Supporting MA Students as Researchers

The following was sent to faculty members via email by Dr. Perry Klein on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016.

This week, we are welcoming a new cohort of students to the Research Intensive MA program. Recently, Pam Bishop and I have been discussing ways of increasing research and leadership opportunities for students in the Research-Intensive Master’s program. This would provide them with valuable learning, and increase the success of Western students in competing for external awards.

In the message that I gave to students at orientation, I encouraged them to think of themselves as researchers from the time that they enter the program. Particularly for students who are planning to proceed to the doctorate and academic or research careers, it will be important to become involved in publishing during the MA years. This will allow them to compete for scholarships, gain admission to doctoral programs, and launch academic or professional careers.

We are asking your help in supporting the growth of research and leadership opportunities for MA students. Here are some practices that are already normal in doctoral education, and many supervisors already also follow these practices with MA students.

What students can do:

  • Talk with your supervisor early in the year about your initial research ideas. This will help you to prepare for the OGS application.
  • Let your supervisor know if you are interested in research assistantships or volunteer opportunities in her or his research projects.
  • If you are interested in being a co-author on publications in your RA ship, talk with your supervisor about this early in the year.
  • Consider writing a review of a recently published book.
  • Watch for announcements about the upcoming Graduate Research and Professional Careers Series,  including the session on Strategies for Planning Publishable Masters Research (Feb 1).

What faculty members can do:    

  • To help students prepare for the OGS application, talk with them about their research ideas early in the year. Once they have a near final draft of the proposal, if you wish, send it to Justin or Perry in the Research Office for feedback.
  • Consider hiring an MA student as a Research Assistant.
  • Consider including Research Assistants or volunteers as co-authors on conference presentations and publications.
  • If a student is interested in becoming involved in your research, and you do not have funds to pay them, consider taking them on as a volunteer research intern for a limited number of hours, and recognizing their contribution by adding them as a co-author on conference presentations and publications.
  • When writing grant applications, consider budgeting to hire MA students as research assistants. Also, consider budgeting so that research assistants can travel to conferences as co-presenters.  This will help students, and demonstrate that you are providing training.
  • Publicize MA student successes, such as conference presentations, journal publications, and awards; these can be forwarded to Cory Habermehl for eCast.
  • As an ARC, consider providing funding to MA students in the form of 0.5 Research Assistantship.  This would be an ARC decision that would be implemented in the following year.
  • Support adding MA and PhD student representatives to the Research Committee, providing them with learning experiences in academic governance and leadership.

Thanks  to the Research Committee and the Program Chairs for their feedback on these ideas.

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