Undergraduates as Researchers – the Impact of Active Participation in Research and Conference Presentation on Psychology Undergraduate Identity and Career Aspirations


  • Janis McIntyre Davidson University of Glasgow
  • Minna Lyons University of Liverpool




Research-led teaching, staff-student research collaboration, conference presentation, qualitative interviews


Although research-led teaching has been identified as an important part of psychology curricula in the United Kingdom, less is known about the impact of undergraduate research collaborations with academics, culminating in a conference presentation. The present study was a qualitative investigation into the experience of student-staff collaboration from a student perspective. We conducted semi-structured interviews with five psychology students who worked together with staff conducting research during their undergraduate degrees, disseminating the findings at an academic conference. The interviews were analysed using a thematic approach. We identified three themes, which were around the relationship with their tutor, career aspirations, and identity as a researcher/psychologist. Overall, the interviews indicated that undertaking research and attending academic conferences has a positive impact on future career aspirations, and helps students to feel that they are part of an academic community. Academic staff teaching in research-led psychology programmes should consider giving students opportunities to immerse themselves fully in the research process, ideally leading to a conference presentation for academic audiences.

Author Biographies

Janis McIntyre Davidson, University of Glasgow

Janis McIntyre Davidson is a Senior Academic and Digital Development Adviser at the University of Glasgow. Her teaching and research interests focus on learning and teaching in Higher Education and professional development for academic staff.

Minna Lyons, University of Liverpool

Minna Lyons is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool. She is an evolutionary behavioural scientist, who also has pedagogical interests in student engagement and flipped classroom teaching.


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