Lab Manual

Marc Joanisse and the Language, Reading, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory

Department of Psychology & Brain and Mind Institute

The University of Western Ontario

Revised June 2022


  1. Introduction
          1.1 About this Lab
          1.2 Core Values
  2. Expectations and Roles
        2.1 Supervisor Role
                  Research Guidance
                  Academic Advising
                  Your advisor as co-author
                  Graduate and Postdoctoral Funding
        2.2 For all lab members 
                   Expectations for working hours and communication
                   Lab Meetings
                   Slack Channels
                   Letters of Reference
        2.3 Postdocs
                   Research and Authorship
                   Planning for the Future
        2.4 PhD Students Roles
                   Individual Meetings
                   Seminar Talks
                   Your Advisory Committee
                   Dissertation Proposal
                   Comprehensive Exams
                   Conference Attendance
                   Other Research
                   Publication of Dissertation
                   Supervision of Undergraduates
                   Leadership Opportunities
                   Planning for the future
         2.5 MSc Students
                  Individual Meetings
                  Initial Project
                  Seminar Talks
                  Conference Attendance
                  Master's Thesis
                  Other Research
                  Publication of Thesis
                  Decisions about Doctoral Work 
         2.6 Honours Students
                  Milestones and Duties
                  Project Selection
                  Annotated Bibliography
                  Practice Talk
         2.7 Research Assistants and Volunteers
  3. Lab and Office Space
         3.1  TA Office
         3.2  Research Space
  4. Lab Meetings
         4.1  Discussion of Current Projects
         4.2  Discussion of Current Literature
         4.3  Professional Development
         4.4  Methods
  5. General Lab Practices
         5.1  Open Science
         5.2  Record Keeping
                  Electronic Records
                  Physical Records  
        5.3  Document Preparation
        5.4  References and Bibliography
        5.5  Statistics
        5.6  Ethics
        5.7  Google Scholar
        5.8  Lab Web Page
        5.9  CV
        5.10  Software and Hardware
        5.11  Participant Recruitment
  6. Conferences
        6.1  Conference Funding
        6.2 Common Conferences 
                 Psychonomic Society
                 Cognitive Science Society
                 Lake Ontario Visionary Establishment (LOVE)
                 Conferences at UWO
  7. Authorship
        7.1   What counts as a contribution?
        7.2  Author Order
  8. On Writing
        8.1 Class assignments and coursework
        8.2 Lab reports
        8.3 Blog Entries
        8.4 Social Media


1. Introduction from Dr. Marc Joanisse

Welcome to the Language, Reading and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Western Ontario!

Western and its affiliate university colleges, Brescia, Huron and King's, are situated on the traditional territories of the Original Peoples of Turtle Island (North America), we pay respect to the land and to the Elders past, present and future.

This document summarizes my expectations for students and trainees, outlines my role as a supervisor, describes our shared research philosophy, and details aspects of how the lab works. It is a combination of a practical guide for lab members, and a treatise on how I'd like our lab to operate. Wherever possible this guide distinguishes between absolute policies, which we should consider inviolable, and our aspirational ideas about how things should be run whenever possible.

The second section is the  most important, because it describes our roles and expectations. We're all here to study how reading and language skills develop and differ among individuals of all ages. In order to achieve this goal, it is important to consider our roles in the lab. Doing so will also help in successfully completing your degree or program, and achieving your own personal academic and professional goals.

As the lab's principal investigator, I endeavour to treat all my students, trainees, and volunteers with respect and courtesy. I value diversity and equity in our lab. If you are aware of or are experiencing harassment of any kind, I urge you to bring this to my attention, your program's Chair, or the Chair of Graduate Studies, or discuss it with the university's Equity Office.

1.1 About this Lab

We are the Language, Reading and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. We study how people learn and understand languages, both first and second.

We are part of the Department of Psychology and the Brain and Mind Institute, both at Western. All lab members, except external collaborators, will be members of the Brain and Mind Institute as well.

Our research is (and should be) oriented toward understanding the basic cognitive mechanisms involved in language acquisition, learning, and reading development. This includes linking it with related areas of study such as learning and memory, with analytic approaches such as computational and statistical models, and with technologies such as neuroimaging and eye-tracking.

1.2 Core Values

These are my core values about mentoring and science. I hope to keep these front and centre and I hope to be a good guide and helpful mentor.

