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Why Join in on Research

09 May 2014

Undergraduate speech-language pathology and audiology students are constantly trying to find ways to craft the perfect resume and sprinkle in a variety of extracurriculars to show that they are a multifaceted and culturally-sensitive person who can do well in every program. One way in which a handful of students are sticking out from the rest is through writing a thesis or assisting in research. Even if the thought of research puts you off when you initially hear it, there are quite a few benefits that you can gain from doing research (besides putting it on your resume!)

The first pro that comes to mind is that you can learn more about a topic that interests you. Do you  enjoy working with children that have Autism, have an interest in dizziness and how that relates to the auditory system, or find dysphagia interesting? If you have any interest at all see if there is a professor in your school conducting research. You don't have to go head-in and do a project or thesis, you can begin with attending lab meetings or writing a paper based on research you find to learn more about these areas.

Once you've gotten your foot in the door and decided you want to learn more about the research process and your desired topic, then you can really see what goes on behind the scenes. You'll get to see how the entire research process unravels from the conception of an idea to gathering data and interpreting it to writing the paper (and possibly sending proposals for publication). It's invaluable experience.

If your school has poster sessions (or you managed to get it accepted into a convention's poster session) you'll learn even more. It'll give you more strength in speaking and writing skills, as well as critical thinking as some attendees may ask questions about your work that you haven't considered.

Even if you don't conduct research but just assist in a lab or write a paper on the subject, there are still ways that you can benefit. One thing that ASHA and the profession keep encouraging is evidence based practice. This means that you do therapy that is backed by research that shows it will provide positive results. Helping in a research lab or conducting research will help you learn how to decipher bad research from good research and good research from great research.  Being able to do so will not only help you in your clinical practice, but ultimately aid your patients by giving them therapy that is proven to work.

These are just some of the benefits that I have found from assisting in a lab and writing my own thesis. As you can see, it's more than a resume booster!

Related post on  why I think there is a shortage of academia and research SLPs.