Reading groups are a great activity whether you are an undergraduate looking for ways to pad your CV and get good letters of recommendation, or a graduate student wanting to be more involved in your program. Seeking out groups that read, discuss and critique peer-reviewed articles is also a great way to immerse yourself in the literature of your field. In this post I will discuss three of the reading groups that I have participated in, as well as suggest some ways to choose and participate in these types of reading groups.
As students have been submitting applications for graduate school, one question that I've been asked many times over is: "Should I waive my right to read the letters of recommendation on my behalf?"
Most of you are familiar with the light-side of science; designing empirical experiments, discovering new information, presenting data and crafting theories. But that is only half of the picture. The often ignored dark-side of science; correcting flawed experiments, criticizing inappropriate data analysis, and tearing down the ideas of fellow scientists. Yes, the peer-review process is a harsh mistress but is equally important to the scientific process (some might argue more so) as its light-sided counterparts. As such, developing a thick-skin to the criticism of others, is a vital step for any developing scientist.
First time authors of a Curriculum Vitae (CV or Vita) can easily be intimidated by the task. If you've never created a resume' (or even if you have) knowing what to write, and how to write, and even in which order to write your vita is a challenge. Hopefully this blog-post can point you in the right direction and by the time you submit your graduate school applications you can have a polished looking vita. Or if you are already in graduate school, dig out the vita you sent with your application and update it with all you've been doing; someday you'll be applying for post-doctoral fellowships or faculty positions and you'll want your vita to look its best.
A minor in a related area can be a great addition to your education if it is well planned. As APS Preseident John T. Cacloppo wrote in September of last year, "Psychology is a Hub Science." This means that psychology as a field integrates with a lot of other scientific disciplines. An academic background in these synergistic fields can make a huge difference in your graduate school applications (and thus your career as a research scientist). Adding in a second field of study is something that ideally would happen early in your academic career, however it is a rare thing to meet a college Freshman that won't change her major at least once during her college career. Peter Vogt, a MonsterTRAK Career Coach, claims that 60% of college students will change their majors at least once before graduating. So what are some useful disciplines to tack on to a psychology major?