Eastern Oregon University > Psychology Department > Student Research in Psychology

Student Research in Psychology

Participation in research is an important component of Eastern’s Psychology Program.

PSY 401 Research (optional)

Students have opportunities to work on research with a faculty mentor and sign up for credit as PSY 401 (variable credits).  Typically, a student will spend about 3 hours per week during the term for each credit of research in PSY 401.  Students should consult individual faculty members to discuss opportunities for this type of research experience.

Psychology capstone requirement

As part of their capstone requirement, students will have opportunities to conduct supervised research or to review the published literature on a topic.

There are three possible options for the capstone.  One option involves the capstone course (PSY 461),  which has a prerequisite course (PSY 460).  A second option is the course PSY 450.  The third option, which has a GPA prerequisite, is PSY 403, Honors Thesis.  The 403 research is typically completed over the course of a year.

  1. PSY 461 Capstone course:  Some students will complete their capstone requirement by enrolling in a prerequisite course (PSY 460, 3 credits) and then a capstone course (PSY 461, 3 credits). In these courses, students typically work individually or in pairs to devise and complete a research project and to present the completed project as a poster.  These courses are graded and typically offered in the fall (prerequisite) and winter (capstone) terms.  This sequence is recommended for students who have a strong background in research methods and statistics (grade of B or higher in STAT 327 or equivalent course is required) and who might be applying to Ph.D. doctoral programs or other graduate programs that have extensive research expectations or requirements.
  2. PSY 450 Capstone course: Other students will complete their capstone requirement by enrolling in one capstone course (PSY 450, 5 credits).  For this course, the primary outcome is a literature review integrating past research on a topic in Psychology. This course typically is offered in spring term. This course is recommended for those students who are planning to go on to Psy.D. programs or Masters programs with a clinical focus, or those students who are not planning on graduate training.
  3. PSY  403, Honors Thesis:  Some students may request to enroll in PSY 403, Honors Thesis, as their capstone, if both of the following conditions are met: a) The student has a GPA of at least 3.33 in coursework in Psychology at the beginning of his/her senior year including a grade of B or higher in STAT 327 or equivalent course. b) The student has approval from an adviser who is a member of the Psychology faculty.  Note: The Honors thesis adviser does not have to be the same person as the student’s academic adviser. This course is recommended as an option for students who meet the criteria and intend to pursue graduate training at the Ph.D. doctoral level. Students sign up for PSY 403 (5 credits) in one term of their senior year and often sign up for PSY 401, Research, during other terms that they work on their honors thesis project.

Psychology 403, Honor Thesis, requires a significant individual research accomplishment by the student. These projects involve an extensive literature review demonstrating a command of previous, related research. The methodology employed should also represent a novel approach to a research problem, not merely a replication of prior work. Students completing an Honors Thesis are expected to work independently, but closely under the supervision of at least one full-time faculty member in Psychology. The project should be viewed as a collaboration with faculty to ensure that the literature review is complete and accurate, that the methods are carefully thought out, and that the results are appropriately analyzed and interpreted. Students completing an Honors Thesis are expected to write a full-length journal-style paper, submit their results to the EOU Science Journal, and should consider submitting a poster for a national or regional conference.  Honors Thesis students must also defend their research thesis in a presentation to the psychology faculty.
It is expected that students will work on their thesis project for more than one term. The options for this include (a) enrolling in PSY 403 for one term and then carrying a grade of “I” over until the project is finished, or (b) enrolling in PSY 401 Research for the first term, or terms, and then enrolling in PSY 403 during the term the project will be completed. Students should meet frequently with their adviser to ensure they are meeting deadlines and faculty expectations.

Frequently asked Questions:

  1. Can a student sign up for both the capstone course (461) and an Honors Thesis (PSY 403)?
    If a student meets the GPA requirement for PSY 403, has the approval of a thesis adviser, and has a project in mind, he/she should probably take PSY 403 instead of PSY 461 and its prerequisite course.  If a student wants to enroll in PSY 461 and count it toward the upper-level requirements for the major, and then enroll in PSY 403, that  student should discuss the situation with their Honors thesis adviser.  The main concern is that the Honors Thesis project cannot be exactly the same research that was done for credit in PSY 461. Adding a follow-up study, increasing the sample size, or looking at new measures are some possible ways to connect the 461 project to the 403 thesis.
  2. Where do I get ideas for a PSY 403 research project?
    Finding ideas for a research project can be difficult. We suggest that if you are interested in completing an honors thesis that you begin discussing your ideas and options with a psychology faculty member immediately.  Often faculty have ongoing research projects that students can get involved with. In other cases faculty may have interesting suggestions or the outcome of a discussion may lead to interesting projects.
  3. What if I don’t complete my honors thesis before I graduate?
    The faculty strongly discourage this! Projects that are not completed before a student leaves campus are rarely completed.  Remember it is the student’s responsibility to communicate with their faculty research adviser frequently to prevent this.  If the research credits are needed for graduation, they must be completed before commencement.
  4. What if my research project doesn’t turn out as expected?
    Not all research projects work out.  If the project was carefully planned, carefully executed, and completed it may still be used for your honors thesis.  
  5. Can I use human or animal subjects in my research project?
    Yes.  However, all research using human subjects must be approved by EOU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Research involving animal subjects must be pre-approved by the department.  If animals subjects are needed, you need to discuss this with your adviser early to ensure that animal subjects are available for your project.
  6. What is involved in defending my 403 honors thesis?     Your thesis defense is a presentation of your thesis to the psychology faculty.  Faculty will often have questions about methodology, data analysis, and the significance of your research.  Be prepared to discuss these issues completely.