  • We value equity, diversity, and inclusion in the lab and in what we do. Everyone should feel welcome. Everyone should feel comfortable to engage in learning and discovery.
  • We value the opinions and insights of trainees and collaborators.
  • We value your decisions about your career and we value your eventual success in your chosen field, whether it's in academia, the public sector, industry, or elsewhere.
  • We value interesting, creative and informative research.
  • We value careful analysis, thorough and detailed record-keeping and good writing.
  • We value open and reproducible science. We should strive to make our work accessible, clear, and documented.

2. Expectations and Roles

I supervise undergraduate volunteers, research assistants, undergraduate honours thesis projects, master's students, doctoral students and post docs. I also co-supervise many trainees.

My role as supervisor varies according to the specific role of the trainee. Below are some specifics with respect to my role and also the expectations and roles for each category of trainee.

2.1 Supervisor Role

My role is to supervise, guide, and advise. I have my own research interests, but my primary role is to direct a bigger research enterprise, which is our lab. I do generally set the overarching research agenda but strive to create a culture where individual trainees have a say in their own research plans, and everyone's ideas and suggestions are valued. I expect that we are all here to engage in fundamental scientific research and are motivated to discover how the mind and brain create this thing called language.

My supervisory philosophy is that I want to put lab members on the right track to be successful independent scientists, which means balancing my need to monitor their progress against their need to become fully independent leaders as they move along in their programs  This advisory process might look different for different students, and it's essential to know that I will work with you to establish a process that is most effective for your style. But in all cases, it's essential to know that you should come to me as soon as you think you need advising and feedback on your progress. I only rarely chase down lab members for updates; my assumption is you will come to me when you're ready. In the sections below, I outline the general expectations for the frequency of advising and check-ins, to help you get a sense of what is appropriate for you.

Research Guidance

As a supervisor, I will help junior students and undergraduate students come up with relevant questions, and design and implement research projects that answer them. I expect to guide senior students in scientific discovery and professional development. In this role, I will read your work I will edit your documents. I will offer critiques and suggestions and may suggest analyses. My suggestions are intended to be helpful as well as critical and you should consider them, but you are not under the obligation to necessarily implement them. I might challenge your conclusions from time to time, and may disagree with how you interpret your work or design a study. But I can be challenged, argued with, and convinced by evidence that I am wrong (which is not infrequent).

Academic Advising

If you are a graduate student in my lab, I will serve as your academic supervisor and advisor. That means that I will help you decide on course selection, serve as a de facto member of your advisory committee, sign off on official documents, and will work with you to ensure that you are aware of and meet your program requirements. I can also help as a resource when making career decisions. You, for your own part, should not rely solely on me for your academic advising, and should make use of advisory committees and informal feedback from other trusted colleagues. This is essential for understanding how your work if viewed outside the smaller world of our own lab.

I am available for meeting at any time during working hours (generally 9am to 4pm M-F), either on a walk-in basis when I am in the office, or online on Zoom. Generally, if I am in the office I can make myself available for quick walk-in meetings: just knock on my door if you see me. But also, if you're unsure about interrupting me, you can always message me on Slack first. The easiest way to schedule a specific meeting time with me is through my online calendar which you can access at This calendar is open for anyone to book a time with me at their convenience. Please ensure in the note section, you indicate whether the meeting will be in person or over Zoom.

I generally try to respond to emails on the day I receive them, with allowances for evenings, weekends and holidays. Slack messages are usually read and get a reply within an hour, but sometimes longer if I'm otherwise engaged. Reminder messages and emails are always appreciated.

In an emergency, the easiest way to contact me is on Slack.

Your advisor as co-author

I see my own role as a collaborator on any project that you'd like to include me on. With that in mind, I am happy to help at any stage of the writing process, from outlining, (very) rough drafts, finalization and revision post-review. Importantly, I have no expectation that you will only send me polished versions of your writing. I am happy to provide feedback on even the most preliminary draft of your work.

I generally provide feedback using track-changes and comments in Word/Google Docs. As a result, please understand if what I send back is heavily edited and commented. This is not a reflection on your thought process and writing ability and is a typical part of the mentoring you should expect to receive as we work on academic writing. I hope you will think about the feedback I give you and use it to guide your revisions.

