First Semester – PSYENCE FRIDAY


The Beginning (First Semester) 

  1. First things first. This is a LONG process. As in you should start as soon as possible. Your advisor will probably not-so-kindly remind you of this regularly. 
  2. START EARLY 
  3. You can take your first semester to breathe and adjust to grad school if you would like but I would STRONGLY advise you to begin thinking about the beast that will be your thesis during this semester. 
  4. The number one ultimate first thing you need to do is decide what you want to research. Obviously. 
  5. Begin by thinking about what you’re interested in. If you are in the forensic program, your thesis has to be forensic-y so you should start there. 
  6. Once you have a broad idea, begin reading articles in that general area of research to get a sense for what is out there.  
  7. Look for what’s missing. What questions haven’t been answered? What future directions have previous articles suggested haven’t been pursued? What is a novel way to bring new knowledge into this area?  
  8. You should now have a rough idea and a BIG annotated bibliography 
  9. You should now approach your primary advisor. You may have been able to select one or one may have been assigned to you when you entered graduate school. Either way, this person will be your primary go-to for all things thesis. (If you are selecting one, you need to pick someone you KNOW you can work with and who has interests in your same area of research).  
  10. Bring them a well-thought out idea. They can help you hash out the details but you should know your independent and dependent variables and have an idea of how you are going to set your study up.  
  11. They’ll give you ideas (hopefully) and will probably send you back to do more work.  
  12. Word of caution: Some advisors do not like to give a lot of advice. In this situation, it is almost entirely up to you to come up with an idea and create a study. These advisors will want you to have exhausted every possible avenue before coming to them with a million questions. This sounds terrifying and trust me, it is. But it is doable. Use your other resources, like friends and other professors, to get answers if needed.  
  13. You will most likely take Experimental Design in your first semester. Take advantage of it! Pay attention and work on designing your own thesis, if that is not incorporated into the course curriculum. 
  14. Think of who you want on your committee. 
  15. For experimental, you need your chairperson (advisor), one other psychology faculty member, and an outside faculty member (any other department). Total of 3.  
  16. For forensic, you need your chairperson (advisor), one other psychology faculty member, and your outside faculty member has to be from the Forensic Science Institute. Total of 3.  
  17. You can have more than 3 committee members if you would like but 3 are required. You don’t have to have them solidified yet but you should be considering who you would like on your committee. Again, make sure you can work with them.  
  18. Basically, your first semester should consist of you gathering literature and designing your study. If you are really ambitious, you can even write a draft of your literature review and proposed methods to give to your advisor.  
  19. You should have done a lot of work by the end of the semester! And congratulations, you survived one semester of the torture that is graduate school.