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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2008
Uses of the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research
Christopher Koch, PhD, George Fox University (OR)

The Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research is a national, fully reviewed, quarterly journal dedicated to the publication of undergraduate student research with the purpose of fostering and rewarding the scholarly efforts of undergraduate psychology students as well as providing them with a valuable learning experience in the publication process. The articles primarily represent the work of the undergraduate student(s) although faculty supervisors deserving recognition can be co-authors. Stephen F. Davis, the first editor of the Psi Chi Journal for Undergraduate Research, commented that the journal "has succeeded in achieving its goal” and that through it "student professional development is enhanced” (Psi Chi, n.d.). Davis further noted that a strength of the journal is that it covers the breadth and diversity within psychology (Davis & Wertheimer, 2000). This breadth and diversity allows the Psi Chi Journal to be used in a variety of ways.

Psi Chi Journal as a Venue for Student Publications
The research process starts with making observations and developing questions. A research design is then created to assess the question. The study is piloted and modified as needed before being conducted. The data are analyzed and results interpreted in regard to the original research questions and theory. The final step in this process is to disseminate the findings so that others know about the research you have done and its importance (Dana & Yendol-Silva, 2003).

Since Psi Chi’s purpose is to "encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship” and part of its mission is to "advance the science and the profession of psychology,” there are Psi Chi programs that address all aspects of the research process. For instance, grants are available to develop research ideas and conduct studies. The grants require an advisor so that a mentoring relationship is established between a student and faculty member. Paper and poster sessions at regional and national conferences provide one way to present research findings. Another way to disseminate research is through the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. These research experiences and presentation and publication opportunities provide a context for a significant amount of learning to take place outside of the classroom to help better prepare student members to engage in the science and practice of psychology (cf., Giordano, 2002).

However, undergraduate journals provide more than an outlet for encouraging undergraduate research. For instance, publishing in an undergraduate journal can improve an admission committee’s perception of an applicant to graduate school (Ferrari, Weyers, & Davis, 2002). Students also learn about the publication process by submitting research to an undergraduate journal and, as a result, tend to publish more than students who do not submit papers to an undergraduate journal (Koch, 2006). Publishing in an undergraduate journal can also highlight the use of a department’s facilities and the quality of learning experiences taking place outside of the classroom (e.g., Decker, 2001).

Psi Chi Journal as a Teaching and Learning Tool
The Psi Chi Journal can also be used as a tool for teaching and learning (cf., Suter & Frank, 1986), as noted in Table 1. In fact, some professors require its use in research methods courses. Students can use the Psi Chi Journal to get ideas for their own research. The Journal can also serve as a source of encouragement—"other students have published their research, so can I.” Submission to the Psi Chi Journal can be a stated goal for independent study or special research courses.
Table 1: Possible Uses of the Journal in the Classroom Research Methods
  1. Read articles in the Psi Chi Journal to help generate ideas for psychological research
  2. Critique articles to help improve writing skills
  3. Submit a paper to the Psi Chi Journal to learn more about the publication process
History and Systems of Psychology
  1. Read interviews concentrating on the future of psychology and write a paper about how the discipline will look 10 years from now
  2. Read interviews focusing on the academic lineage of psychologists making connections between their mentor’s specialties and beliefs and their own impact on the profession
  3. Conduct and submit an interview with a prominent psychologist
Interviews as Teaching and Learning Tools
While these course uses are extremely valuable and match the intended purpose of the Psi Chi Journal, we (Psi Chi) are always looking for new ways to expand the use of the Journal. Consequently, a new section will be added to the Psi Chi Journal starting in the Spring 2008 issue (volume 13). This section will include one or two interviews with prominent psychologists. The goal of the interviews is to let readers know more about key figures in the discipline, their development as students, and their opinions about the future of psychological research. The hope is that these interviews will not only be interesting and inspiring to our readers but eventually become useful for teachers of the history of psychology. Although upcoming interviews in volume 13 of the Journal have been conducted by the editor, another goal for this section is to have student members conduct and submit interviews. In Table 2, I have included some sample questions to use in the interview. There are many ways to conduct an interview. However, an excellent way to conduct an interview and utilize several Psi Chi programs is to attend a regional or national psychology conference, attend the corresponding Psi Chi program, and interview a psychologist who is presenting an invited address or other type of research presentation.
Table 2: Potential Questions
1. How did you become interested in psychology?