Graduate and postdoctoral funding

Although my ability to fund students depends on my own success with external grants, I am committed to funding members of the lab as I am able. Graduate students will likely receive a tuition scholarship as well as a GTA for fall and winter. You may also receive funding in the form of an external ward (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, or OGS). The details of departmental funding can be found on the Psychology department website (which also applies to Neuroscience program students in our lab). My grant-funded support should cover the following:

  • Summer funding for graduate students, as much as possible. However if you are receiving a scholarship (federal, provincial or university), I cannot always give you additional summer support beyond that.
  • At least 1 conference trip per year for graduate students and postdocs, sometimes more. The amount you will be reimbursed and/or can have prepaid should be made clear to you in advance so you know how much these events will cost you.
  • In all cases, you can expect the lab to cover all the costs associated with trainees' research projects (i.e travel for conferences, software). You will not be assigned a project that cannot be funded. Research-related purchases can often be paid directly without needing you to pre-pay them. Please contact me and the lab manager to make arrangements.
  • All the computing and equipment resources necessary for your research. You may not always be able to choose the type of computer system or software that is provided, but I'll work with you to be sure it's adequate to your needs.
  • Costs associated with publication, and dissemination. This includes printing posters. I may have to limit what outlets are possible to publish in due to costs associated with publication. We generally prefer 'green' over 'gold' open-access when there is an option.

2.2 For all Lab Members

Expectations for working hours and communication

Although it will not always be possible to be physically present in the lab on a daily basis, we recognize that being present is a central value of our lab culture.

Normal working hours in our lab are M-F 9am to 4pm, although you may expect some commitments on evenings and weekends depending on the type of research participants you are working with, and teaching schedules. Working from home is always an option on days when you don' t need to be physically present (e.g., for meetings, teaching, data collection). I recognize there are circumstances where it's necessary to work from home and there are other times when working from home is more productive for you. We try to be as accommodating as possible including using technology like teleconferencing.

All lab members will have key card access to the office space and testing areas in the WIRB building. Speak to the lab manager to help you get set up with Denise Soanes.

Lab Meetings

All lab members should attend all lab meeting, and we try to create a schedule that accommodates everyone's availability. However, we can accommodate people who want to attend electronically using Zoom, Meeting OWL, and other technologies. Lab members with co-supervisors might attend less frequently but should discuss that with both their supervisors so it's clear what the expectations are. Lab members may be asked to read an article or to prepare a presentation on their projects on a given date. if you are unable to attend a specific lab meeting, please inform me or the lab manager via Slack directly, or via the channel #lab_meetings. See the section on Lab Meetings for more information.

The best time to communicate with other lab members is during working hours; you can expect that messages and emails sent outside these hours may not receive an immediate reply. Likewise, if you receive a message outside those hours, a reply isn't expected until working hours.

Slack Channels

 All lab members should have a Slack account that is linked to your UWO email (for ease of Zoom meeting security). This will be the primary means of communications. Install Slack on your mobile device, work desktop, and laptop, and make sure to set your time zone correctly and to customize the notification preferences so that you see what you need to see, but are not overwhelmed. If you are having a conversation in a topic channel, just use the "@" feature to get my attention. Make sure you are subscribed to the right channels. If you need to be added to a specific channel, please speak to the lab manager. The LRCN Slack is a free account, so unfortunately some messages will be lost after about six months. If there is something you think you may need from Slack conversations, please save it.

I review the Slack channels each year to remove users who are no longer with the lab. Honours students and RAs will typically be converted to a guest account for one year after they leave the lab and are deactivated two years later. Any trainee who wishes to stay on as a guest for longer is more than welcome, just let me know.

Additionally, the following Slack rooms may be of interest to you (please speak to the lab manager to arrange an invite if you'd like to join):

  • LRCN slack -  this is for lab members. It is used to communicate and ask questions about projects, lab meetings, etc. Lab members can connect here to the lab manager and RAs.
  • Western Brain and Mind slack - this slack is for the Brain and Mind Institute. Everyone in the BMI can join, and this is where you can find most of the administrative and IT staff. This is also where events for the whole of the BMI are organized.
  • WIRB slack - similar to the BMI slack, this is a workroom for everyone working within the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB) where our lab is located. This included the BMI and BrainsCAN, and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. Events for the whole of WIRB are organized in this workroom.
  • BMI-EEG slack - if you are running EEG experiments, you will need access to this workroom, as this is how you will contact the Sleep and EEG coordinator to discuss your study, inform of any technical difficulties with equipment, etc.
  • BMI-fNIRS - similar to the BMI-EEG slack, you will need access to this workroom if you are running fNIRS studies.


