There is a lot of great Cognitive Science related research ongoing around McGill and the Cognitive Science degree allows you to get involved. Primarily, this is done by participating in research courses for course credit (COGS 401 or COGS 444). These classes involve finding a primary investigator to supervise a research project that you will do in their lab, over the course of 1 or 2 semesters. More information can be found at the McGill Cognitive Science program page and in the course calendar.
COGS 401 is available for any Cognitive Science students to take. COGS 444 is required for any students in the Honours profile.
Cognitive Science students can find a research supervisor from within the 5 primary streams, or someone doing related research in other departments around McGill. Students have been involved in very diverse research projects, including investigations into music cognition, delusions, working memory, brain imaging, philosophy of math, language learning and acquisition, cell cultures and genetic studies, second language acquisition and so on.
Hello! We hope you are enjoying your time at McGill. We wrote this guide in hopes to (1) ease the introduction to research (2) provide fundamentals to finding the right research field (3) act as a lighthouse that guides students through the adventure of finding research!
SACS executives have compiled a list of lessons we learned while looking for research opportunities and while participating in research projects.
This guide is not a formal guide on how to find research, nor on how to do research. But it is a collection of student experiences which we hope will serve students well.
So... what is research?
Whether you are looking to go to med school, grad school, or straight to the workforce, we need research. Research is usually defined as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”. Here, we will use the unorthodox definition of research: the act of inquiring knowledge from unknown disciplines, the yearning to learn beyond the classroom, and the act of discovering one’s passion.
Partaking in the ‘research’ of professors or performing your own research is possible. It is not just a one-time deal; it is a life-long learning process.
How can I get involved?
Well, there are many ways. You can volunteer in a lab, take research courses, or simply join a research group.
Many students usually start off as volunteers in a lab to gain a sense of what research can be. It will depend on the lab environment, the professor, and the motivation of the student. The first research experience is usually the most difficult to obtain. But once you do, the subsequent research finding can be more efficient.
Words of Wisdom
- Try to avoid contacting professors during the month of November. That’s when professors are super sensitive and super busy with writing grant proposals. They may not have the energy left to reply back.
- Do contact them after November.
- Although this may not be true for all professors, many professors are more willing to accept students once they find out about their grant proposals during the month of March. More grants, happier the professor, more likely you’ll get accepted!
- Ask politely and show interest.
- Professors can easily know when students are not truly interested in their research topics.
- Be passionate about the work that you put into the research.
- Lack of motivation can be detrimental to your experience.
- Although this is not true for all professors, some professors will ask you to send your transcript. Some professors will criticize you for some grades: “Why did you get an A- here? Why did you take these courses? What did you learn from it? How has this course contributed to your academic career?”
- These comments might make you feel intimidated, but the profs mean well and want to know more about you. But not always…
- Don’t send generic emails to 50 professors.
- Don’t just show up to their offices. It might not work since most professors are teaching or working in the lab.
- Read about the professors before contacting them.