2. Who was your mentor?
a. What did he or she do that was particularly meaningful for your development as a psychologist?

b. How much of your academic lineage or "family tree” do you know?

c. Do you have any advice for maximizing one’s graduate school experience?

3. What is your source or inspiration for research ideas?

4. Do you have any tips for developing a successful research program?

5. What is psychology’s biggest problem today?

6. Where is psychology as field headed?
a. What will be the most important areas of psychological research in the future?

b. What is the biggest area(s) of application for the psychology?

c. Are there any social issues that psychology should address?

A personal connection between a faculty member at your school and a prominent psychologist (maybe your advisor’s mentor) can serve as an avenue for conducting an interview as well.

The questions you ask in an interview can be tailored to your interests and the specialty area of your interviewee but must be professional in nature. In order to maximize the use of the interviews in psychology courses, I suggest that interviewers include questions about academic lineage in all interviews. To prevent an individual from being asked multiple times for an interview, a list of psychologists included in this section of the Psi Chi Journal is available on the Psi Chi website under "Past Issues”. The suggested length of the interview is approximately 1,000 words.

The Psi Chi Journal serves an important role in developing professional skills among undergraduates since it provides an outlet for their research and an avenue for learning more about the publishing process—the journal is also a valuable learning tool. Whether articles are used to help design, conduct, and present research or to provide supplemental material in a class, the Psi Chi Journal can be used in a variety of ways to enhance learning. Therefore, continue to use this resource by reading it, submitting research articles to it, and submitting interviews to it as well. Be creative in how you incorporate it into your learning experience and feel free to share how you use the Journal through the National Office or future Eye on Psi Chi articles.

Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Silva, D. (2003). The reflective educator's guide to classroom research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Davis, S. F., & Wertheimer, M. (2000). An oral history of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. Chattanooga, TN: Psi Chi.

Decker, J. (2001). A word from the acting director of the office of science. U.S. Department of Energy Undergraduate Research Journal. Retrieved from JUR_v1/pdf/JUR1_Director.pdf.

Ferrari, J. R., Weyers, S., & Davis, S. F. (2002). Publish that paper—but where? Faculty knowledge and perceptions of undergraduate publications. College Student Journal, 36(3), 335-343.

Giordano, P. J. (2002). Psi Chi and teaching with our mouths shut. In W. Buskist, V. Hevern, & G. W. Hill, IV, (Eds.). Essays from e-xcellence in teaching, 2000-2001 (chap. 17). Retrieved September 20, 2007 from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site:

Koch, C. (2006). Publishing and the Psi Chi Journal. In V. A. Mathie (Chair), Psi Chi teaching workshop. Symposium conducted at the 18th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, New York, NY.

Psi Chi (n.d). Journal commendations. Retrieved January 12, 2008, from

Suter, W. N., & Frank, P. (1986). Using scholarly journals in undergraduate experimental methodology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 13, 219-221.

Chris Koch, PhD, received a BS in psychology with honors from Pennsylvania State University, a MS in experimental psychology, and a PhD in cognitive-experimental from the University of Georgia. He is currently in his 12th year at George Fox University (OR) where he has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology, Director of External Scholarship, and headed University Assessment. During that time, he has also promoted research in psychology by planning a biannual undergraduate research conference, editing the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Psychology, and working with youth organizations and local high school classes on psychologically-based research projects. He has served as a councilor for the Psychology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the President and Western Region Vice-President of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. He has held a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities at the University of Virginia, was a Fulbright Scholar to Russia, and is a fellow of the Western Psychological Association. His primary research interests focus on the interaction between attention and cognitive and perceptual processes.

Copyright 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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