Summer-Time Voluntary Research Assistant (VRA) Scheme
Guidelines for Students and Supervisors
Placement Duties: The placements on Summer-Time VRA schemes involve voluntary work in the broadly-defined areas of psychology, research and psychology-related roles. This may include duties such as literature searching, study design, ethics applications, preparing materials, recruiting participants, collecting data (e.g., interviews, questionnaires), coding data, data entry, and statistical analysis and all relevant administrative work. It may also involve shadowing a supervisor or supervisor’s colleagues in their work, attend meetings, and any other activities that reflect the professional environment of the placement.
Assigning Placements: Placement details (e.g., field or research topic, supervisor(s), duties, location, duration, preferred dates, any special requirements such as skills, CRB, own car) will be advertised to students who are at the end of Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 in the Psychology, Education and Psychology, Criminology and Psychology, and Psychology with Law courses at the University of Southampton. Students will apply for the scheme, ranking all placements that they are willing to commit to working on in order of preference, and providing a supporting statement of interests, career plans, skills, and prior experience. The scheme coordinators will assess all applications and assign the best students to placements based on their experience, availability, interests, and career plans.
Working Hours and Dates: Placements may take place during the summer anytime between June and September. Hours may vary from 1-2 days per week for 3-4 months, to full-time for two weeks, or any arrangement in between, depending on the project. The placement supervisor should indicate their preference before advertising, and specific arrangements can be agreed between the students and supervisor prior to commencing the placement.
Project Commitment: Students should be committed to this work to the same level as a paid job. That is, they must be reliable and punctual, and must inform their supervisor at least a day in advance if they cannot come in when scheduled. Reliability is one important factor that supervisors consider when providing letters of reference.
Project Involvement: Supervisors should introduce and discuss their work, including the aims, design, and implications of projects with their students to help them learn as much as possible from their involvement. Students should feel free to ask questions and provide input and suggestions. A placement should provide students with an understanding of the work and possible careers in this field. It may be helpful for supervisors to discuss career options with students.
Supervision: For internal placements, psychology staff and psychology PGR students can supervise VRAs. When a PGR student supervises VRAs, the PGR’s supervisor should be listed on the project and should oversee the PGR’s supervision of the VRA.
Ethical Considerations: Students should not be asked to carry out any duties for which they are not qualified.
If VRAs are to collect data: They should be named on the ethical approval (requiring an amendment to existing studies). They should also be named on eFolio (e.g., as a study administrator) and on the Information Sheet. VRAs should not collect data for studies if both of the following conditions apply: 1) students in their cohort are taking part AND (a) participation in the study reveals something sensitive about participants (e.g., that they have a particular illness). Supervisors should discuss issues of confidentiality and ethical treatment of participants with VRAs.
If VRAs are to handle data: They should not be given access to personally identifying information from participants. VRAs may only access identifiable data (e.g., videotapes) from student participants in their cohort if the participants consent knowing that the VRA is involved with the project.
Health and Safety: For external placements, the supervisor will need to complete a brief Health & Safety checklist before the placement commences, which should be returned to Allyson Marchi and Maria Andryszczyk-Sikorska at the address below.
Contact: Students should direct any questions about their project or work to their supervisor. Questions about the scheme itself should be directed to the scheme administrators (Maria Andryszczyk-Sikorska, M.M.Andryszczyk-Sikorska@soton.ac.uk; Allyson Marchi, A.Marchi@soton.ac.uk).