Term-Time Voluntary Research Assistant (VRA) Scheme
Guidelines for Students and Supervisors
Project Assignment: The VRA scheme administrators will assign each new VRA to a project based on their availability, experience, and research interests. Once that project is completed, the VRA may continue to work with the same supervisor if both parties choose.
Amount of Input: As standard, VRAs are expected to commit to about 4 hours per week during term times. During university breaks, VRAs (if available) may work a few hours per week or more intensively for a shorter period of time. Hours are flexible and should be agreed between the VRA and supervisor prior to commencing each project or part of a project.
Project Commitment: VRAs should be committed to this work to the same level as a part-time job. That is, they must be reliable and punctual. Please inform your supervisor at least a day in advance if you cannot come in when scheduled. Reliability is one important factor that supervisors consider when providing letters of reference.
BSc Degree Commitment: During term time, VRAs’ degree work takes priority. Supervisors should be sensitive to degree commitments when making demands of VRAs. Nevertheless, committing to the VRA scheme is partly intended to building students’ time management skills, and VRAs must provide their supervisor with a justification if they need to reduce their hours.
Involvement in Projects: Supervisors should introduce and discuss the aims, design, and implications of the project with VRAs to help them learn as much as possible from their involvement. VRAs should feel free to ask questions and provide input and suggestions.
Location: The location of where VRA’s work should be carried out will be determined by the activities assigned by the supervisor. While most VRA work is carried at the University, it is possible that some VRA work can be carried out from home.
Supervision: Psychology staff and psychology PGR students can supervise VRAs. When a PGR student supervises VRA(s), the PGR’s supervisor should be listed on the project and should oversee the PGR’s supervision of the VRA.
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.
Contact: VRAs should direct any questions about their project or work to their supervisor. The supervisor should be available to answer VRA’s questions. For many projects, it may be necessary for the supervisor to be available in person during the first few hours that a VRA spends on a project. Questions about the VRA scheme itself should be directed to the scheme administrator (Jacob Juhl, J.T.Juhl@soton.ac.uk).