All students have their own email addresses provided by the university, but we have two addresses associated with the lab in general:

  • - can be used for participant recruitment and communication for the lab in general (for example, all recruitment emails not related to SONA should be routed through this email)
  • - used for access to the lab Google calendar (was previously used to book rooms and equipment at the BMI but that system has been moved to Please use this calendar to book testing room and equipment, as well as available spaces for meetings and quiet study places. Parking spaces for participants can also be booked here).

The lab manager is in charge of these accounts and can coordinate accessing them.


The lab calendar (lrcn.lab) is run from our Google account, Please ask the lab manager for login information.

Room bookings can be done using the BMI calendar here. You can access rooms and equipment, study spaces and meeting rooms.

Parking spaces for participants are booked on the BMI calendar as well. After booking a parking space, you will need to obtain a parking pass from Denise Soanes at the BMI reception. After you are finished with the parking pass, you will need to return it to her promptly.

Lab meeting are scheduled using Google calendar. Please speak to the lab manager about being added to the lab meeting calendar. This calendar is updated to show if someone is presenting on a given day or if there is a cancellation.

I review the LRCNlab calendar sharing each year to remove users who are no longer with the lab.

Letters of Reference

For all trainees: I will act as a professional/academic reference for you. This could be in the form of letters of reference for employment, for training opportunities, graduate school, grants and awards. If you are seeking a letter of reference, please notify me as soon as possible and as far in advance as possible (several weeks). Please provide me with as much information as you can, including your personal statement, CV and forms. It can also help to provide me a list of things you would like me to mention in the letter. The more information I have, the better letter I can write for you. It's not unusual or rude to send me a reminder as the due date approaches.

Please bear in mind that I may have other letters to write, including those for students outside the lab. As a rule, I will write your letter personally and ensure that it arrives when and where it needs to. I may use the same or similar letter for multiple applications; while I do try to find time to tailor the letter to the position, this is not always possible nor is it always necessary given the intent of reference letters.

2.3 Postdocs

I have very little in the way of explicit expectations for postdocs so far, but this section will be expanded. Currently, many postdocs in the lab are co-supervised with other PIs and so one important part of their responsibility should be to understand and coordinate responsibilities among the two labs. This includes things like which lab meetings to attend, and mentoring duties.

Research and Authorship

I expect postdocs will be lead author on anything they produce in the lab. However, I will enforce a policy where they are expected to continue working on writing up and publishing research results after leaving the lab. If, six months after the end of data collection and leaving our lab, you are unable to continue working on publishing research projects, I or another lab member may step in and complete the write-up process. This might involve including new authors or changing order of authorship to reflect the contribution of people involved in completing the write-up process.

Planning for the future

Given the complexities of the academic job market, we should be discussing your academic future throughout your time as postdoc. Most postdoc positions have a limited time of funding, and I am happy to work with you on job applications, including applications for other postdocs at any time while you're in the lab.

Although it's a good sign that you have secured postdoctoral funding, lease continue to be mindful that not all PhDs end up in tenure track faculty positions, and will end up working in other industries. There are opportunities with hi-tech companies, consulting firms, government groups, and non-faculty university research positions. There are also opportunities in academic institutions that are teaching-focused and have minimal research capacity and expectations. All of these are legitimate ways for you to take advantage of your doctoral training and it's reasonable to expect my help in preparing for any of these jobs.

If you are considering an academic career, your focus needs to be on developing lines of research that you are passionate about, to publish and present in that area, and to attract funding in that area.. f you are considering a career in scientific research outside the academic world, the planning is similar, but you also should be looking at developing transferable skills (Data science skills, programming, analysis, etc.) that you can highlight on your CV.. ou should also look at fellowship programs that offer internship opportunities like the Mitacs program. In either case, talk to other graduate students and postdocs about their experiences. Do not be afraid to ask for help and guidance from me, from your advisory committee, from the grad provost's office (GSPS) and from other organizations.

One thing that I do want to be clear about is that I will be supportive of your decisions.. his is your career.. ou should not feel that your decision to choose a certain career path will run counter to my role as your supervisor.. nd if you feel that I'm not providing the answers or guidance that you seek, we'll look for other solutions.


