Research Assistant Opportunities

What is a Research Assistant?

An undergraduate research assistant can do many things. In the past, we have had people running experiments at COSI, running experiments in the Lab, working on programming tasks and applications, and assisting with more logistical things. If you have other ideas for participation, please let us know!

We have had undergraduates become RAs from a variety of different majors. You do not need to have taken any specific classes or have any specific training to become involved in research.

Unfortunately, we don’t have money to fund undergraduate research assistants at the moment. We do offer a way to gain experience in a fun lab, however, and many of our RAs have presented work at national and international conferences. We hope to be able to train young researchers in the field of music cognition, and work with them closely as they develop their own ideas.

Tell Us a Bit More About Yourself

In order to help us plan, please fill out the following brief survey to tell us a bit about yourself:

Interested RA Survey Link

Once you complete the survey, please email Dr. Shanahan to let him know you are interested in becoming an RA and that you completed the survey.

Ways to Participate

Depending on your interests and research experience, there are a number of ways to participate in our lab. We have listed some options below, but are open to other ways you may want to be involved. You should feel free to write to or meet with Dr. Shanahan to figure out what the right options are for you.

Check out our current projects page for information about specific projects we are running!

1. Attend Lab Meetings

  • Who: Members of our lab (faculty, grad students, and undergrad). We’d love to see you there. Everyone is welcome!
  • What: During lab meetings, we talk about a variety of topics, including ideas for new research, the status of current projects, possible job options, and other career development topics. Sometimes we have presentations from grad students or faculty members, and other times we have conversations about things that are exciting to us.
  • When: We meet every Friday at 4pm.
  • Where: Our lab is in Mershon Auditorium, Room 503, on High Street, right across from Target. Facing the main entrance of the auditorium, there’s a red door with a sign that says “Music Research Laboratories.” Go in, and down the steps you’ll find an elevator. Take it to the fifth floor, and my office is just opposite the elevator.
  • Requirements: None.

2. Run Participants

  • Who: Undergrads who are relatively new to research and interested in learning about how research works. We recommend that RAs run participants for 1-2 years before beginning their own projects.
  • What: You will be involved in actively conducting research! We depend on RAs to run the studies that involve human participants. You spend time talking to the participants in our studies, including explaining the study to them, making sure they consent to participation, and sticking around to see if they have questions during the experiment. This is a good chance to learn about the research process and familiarize yourself with how studies are designed.
  • When: Running participants can be according to your schedule. You’ll also want to attend weekly meetings about your specific project. We’ll let you know when that is.
  • WhereIn our lab at 503 Mershon or at COSI, which is the main science museum in Columbus.
  • Requirements: You will need to complete a few online training sessions before running participants. If you’re interested in running participants at COSI, you will also need to attend an in-person training at COSI.

3. Work on an Existing Project

  • Who: Once you have had some experience running participants, you might be interested in how we come up with research ideas, how we make questionnaires, and how we analyze the data. RAs can work on a number of new projects that we are getting started!
  • What: We have a number of projects running that focus on different things. We do research in music theory, music performance, music education, psychology, language, computer programming, neuroscience, among other things. We want to find the project that is the best fit for you!
  • When: You’ll meet once a week with other project members, which will likely include grad student(s) and a faculty advisor. We’ll let you know when that is, as it depends on the project you want to work on.
  • WhereIn our lab in 503 Mershon.
  • Requirements: You will need to complete a few online training sessions before running participants. If you’re interested in running participants at COSI, you will also need to attend an in-person training at COSI.

4. Design Your Own Study

  • Who: Once you have had a few years of research experience, you might have your own research idea that you want to test. We will set you up with a graduate student or faculty mentor, who can help answer questions and give advice. This option is reserved for people who sign up for an independent study with Dr. Shanahan or are completing an undergraduate thesis.
  • What: You can decide what project you are interested in! You’ll set up an appointment with Dr. Shanahan to discuss your research ideas and figure out how to proceed.
  • When: Up to your schedule!
  • Where: In our lab in 503 Mershon.
  • Requirements: You will need to complete a few online training sessions before running participants. If you’re interested in running participants at COSI, you will also need to attend an in-person training at COSI.