunity for students concerned about finding an opportunity to participate in behavioral neuroscience research prior to graduation from Miami. Students interested in pursuing graduate degrees in psychology and/or neuroscience are especially well-suited for participation in the program.

How does it work?

By joining the program, students commit to a year-long research experience, spanning the Fall, Winter, and Spring semesters.

Fall Term

Students will enroll in PSY 320 (3 credits). Participation will involve:

  • Complete online and hands-on animal training
  • Extensively review literature
  • Generate an empirical question/hypothesis with a suitable experimental design

Winter Term

Students will enroll in Structured Research Experience in Behavioral Neuroscience, PSY 352 (3 credits). As part of this immersive laboratory experience, they will:

  • Learn to conduct a series of behavioral assays used in rodents
  • Analyze, interpret, and present findings from their research
  • Learn about specific methods for manipulating brain function within the context of behavioral neuroscience experiments
  • Observe electrophysiological recording, intracranial surgery, drug infusions, intracardial perfusions, and histological analysis

Spring Term

Students will enroll in Structured Research Experience in Behavioral Neuroscience II, PSY 452 (3 credits). Participation will involve:

  • Work in small teams to conduct student-led research projects
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data
  • Present posters on their work at the Undergraduate Research Forum (URF)
  • Revise their URF posters and presentations for presentation at the Hinkle poster session in Psychology at the end of the semester
  • Submit a manuscript to the Psychology Department’s Undergraduate Research Journal (COMPASS) or another journal and revise the manuscript based on reviewer feedback

Where can I find more information?

Email Dr. Jennifer Quinn at for more information.

What are some of our former BURP-BN students doing now?

  • PharmD at the Ohio State College of Pharmacy
  • PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign
  • PhD in Neuroscience at NEOMED/Kent State University
  • MS degree in Pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati
  • PhD in the Biomedical Sciences Training Program at Case Western Reserve University
  • DVM at St. Georges University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Research assistant in Psychiatry department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
  • Accelerated master’s program in Nursing at Mount St. Joseph University
  • PhD in Neuroscience at Marquette University
  • MA in the Social Sciences program at the University of Chicago
  • Clinical Research Coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
  • MD/PhD at Case Western Reserve University
  • DO at Marian University medical school
  • MS in Modern Human Anatomy at the University of Colorado – Anschutz
  • Animal Behavioral Core technician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
  • MS degree in the Biomedical Research Techniques program at the University of Cincinnati

Becoming a Participant

Students enrolled in Introductory Psychology have the opportunity to serve as a participant in ongoing research studies. Your participation serves two purposes: 1. You obtain a better understanding of the methods of psychological research by serving as a participant instead of merely reading about research, and you are able to witness current developments within the field of psychology first hand; 2. Your participation contributes to the discipline of psychology by providing researchers with a valuable source of information. The satisfaction of these two objectives requires the mutual respect and cooperation of the participant and the researcher.

Procedures for Signing up for Research Participation

The Sona Experiment Management System provides Miami University students with an easy-to-use, web-accessible, regulation-compliant interface to handle all the scheduling and management of psychology studies. Students can sign up for studies online and administrators can ensure students have completed all their requirements. This is all done from a simple, quick interface that can be accessed from any web browser, and is available 24 hours a day.

Students can easily log on to the system and view available studies and the times they may participate in those studies. Through our system, students can sign up for their desired study with the click of a button, and cancel appointments up until a specified cancellation deadline. Students are prevented from signing up for a study for which they do not qualify, due to participation restrictions or other reasons. At any time, they can view the number of requirements they need to fulfill, and their progress so far.


If you later discover that you cannot attend the research session, contact the researcher at least 24 hours in advance of the session. You can usually reach the researcher by e-mail or phone; see your online schedule for instructions.

Setting Up Your Account

To request step by step directions please email

Access SONA

Visit our SONA Systems Research Participation and Sign-Up page

Research Participants’ Rights and Responsibilities

When you volunteer to participate in a research project sponsored by the Department of Psychology, you have specific rights. In addition, your promise to participate is associated with certain responsibilities.

Your rights revolve around the issues of “Confidentiality,” “Informed Consent” and “Educational Benefit.”