2.4 Ph.D Student Roles

Individual Meetings

Students should meet with their supervisor individually every 2-4 weeks, possibly more often if we are working toward a deadline. . ese meeting can be 30 minutes to an hour (or more) and we will discuss your projects, program, course work and plans. . etings should be more frequent earlier in the degree as we work through the direction of your training. However, meeting frequency might decrease at the end of the degree, when all data collection and analysis is completed and the student is writing up.

Meetings can take two forms. The first is a regular scheduled meeting time that works for us and protects the time from encroachment by other duties. The second is informal check-ins, scheduled in advance or as the moment arises. I prefer a student-led model where we decide which of these options works best for you. There are no restrictions as to when you can come by and talk if I'm around, but with the understanding that I may not be able to talk immediately and will have to schedule something for later that day, etc.

On those occasion when we can't meet in person, we can arrange for a virtual meeting over Slack or Zoom.

Seminar Talks

It is your responsibility to present your research to your program's weekly seminar meetings. Your talk can be based on research in progress, research complete, or research that you are proposing. Please plan to give a practice talk in a lab meeting prior to presenting your seminar.

Your Advisory Committee

During your first term, you will choose your advisory committee, in consultation with me, your supervisor. In Psychology, the advisory committee consists of the supervisor and at least two other faculty members, and if you're in Psychology, at least one committee member must be a member of the psychology department. Details are found in the CDBS and Neuroscience program webpages, including information about meeting frequency, scheduling and forms to complete following each meeting.

Dissertation Proposal

Students should plan to present a dissertation proposal in their first year, unless their program has different expectations. Some flexibility is generally provided for students who want to present their proposal later, so this is not a hard rule. However, completing the proposal early allows the advisory committee to be well informed and involved in the scope of the project. The broader philosophy is that the proposal is a general plan for dissertation research that can be changed as circumstances dictate, rather than a final check that data already collected and analyzed is sufficient to write up into a dissertation.

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive, qualifying or candidacy exams are generally written in the first or second year of the PhD program. Please be sure you understand your program's requirements. You must pass this exam to continue in the program, and should be taken seriously. Psychology department requirements can be found here. These exams can be a major time-sink and my advice is to be mindful of the time commitment and not allow it to overwhelm your dissertation-based research goals by spending a large portion of the year working exclusively on this milestone.

More information about the neuroscience comprehensive examinations can be found here:

Conference Attendance

I encourage conference attendance for all graduate students. This is is a chance to present your work ot the scientific community and to network with other cognitive scientists. See the section on Conferences for more information. You should try to present your work at least once a year.


The capstone to your graduate degree is the Ph.D. dissertation. This is to be an original research project that should be an experimental and/or computation project that is primarily designed and carried out by you, with input and supervision from me. In our lab, the most common format is a set of three thematically-related experimental papers on some aspect of language acquisition (first or second), learning and/or reading, each of publishable quality, bookended by a shorter introduction and discussion chapter that situates the work within the broader context of the field. The general formatting rules can be found on the UWO Grad website, but also take the time to read fellow students' dissertations to familiarize yourself with expectations about format, content and length.

You should consider pre-registering your dissertation work (see the section on Open Science for more information).

Other Research

Especially at the PhD level, students can and should be involved in non-dissertation research in some form. This includes directing or co-directing an honours thesis student's project, or assisting projects being led by a fellow graduate student or postdoc. You are also encouraged to seek out collaboration with other PIs. The best way to improve on your research ability and skill is to keep doing it. The best way to understand more about the brain and mind is to work on research projects and to think about research projects that test the predominant theories in the field

Publication of Dissertation

You should aim to produce dissertation work that is of publishable quality, and to work on disseminating this work in parallel with, or following receiving your degree. The outlet will depend on the topic and also on the outcome of the experiments. Pre-registration will facilitate the process by having some initial peer review of the project. Studies that do not yield an original or affirmative ("significant") results are sometimes treated as 'failures'; however, there is always value in a study that is well-powered and properly executed. With that in mind, even if it is not possible to publish a study in a peer-reviewed journal, you should aim to disseminate it in a non-refereed open science archive.

I expect PhD students to serve as lead author on anything they produce in the lab, and this should be reflected in the work they put into writing up the results. In some cases, lab members may not be able to continue working on write-up and publication after completing their degree. My policy is, if six months after the end of data collection and completing  your PhD you are unable to continue working on publishing research projects, I or another lab member may step in and complete the write-up process. This might involve including new authors or changing the order of authorship, to reflect the contribution of people involved in completing the write-up process.

