Tips for choosing a Junior Advisor in the Psychology Department:
In the Psychology department independent work consists of a fall paper and a spring paper. The fall junior paper is typically a literary review. This means that the professor you choose will assign you papers on a subject that you are interested in or that relates to the professor’s work. You will synthesize and summarize these papers. The fall junior paper will be graded by this professor alone and will count for 40% of your overall junior independent work grade. The spring junior paper is either a research proposal for your senior thesis or a variation of the work you did in the fall semester. This work will count for 60% of your overall grade and will be graded by two readers: your professor and another professor in the department.
Choosing an advisor for the FALL term:
In the beginning of the year the psychology department sends out a survey asking you to rank your preferences for your advisor. First consider any of the teachers that have taught you already. Ask yourself if you liked any of them or are interested in any of their research. If you have a in mind then approach them in person or email them and ask them to advise you for the fall term. Don’t be too concerned about picking the perfect advisor because you have the option of picking a new advisor for the spring term.
If you do not have a relationship with any of the Professors in the psychology department then go on the following website: https://psych.princeton.edu/people/faculty/all. Look through the professors and read about their research. Make a list of five professors based on common research interests. Narrow down this list by asking friends/ classmates if they have taken any of their classes or had any one-on-one experiences with them. Narrow the list down to two professors and schedule a meeting with both of them. Show up to the meeting with a list of questions about your interests and what the junior fall paper would look like. After meeting with them choose one! Again, do not be too concerned with picking the perfect professor, as this is only your fall paper. Alternatively you can have the department assign a professor on your behalf.
Choosing an advisor for the SPRING term:
Choosing your junior spring advisor is a bit more serious than choosing your junior fall advisor because this advisor will presumably become your thesis advisor. Don’t worry because you are not tied down to anything. You can always switch if you want a different advisor for senior year but it is good to start out with the possibility that the person you choose will become your senior thesis advisor. The process of choosing your spring advisor is very similar to the steps described above. Depending on the professor that you choose and whether you know what you want your senior thesis to be on, you will either write a literature review or a research proposal. The literature review will be similar to the one you wrote your fall paper on. The research proposal will be a proposal for your senior thesis and will require you to think a lot about how you want to spend the next year and a half in terms of your independent work.
Interactions with your junior advisor for FALL and SPRING:
Your interactions with your junior fall advisor will most likely be limited given that many of the professors are busy with teaching, research, and the seniors that they are advising. However, this is not something to be worried about. If you are someone who needs constant feedback and guidance and you are not receiving it from your fall junior paper, don’t worry too much about it. The nature of the assignment is very contained and will have little to do with your senior independent work, which is the most important part of this whole process. Your interactions with your junior spring advisor will be a bit more interactive. My advice is to schedule monthly meetings with your professor to keep you on track. This will help you set due dates for yourself so that you are not rushing to finish writing your research proposal/spring literature review during the last few weeks before it is due. Also, make sure to ask your advisor if you can send them a draft before you turn in the final draft. Plan accordingly because often times they need a couple weeks to look over a draft.
For more information on junior-independent-work review the following website: ://psych.princeton.edu/junior-independent-work