Lab Members: Get Research Ready [Outdated]

Author(s): Brandy Perkl, Ph.D.

Originally posted: November 20, 2014
Tech Recommendations Disclaimer: The tools the University pays for change periodically so this advice may go out of date easily or not apply other places than the University of Arizona or my lab specifically, I always recommend using the tech your school supports so you can call them for help and so it's free to you. Unless you're planning to go to graduate school, then find what works best for you and get comfortable with it fast because you'll be using it for YEARS.

The first thing new students in my lab often need to do is get research-ready - here's how to do that.


Complete HSPP Training

All lab members must have completed the required courses in Human Subjects Protection. Our research regularly deals with human subjects (or at the least, data derived from human subjects). You must complete the (free + online) training listed here before you begin any research work. The Office for the Responsible Conduct of Research can help you with this if you need it. If you have already completed this that's fine, but I have to personally have a copy of your certificate.

Have a Reference Management Method

I recommend you start by installing Zotero Standalone + your Browser Extension (if you already use a reference management software and consider yourself proficient with it, we can discuss your skipping this step) - be sure to take some time to try using the standalone and the browser stuff - look around them, do all the steps, and test out using both. Play with them a little, get comfortable. Don't forget to grab the plugins if you think they'll come in handy.

After you install it will walk you through working with it, so just begin. You can also look at the detailed Start guide here, or a more attractive user guide here.

Tip: I strongly recommend installing ZotFile and have it set up to use an online database to store my files. It's not safe to store your Zotero directory in the cloud, but your files can be kept there easily so you never need to pay for storage. (If you use Chrome like me you'll have to right click on the extension download button, save it, and then add it to Zotero manually by going to Tools --> Add-ons --> use the little icon in the top right to Install Add-on from File. Once you do that you'll use this same page to access the Options for it.) This little helper can also be set up to automatically rename all your PDFs and things. It's like having a real live secretary to file your references.

Zotero accepts references in the following formats - this guide on importing is very comprehensive:

  • BibTeX, RIS, Refer/BibIX, MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema), & Unqualified Dublin Core RDF

  • You can also import webpages (a very good habit to get into for any you might want to reference), PDFs, etc.

Note: If you end up creating anything which you then share with others using this site, you'll have to use Zotero so you can also use the Zotpress plugin (already installed) to add perfect references to your post.

Grow Your Google Skills

As a UA student you already have a Google Apps for Ed account - and you can always delete it later should you no longer want it. For both of those reasons, it's what I require you to use for collaboration. (Plus it's very easy to learn.)

  • If you want a more complete introduction to your Google Apps for Education account, you can explore this page.

  • We use Drive (introduction) and Hangouts (introduction) for collaboration regularly. Make sure you at least know what they are.

  • If you've never edited a Google Doc collaboratively before, watch this video. Now you'll know the basics!


Refresh Your Basic Knowledge

If it's been a while since you took certain college courses like Research Methods and Statistics for Business or Psychology (or if you've never taken them) you should review Lesson 2 of this (free + online) Udacity course.

Prepare Google Scholar

It is very likely you will be asked to search for articles at some point, Google Scholar is an excellent place to start, so you should bookmark it and set it up by following these instructions from the library.

You may also want to bookmark the UA Library Databases if you haven't already. However, I prefer using Summon now that it's live. I usually find my articles using Google Scholar and then go plug the DOI into Summon by using the Advanced Search option (change the first field to DOI). One and done.

Tip: If you use Chrome you may also want to install the EZProxy extension, it could save you hours of time if you do your research off campus like I do.


For longer-term or multi-student projects

We will use a project management app known as Asana to help keep us from losing files in email, not knowing where people are on things or who is supposed to complete what, etc. You can learn the basics of Asana here. I will have to enroll you in our team, so you can wait to brush up on these skills until then (unless you've been looking for a great self-management tool, then get started).

For Independent Study

If you are completing an Independent Study for course credit with UA South you also need to complete and submit the Independent Study Proposal Form and Policies found here.

For Meta-Analysis Projects

If you are going to be working on one involving meta-analysis, please review the following as well:

  1. Brief Overview of the Meta-Analysis Process

  2. Review Articles & Meta-Analysis (for I-O Psychology)


I am not a technology guru, but I'm also very comfortable with it and I know that can be difficult for some who work with me to adapt to. Working with me will teach you how to be part of a virtual team - even if we do a lot of interacting face to face. You have to be willing to adopt some of my methods, to test, to make a mistake (which is completely fine and normal and if you do fail it just means you learned something). You can't break anything I set up, so it's not a big deal to play and figure out these systems. It's more important that you do use them for us to work well together.

And always, always ask me what I am talking about if you don't understand. I never want to be talking to you in the wrong language!