Supervision of Undergraduates

PhD students are encouraged to supervise honours students as well as undergraduate RAs. I can provide insight and guidance if needed.

Leadership Opportunities

There are many opportunities to be involved in leadership, such as helping to coordinate the BMI coffee breaks, helping to coordinate the speaker series, conference organization and student groups. Ask your peers, other faculty and myself about these if you are not sure.

Planning for the future

The professional landscape for PhDs in psychology or neuroscience is complex and can be daunting. We should be discussing your plans at our meetings, and you should also be discussing these things with your peer group both within the university and the program, but also with the cohort of other students in other programs.

One thing to consider is that the majority of PhD students (most of your grad school peers here and elsewhere) do not end up in tenure track faculty positions, but rather working in other industries. There are opportunities with hi-tech companies, consulting firms, government groups, and university research. If you are considering an academic career, your focus needs to be on developing a line of research that you are passionate about, to publish and present in that area, to attract funding in that area, and to seek additional training as a Postdoc. If you are considering a career in scientific research outside the academic world, the planning is similar, but you should also be looking at developing transferable skills (data science skills, programming, analysis, etc.) that you can highlight on your CV. You should also look at postdoc fellowships that offer internship opportunities like the Mitacs program. In either case, talk to other graduate students and postdocs about their experiences. Do not be afraid to ask for help and guidance from me, from your advisory committee, from the grad provost's office (SGPS), and from other organizations.

One thing I do want to be clear about its that I will be supportive of your decisions. This is your career. You should not feel that your decision to choose a certain career path will run counter to my role as your supervisor. And if you feel that I'm not providing the answers or guidance that you seek, we'll look for other solutions.

2.5 MSc Student Roles

Master's students are bound by the department's general guidelines. Most students in my lab are enrolled in the Cognitive Developmental and Brain Sciences (CDBS) program and should follow the specific guidelines for the CDBS graduate program. My general expectation for MSc students is that you will be active participants in the lab. That means that you are spending time in the lab, you are attending lab meetings, CDBS area seminars and departmental talks.

Most MSc students are planning to apply to the PhD program and that is my expectation as well. This is not a requirement, though, and acceptance into the PhD program is not guaranteed. There are many good reasons to stay and pursue a PhD and there are also many good reasons not to pursue a PhD. We will discuss these things during the course of your study and there is a section below on making this decision.

Individual Meetings

I should meet with Master's students individually at least monthly, more often early in the degree. These meetings can be 30 minutes to a hour and we will discuss your projects, program, course work and plans. We'll decide on a meeting time that works for us, and we should both protect that time from encroachment by other duties.

Initial Project

In the first year in the lab, you will be assigned an initial project, which we arrive at after some discussions of your interests. This project will be related to one of our primary research themes and we will work together to develop the idea into an empirical research project. Your responsibility is to read and master the relevant background literature, to help design the empirical protocol and apply for or amend ethics protocols (see the section on Ethics), to collect the data and to run the primary analyses. I will assist with any of these projects, as will RAs and senior students.

Seminar Talks

It is your responsibility to present your research (proposed, in progress, and/or completed) at the weekly seminar meetings in your program. Please plan to give a practice talk in a lab meeting prior to presenting your seminar.

Conference Attendance

Conference attendance is encouraged for all graduate students. This is a chance to present your work to the scientific community and to network with other cognitive scientists. See the section on Conferences for more information.

Master's Thesis

The capstone to your master's program is the master's thesis. The master's thesis should be an experimental and/or computational project that is designed by you, with my input. In our lab, the most common format is an experimental paper on some aspect of language acquisition, learning, or reading development. Other topics are possible, but the central work should still be within the range of topics that are being investigated in our lab. An experimental thesis will typically contain a literature review introduction, a full write up of one or two experiments that you designed, conducted and analyzed, and your interpretation of the results. The work you undertake in the Initial Project (described above) may or may not evolve into a Master's Thesis. Though it is not a requirement of the Master's program, you should consider pre-registering your master's thesis with Open Science Framework (see the section on Open Science for more information on OSF).

