Here’s why you should take part in a research study

Gabriela Mata

“Have you been feeling depressed?”

“Do you want to quit smoking?” 

“Diagnosed with anxiety or trauma disorder?”

Questions such as these come directly from research studies currently being conducted on UT’s campus. They also emphasize how paramount these issues must be for UT students and members of the Austin community if such studies take place. As such, taking part in research studies, either as active participants or as research assistants, is something everyone needs to consider.

According to UT’s Department of Psychology, there are currently 20 open studies, all conducted by its staff, seeking active participants and/or research assistants. Every study indicates the times they are available, including when the study will be over, where they are located and whether or not compensation is provided. 

New studies are always opening, providing students and the Austin community with opportunities to take part in them. The main problem arises when individuals do not do so. Lack of compensation, transportation, proficiency in English or anxiety to attend are valid justifications for not taking part in studies. However, unwillingness to take action should not be one of the reasons an individual doesn’t participate.

Dr. Christopher Beevers, faculty member at the UT Mood Disorders Lab, currently focuses his efforts on studies which analyze the treatment of depression. These studies highlight just how important it is for volunteers to give their time to further research.

According to their website, the Mood Disorder Lab’s main goal is to understand depression so more effective treatments can be developed and “this critical goal cannot be reached without help from many people.” The lab site highlights the fact participants and colleagues who contribute their time are significant players in furthering their studies.

Since depression is both pervasive and often misunderstood, student participation is needed for this study to have informative results. 

“I think it’s important for students to participate,” said Jocelyn Labrada, Project Coordinator of the UT Mood Disorders Labs. “Part of doing research is to see how it will help them in the long run, especially since they can contribute to the results.”

Students eligible to participate in the mood and brain study get paid $50 for each appointment. Other studies promote different types of compensation besides money, such as YMCA memberships or free treatment. In this way, students benefit from contributing their time while also helping researchers in the long run.

Research studies hold the key to self and community improvement. These studies remain important as they are the essence infusing society with advancement and change. On the 40 Acres, development of new and important information from research should empower students, faculty and the community to aid these studies in any way they can.

“It is kind of satisfying to know that you contributed to a research study because there are probably some students and people in the community that really need the information from this resource,” said Elisabeth Homeyer, international relations and global studies sophomore. “I’m glad I took it seriously and it’s reassuring to know that I helped in some way, even if just for a little bit.”

Don’t shy away from these resources because you are unwilling or unmotivated. Research studies provide invaluable information to researchers that can help students and the local community. Take part in a study at UT to see what you can do to be a part of these efforts.

Mata is a psychology sophomore from Houston.