Join the Team  

Research Team Goals & Activities

My research is generally focused on prevention and intervention of interpersonal violence. As a research team, we will be keeping abreast of the latest research on sexual assault and intimate partner violence. We will also be conducting our own research in this field. Depending on the semester, this research may involve designing a study, collecting data, analyzing data, disseminating results through both conferences and publications, or a combination of the above activities. The ultimate goal of these activities is to make professional contributions to the field. Working at a professional level requires a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and a commitment to excellence. As a member of the research team, I expect you to prioritize your work on the team and put your best foot forward at all times.

Research Team Structure

The research team is organized into three tiers that students may progress through over time: 1) journal club; 2) trainee; 3) research assistant. Only those students who have progressed to the research assistant stage may call themselves research assistants.

 Journal Club. When students first join the research team, they will be placed in the Journal Club. The Journal Club meets every Friday at 9:30am and consists of all members of the research team. Each week, a different student will lead a discussion about a journal article of their choosing. A schedule of presentations will be disseminated at the beginning of each semester so that students are aware of their presentation date in advance. As a presenter, each student is expected to conduct a PsychInfo search to locate an article related to the current research project and to disseminate this article to the entire research team during the previous Friday meeting so that everyone has time to read the article in advance. The presenter is then expected to put together a 10 minute Power Point summary of the key points of the article (research question, participants, measures, key findings) and to facilitate a discussion with the rest of the team about the article. Discussion questions should be open-ended and can include strengths of the article, critiques of the article, aspects of the article we can incorporate into our own project, implications of the article for research or practice, and other insights or innovative ideas that were sparked by the article. To prepare for the discussion, each research team member is expected to have read the article in advance and come to the journal club prepared to discuss the article.

In addition to discussing articles, journal club participants will also participate in professional development activities every Friday from 10-10:30am. Professional development includes activities to enhance students’ soft skills, professional skills, career planning, and self-care. Occasional take-home assignments may be required. Journal club members should expect to devote 3 hours to these meetings and activities each week.

Research Trainee. Students who have met the criteria for advancement (see below) and want to receive training to become a research assistant will be invited to become a trainee. Trainees will attend the journal club (from 9:30-10am), the professional development sessions (from 10-10:30am), and the regular research group meetings from 10:30-11:30am on Fridays. During these meetings, they will work alongside independent research assistants. As a trainee, students will complete the same assignments as independent research assistants, but their assignments will not be used as part of the official research project. Rather, this is an opportunity for students to learn from their mistakes and refine their skills without any negative repercussions for the research project. Throughout the training period, trainee assignments will be compared to assignments completed by the independent research assistants and feedback will be provided by the independent research assistants, team leaders, and Dr. Ahrens. Trainees should expect to devote 6 hours to these meetings and activities each week.

Research Assistant. Students who have met the criteria for advancement (see below) and want to become a research assistant will be invited to become an independent research assistant. Research assistants will attend the journal club (9:30-10am), the professional development session (10-10:30am), and the regular research group meetings from 10:30-11:30am every Friday. As an independent research assistant, students will be given weekly assignments related to the current research project. Completed assignments must be of the highest quality as the research that is produced will be the basis of professional conferences and publications. Research assistants will also be expected to review the work of trainees and to provide feedback to trainees on a weekly basis. Depending on the stage of the research project, assignments may involve locating or creating measures, recruiting participants, collecting data, analyzing data, or preparing results for professional conferences or publications. Research assistants should expect to devote 10 hours to these meetings and activities each week.

Advancement Criteria  

To advance through the research team tiers, students must meet the criteria listed below. Evaluation of each student’s progress will be made at the end of each semester and formative feedback will be provided at that time. Students who wish to receive more ongoing feedback are invited to attend research team office hours on Wednesdays (exact time TBA each semester) or to schedule individual meetings with Dr. Ahrens.

Advancement to Trainee:

    • Consistent attendance at all journal club meetings for a minimum of 1 semester

    • Appropriate article selection (i.e., methodologically strong article related to current research project)

    • Accurate and clear summary of selected journal article

    • PowerPoint presentation is clear, concise, and well-formatted

    • Active participation in all journal club discussions

    • Demonstrated understanding of weekly articles during journal club discussions

    • Insightful contributions to journal club discussions  

Advancement to Research Assistant:

    • Continue to attend journal club and meet journal club performance criteria

    • Consistent attendance at all research group meetings

    • Research assignments completed on time

    • Research assignments completed accurately and with a high degree of detail

    • Familiarity with and accurate use of research protocols to guide activities

    • Asks for guidance when needed

    • Accepts constructive criticism and incorporates feedback appropriately

    • Prioritizes research group activities and does not complete assignments at the last minute

    • Demonstrates an ability to work independently

    • Demonstrates an ability to work well with other members of the team  

Application Instructions  

If you are interested in joining the Journal Club and possibly advancing through the steps to become a research assistant, you may download an application here.  Please also download the mentor-mentee compact and sign it after reading it all the way through.  When complete, both the application and the mentor-mentee compact can be emailed to  Dr. Ahrens will then review your application and get back to you within 1-3 business days.  If she believes you are a good fit for the team, she will then schedule an interview to discuss current projecs further.  New applications are accepted at any time, but new Journal Club members typically do not begin until the beginning of the Fall, Spring, or Summer semester.