Other Research

Although it is not a formal requirement of the MSc program, students can and should be involved in other research as well. You can assist in my research by learning to program behavioural studies in PsychoPy, by scheduling research participants, running experiments, conducting basic analyses, etc. You can do the same on projects being led by senior PhD students or projects with honours students. The best way to improve on your research ability and skill is to keep doing it. The best way to understand more about the brain and mind is to work on research projects and to think about research projects that test the predominant theories in our field.

Publication of Thesis

You should publish and/or present your thesis, if possible. I expect you will be the lead author on talks and publications that come about from your Masters work, with myself and other lab members as co-authors if they make an appropriate intellectual contribution to it. The outlet will depend on the topic and also on the outcome of the experiments. Pre-registration will facilitate the process by having some initial peer review of the project. You should discuss this with me as you are designing the study. While not all studies end up being publishable, I expect you to explore other outlet including depositing it in public archives like PsyArXiV so other researchers can benefit from your findings.

On occasion, students may not be available, able or willing to continue working on publishing their Masters thesis work. If, six months after the end of your degree, you are unable to continue working on publishing your thesis, I or another lab member may step in and complete the write-up process. This might involve including new authors or changing the order of authorship, to reflect the contribution of people involved in completing the write-up process. 

Decisions about Doctoral Work

During the summer between your first and second year, we should discuss doctoral work. The PhD program at Western requires a Master's degree and the transition from Master's to PhD is a natural progression. But the PhD is not for everyone. You should be prepared to work on Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience for the next 4-5 years (and well beyond). You should also think about these questions as you contemplate your decision:

  • Do you want to commit the next half of a decade to being in my lab?
  • Do you want to work on the same projects for months or years?
  • Are you passionate about Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience?

You want to be able to answer "Yes" to these questions. If not, you may want to consider stopping with a Master's degree. These are all things we should discuss, and you should know that I do not wish to pressure anyone into a PhD program. I can assist and advise as you make the best decision for yourself. I want to say clearly that if you are considering the option of completing your MSc and not pursuing a PhD, I will be supportive and will help. Please do not feel like you are letting me down or letting the program down.

2.6 Honours Students

My lab usually supervises 1-2 undergraduate honours students each year, sometimes more. As an honours student, you are expected to carry out an original research project that is related to one of the main themes in the lab. Typically, I will have several projects in development that you can work on. Not all of these will involve behavioural data collection. Students who are enrolled in the DCN Psychology module should be aware of the possibility of collecting data from children.

Honours students are often supervised by senior graduate students or postdocs in the lab. I will provide final oversight and subsidize the cost of printing your poster. If you are submitting the resulting research project to a journal for publication, a graduate student an/or I will act as senior (final) author on any journal submission or conference proceedings.

Milestones and Duties

In addition to the general requirements of the honours thesis course, there are several general milestones and duties that I ask honours students to carry out. We will discuss all of these at our initial meetings.

Project Selection

Students should select a specific project in the first two weeks of the term. Most projects will be part of the overall focus of the lab, and may be related to a project that is being conducted by a graduate student. In this case, you will work with the graduate student on the project. 

Annotated bibliography

Early in the thesis year (Sept-Oct) students should complete an annotated bibliography for their project that includes 1-15 papers that make up the core literature on the topic. The format is variable, but it is typically a list of each reference followed by a 1-2 paragraph summary of the research and why it is important to the current study. The purpose of this project is to help you build up some familiarity with the specific area of inquiry and understand what contributions you can make to it, prior to diving into a data collection project. This bibliography can also help you to best understand whether the kind of project you are planning is likely to be of interest to other scientists (and if not, why), and whether it closely duplicates work that has already been done on the topic. In general, a successful annotated bibliography will form the basis of the introduction to your honours thesis. So even though this is not part of your graded thesis course, it is time well spent.

Practice Talk

Toward the end of the second term, students should give a practice version of their thesis talks or poster presentations in one of our lab meetings.


2.7 Research Assistants and Volunteers

Research assistants work in the lab doing primary data collection, scheduling research participants, doing literature searches, scoring questionnaires, and engaging in other similar tasks.

Research volunteers usually work under the supervision of RAs, postdocs and graduate students. Time commitment is typically 5-10 hours per week, and I encourage you to see if you qualify for work study. If you qualify, I will create a position for you and hire you to that position. See Western's Work Study Office for more detail. The RA office is on the fifth floor of WIRB, in room 5168. A key to this office is required, please speak to the lab manager or myself to arrange to have a key made for you.

