It’s 2am on a Thursday night. It feels shockingly close and amazingly far from the beginning of this semester. The reality of summer has (officially) escaped your soul, replaced with the magical allure and promise of all things pumpkin spice. It’s possible that right now the reality of deadlines, exams, and the fact that being up at 2am is no longer a good idea (we’re looking at you, 8am classes) is weighing on your mind like the combined weight of your textbooks. So, needless to say, you’re busy. Tired. Stressed.
But I hope you’re also optimistic. Excited. Energized.
Each semester offers as much opportunity as it does stress. If you are reading this, you are probably someone who likes opportunity. And that’s great because in this post, I want to invite you to a new opportunity. I want you to write the next CSHB blog article. I feel so strongly about that, I want to give you five reasons why I think you should. Let’s get going.
Reason #1: You have questions, you want answers. One thing that I love about teaching psychology is that is relevant. To everything. Who sits in a class about people and says, “yeah, this just doesn’t matter to me.” Really. Who does that? Instead, I usually have students who ask really great, creative questions that are deeply relevant to their own lives. Class may not always be well suited to dive into these questions and—frankly—professors might not have all the answers (#professorconfessions). But there is another solution: you find the answer yourself. This is what got me interested in psychology. I had too many questions for my professors to answer, so I decided to spend my life studying to answer them better. But it’s not just about me answering them; it’s also about sharing my answers to try to improve others’ lives.
So, how can you share answers to your questions to improve others’ lives? Forgive me for my bold claim here, but I think the CSHB blog is one such way. Let’s say you want to know how to have relationships that are more meaningful. Find a few research articles, read them, and summarize them in a blog for your peers. The process of finding, reading, and summarizing the articles will enhance your own understanding of how to have better relationships, and it also affords the readers of the blog a chance to learn from your own learning. How cool is that?
Reason #2: You want to develop your CV. A curriculum vita (CV) is an academic resume and, chances are, if you are planning to apply to graduate school or are in graduate school, you will need one. There is no one “right” way to create a CV, but one thing you will want to be sure to do is to fully and accurately document all of your academic activities. If you publish a blog for the CSHB it can be added to your CV as a peer-reviewed, non-academic publication or as service to the profession. Especially for those of you pre-career, even the little things matter.
Reason #3: You are looking to get involved. Related to #2, publishing in the CSHB blog is not just about adding lines to your CV because it represents something more than just lines on a document. It also represents your investment in your program and discipline. Not all students take the time to do work in their discipline outside of the requirements of the class. Those who do tend to be different kinds of students. More involved. More invested. More connected. If you are interested in the behavioral sciences because you desire to be a part of a community of behavioral scientists, this is a great first step. (Also, given that your submission will be reviewed, you can ask your favorite professor to pre-review your submission and provide feedback as another way to start to create relationships outside of the classroom.)
Reason #4: You have ideas worth sharing. Did you know that some of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the history of science have come from young scholars? Including graduate and undergraduate students? People just like you?
An interesting thing happens in all professions: you come into the profession knowing nothing (or very little), but over time you acclimate (or, get socialized) to “the way things are done.” Over time, we learn how to do things just like the most respected member of the profession. In science, this means that we learn a specific way of thinking about problems and we apply a standard method of inquiry to try to solve the problem. Cognitive psychologists call this a “mental set”, or a way of thinking about problems. The benefits of a mental set is that they increase your efficiency; you don’t need to think about the how, you just apply the methods you always have before. The drawbacks of mental sets is that it is really hard to think outside that framework. And some of the most intractable problems in science are intractable because we don’t have a good framework for thinking about them currently. To solve these problems, should we do more of the same, or be willing to challenge our current conventions and mental sets to make space for new ideas? I would suggest that you might have some of these new ideas partly because you are still developing the mental set of your discipline. Perhaps the blog won’t be where you publish your groundbreaking thesis for employee engagement, the best treatment for depression, or the construction of memory. But it might just be the place where you develop enough confidence in the worthiness of your ideas that you allow yourself to think big. Science isn’t just for the names you read in your textbooks….it’s for you.
Reason #5: You like a good challenge. If the introduction of this blog post was correct, it’s now about 2:15am on that fateful Thursday, sometime in the middle of the semester. You’re wondering if there is enough coffee at Wanda’s to get you through to the weekend. You’re also wondering where you would find enough time to write a blog post. I mean, don’t you have enough on your plate?
Yes, you do have enough. But I also know that if you’ve made it this far in the blog post, your interest is piqued. So, I invite you into this challenge. Think of a topic. (If you are worried about time, maybe you can write on the research of time management!) Peruse the criteria for submission. Submit a blog post to be considered for publication by the CSHB. I dare you.
Are you thinking about submitting a blog post? Have an idea that you’d like someone else to write about? Looking for a collaborator? Leave your comments below.
Dr. Erin Smith is the Director of Research at CBU’s Center for the Study of Human Behavior and an Associate Professor of Psychology.