Essay 4: Research

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APPIC Psychology Internship Essay 4

Essay 4: Please describe your research experience and interests.

While the majority of internship programs do not focus on research, you do not want to minimize the importance of essay 4. Intern applicants have expressed how surprised they are about how often their internship interviews asked about their research and spent considerable discussion time on it. Therefore, you should organize and discuss your research experience in a thoughtful way, which will then help you talk about how research is integrated into your work as a psychologist-in-training.

Tip #1: Provide a summary of the theme of your research interests in the first paragraph. Sometimes there is one overarching theme, sometimes there are 2 or 3 threads (may or may not be related) throughout your research. When there’s more than 1 theme, it may be helpful to indicate the threads explicitly in a list: “My interests are best categorized as a) research topic, b) other research topic, and c) another research topic.”

Tip #2: Consider writing about your dissertation first (after your intro paragraph) instead of writing about your research experience chronologically. Your dissertation is your major work, so you should highlight it in this essay. Provide enough detail about what your study involves, but try not to get bogged down in statistical details or theoretical concepts. DO remember to include the implications of your research – i.e., what do you hope to accomplish with conducting your research? For example, contributing to the research literature (knowledge base), understanding the application of an intervention to a specific population, or advancing a theoretical model.

Tip #3: Group your research experiences together by theme/topic, not necessarily by chronological order. If your research experience (undergrad, master’s, employment) before your doctoral program is significant to your professional development, feel free to include this! Highlight any publications or professional presentations that have resulted from your research activity. Consider naming the research mentors who have influenced your research.

Tip #4: Comment on what role research will play in your professional activities in the future – be honest! (However, I recommend not saying, “I don’t really like research.” Focus on what you do value about it.) Internship programs understand that the level of research involvement (and interest) will vary across individuals. However, the baseline expectation is that having a doctorate-level education in psychology reflects some kind of value and/or understanding about the relationship between research and clinical work, so you should address how you plan on using research in your professional life. For example, you may want to continue conducting research to contribute to the field of knowledge or you may prefer to be a good consumer of research and focus more on how to apply current research thoughtfully to your clinical work.