Your identity will remain anonymous and your responses will be kept confidential. In any presentation of the results of the research project, there will be no mention of your name. Furthermore, the results of the project will be presented so that no one will be able to identify your particular performance in the project.

Informed Consent

The issue of “Informed Consent” involves several principles that will be discussed separately. The first principle is that you must be informed of the possibility of any risks related to your participation in the project.  Examples of risks include the possibility of nausea, physical pain, or unusual anxiety or stress. Unusual anxiety or stress is meant to imply more stress or anxiety than one would expect in the day‑to‑day activities of a student. The possibility of risk must be mentioned at the beginning of the session and you must be given the opportunity of withdrawing from the project without penalty.

The second principle is that after you have been informed about the research project, you may refuse to participate. This principle means that after the researcher has explained what the research is about and what is expected of you, you may decide to withdraw from the project. In addition, it is your right to decide, at any time, to withdraw from participation in the project.

You may ask questions about the research any time. If you have questions about your rights as a human subject you may call or e-mail the office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship at (513) 529-3734 or

Educational Benefit

In exchange for the time and effort you expend when you participate in a research project, you must receive some educational benefit.  In addition to the actual experience, which may include observing sophisticated pieces of equipment, discovering something about yourself, or learning something new about psychology, you must be told about the purpose of the research and the anticipated results.  This education usually takes the form of a “debriefing” at the conclusion of the research session, when the researcher describes the project and the progress made to that point in time.  The researcher should answer any questions you might have about the project or how it relates to psychology as a whole.  You will usually find that the researcher is eager to discuss the project with you.

In rare instances, the researcher cannot discuss the project as a whole or your performance in particular.  One reason for this is that it would be unethical to reveal tentative or unreliable findings.  The project might involve misinformation which cannot be revealed at this time.  In this event, the researcher will present a general description of the project at the time of the session and will furthermore provide a fuller explanation of the research project at the conclusion of the project.

In all cases, at the conclusion of the research session, you will be given an “Education Sheet” that provides the name of the person in charge of the project, a reference so that you may read more about the project or the general area if you desire, and a brief description of the project. It will also provide documentation that you have completed the experiment should a question arise about your number of research hours. If you become interested in the project, be sure to talk to the person in charge of the project. KEEP THIS SHEET FOR YOUR RECORDS.

Your Responsibilities

You have two major responsibilities once you sign up to participate in a research project:

  1. Attend the session for which you volunteered. It is often the case that a research session requires a certain number of participants. Your failure to attend a session is not only an inconvenience to the researcher but it may make participation by others less meaningful.
  2. Make every effort to arrive at the session on time. Punctuality is particularly important for those projects which require that several students participate together since your late arrival will either delay others or preclude you from participating in that session.

If you are unable to attend the session, or if you are unable to arrive on time, please attempt to let the researcher know.

Introductory Psychology

Students enrolled in Introductory Psychology (PSY 112) are required to fulfill a research experience requirement.

Parental Consent Form

Students in Introduction to Psychology at Miami University who have not reached the age of 18 years must have a Parental Consent Form on file in the department.

The Department of Psychology at Miami University maintains a Research Experience Requirement as part of its introductory psychology course (PSY 112). The purpose of this requirement is for course participants to learn about research in the department as subjects. As examples of the types of research activities going on in the department, participants may be asked to complete surveys, view and respond. Any student who wishes to serve as a subject in an experiment must sign a written consent form, which is intended to indicate that the participant understands:

  • The types of activities in which he/she will engage in the experiment.
  • That his/her participation is voluntary.
  • That he/she has the right at any time to withdraw from the experiment without penalty.

A final condition for completing the consent form is that the participant acknowledges that he/she is at least 18 years old. Because your son/daughter is not currently 18 years old, the Department of Psychology must obtain your written consent to allow them to participate. This written consent will be kept by the Department of Psychology. At the time of the experiment, your son/daughter will sign the consent form indicating that they are under the age of 18 years old and have written parental consent on file with the department.

Parental Consent forms can be requested in the main office, Psychology Building 100. 

Department of Psychology

90 North Patterson Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056