Psychology 471: Independent Study and Research (I.S.) is an opportunity for the student, under the guidance and support of an experienced faculty advisor, to design a program of research and study from beginning to end. With the help of an advisor, the student selects a topic of study and the procedure to be followed in pursuing the study. Any topic within the broad domain of psychology is permitted, and interfaces between psychological issues and other fields (e.g., biology, literature, theology, education, etc.) are encouraged. The only restriction on the topic is that it be essentially and primarily psychological. This restriction implies that a psychology I.S. will not be suitable for any other department, and an I.S. written in another department will not be acceptable as a psychology I.S.

Many formats may be followed. One can design an empirical investigation, complete with research design, data collection and analysis, and interpretations. One can design a conceptual paper, developing a theoretical model for some issue, and one can review the literature bearing on some psychological issue. One might choose to replicate some research in the literature to see if it holds up today, at Hanover, or with some modification in procedure. One could design a piece of psychological apparatus, a computer program relevant to psychology, or a therapeutic technique to alleviate some distress. There is no format which is universally preferred to any other; the best format is that which is most appropriate for the topic selected.

Independent Study and Research is usually restricted to senior psychology majors who have completed Psy 222 (325). But under highly unusual circumstances, students not meeting these criteria may petition for enrollment. Because of the sophistication of work expected, however, there will be few exceptions.

Under certain circumstances, it will be possible for students to collaborate on a project. The students will work as a team. They will file one report, jointly or multiple authored, and they will be evaluated similarly. It is expected, of course, that the project will be significantly greater than one conducted by an individual. Each student will receive full academic credit for the enrollment.

No later than the first day of the Fall or Winter Term (I.S. will not be permitted in the Spring Term) in which the independent study is to be taken, but preferably much earlier, the student should submit a proposal to the entire department faculty. The proposal should be complete enough so that the staff can evaluate the academic legitimacy, psychological relevance, feasibility, methodological appropriateness, and ethical permissibility of the project. The proposal will be evaluated before the end of the "drop-and-add" period. If the project is deemed suitable, the student will be permitted to enroll in Psy 471 that term. About two-thirds of the independent study proposals to date have earned departmental approval.

All independent studies will culminate in a paper. Some papers may be written in thesis style, meaning that they will tend to be somewhat lengthy, with tangents, extensive literature reviews, and several appendices. Other papers may resemble journal articles (which are quite difficult to write) and, indeed, some may be submitted for publication in a journal. Papers may be written as suitable for oral presentation at a psychological conference. (See "Some Recent Scholarly Activities of Psychology Students.) As a matter of fact, it is hoped that all I.S. projects might be worthy of presentation. Regardless of the topic and the format pursued, a final paper will be written. By the end of the term at least two (2) copies of the paper should be handed in (N.B.: the advisor may require additional copies); one copy will be circulated among and critiqued by the department faculty and retained in departmental files, and the other copy will be filed with the Duggan Library. Specific guidelines for preparing the papers will be distributed by the advisors.

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