RAs and volunteers involved in data collection are not typically involved in data analysis, interpretation and write-up. However, if they do play a substantive role in these additional activities, they should be extended authorship of talks and papers resulting from it. This should be discussed with the lead author and PI as we are not always aware of the extent of an individual's contribution.


3. Lab and Office Space

I provide room for all research activities (data collection, analysis, writing, etc.) as well as room for a personal workspace. The lab is located in the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building. Offices are located on the fifth floor. Graduate students have a cubicle in the open office area, postdocs will have a semi-enclosed, shared office and there is temporary space for undergraduate students and volunteers on the fifth floor as well. The fifth floor also houses several meetings areas and collaborative spaces. I expect grad students and postdocs to use this space daily for research work, writing, data analysis, etc. We hold lab meetings in one of the large meeting rooms in WIRB and you can book smaller collaborative rooms for working together on the projects (use the appropriate calendar booking system). As of 2019, any of the unassigned PI offices can be booked for small meetings and/or quiet space. The best way to get the most out of this research space is to be here doing research work and interacting with other trainees from the other labs on the same floor.

The RA office is on the fifth floor of WIRB, in room 5168. . key to this office is required, please speak to the lab manager or myself to arrange to have a key made for you.

3.1 TA Office

The 5th floor open office in WIRB should not be used to hold TA office hours because it is an open office. Graduate students who are working as TAs may wish to reserve one of the small rooms on the 4th or 5th floor for this purpose. You may be able to access space in the Social Science Centre to hold office hours. You may also wish to arrange to hold office hours in a set location at Weldon Library. You can book small study rooms for this.

3.2 Research Space

Our research testing areas are located on the second and third floors. Room 2138 is the EEG Prep Room, with rooms 2139 and 2146 being the EEG testing rooms. The fNIRS equipment can be found in room 2180 on the second floor, with supplies being in the EEG Prep Room. The EEG Prep Room is also where clean-up for both EEG and fNIRS studies will take place. If there are any supplies running low in the EEG Prep Room, please notify the Sleep and EEG Coordinator before they are gone, so that they have time to order more. Training for both of these systems is required prior to participants being run. Speak with the Sleep and EEG Coordinator to arrange training times for you and all lab members involved in your study.

We also use the general testing rooms on the second and third floors for behavioural testing. These are rooms 2106, 2107, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2115, 2116, 2119, 3106, 3108, 3110, 3114, 3158, and 3160. These can be booked on the BMI calendar.

The other rooms in the BMI, such as those housing EEG/ERP equipment, psychophysics equipment, eye-tracking, and TMS machines can be used for our research, though in those cases, contact the lead researcher who runs that lab, or ask the BMI equipment manager, Derek Quinlan, on the third floor.

The MRI scanning facility (UWO's Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping) is located on the first floor of the Robarts Research Institute building on campus. Access to the building is by sign-in at the second floor desk, or using your UWO key card if you have approved access (speak to the CFMM staff about getting card access). MRI booking is done through the CFMM staff, using their online calendar. Information on the system is available here. Prior to booking scan time, you will need to provide some paperwork including your ethics approval and filling out a form that allows us to obtain reduced scanning rates. Please talk to me about completing the paperwork as you plan your study.

If there is a piece of equipment that you require for your study, or for use at your desk, there is a lab equipment sign-out sheet on the LRCN lab Google Docs page. You can check to see if we already have it, or if not, we can see about ordering it. Then you sign out a piece of equipment (e.g., testing books), please make sure to include the date it was signed out and where it can be found while you have it, in case other people need it in the meantime.

Please do not take equipment home without clearing it with me first.

4. Lab Meetings

Note: Meetings for 2020-2021 will be online and on Zoom because of COVID-19. As health restriction ease, and according to our own personal safety tolerances, we will resume in-person meetings in a mixed format that will accommodate on-campus and teleconference attendees.

We hold a 60-90 minute lab meeting about every week. The weekly meeting consists of core lab members (myself, postdocs, PhD students, MSc students, honours students and RAs when possible). Occasionally, other members will be invited to attend as well. The purpose of these meeting is to discuss current projects, to engage in debate or discussion about topics in the literature, and to plan future studies. Mostly, the purpose of the lab meeting is to solve problems. We meet in room WIRB 5107. I usually schedule lab meetings at a time that is convenient for the maximum number of people. This varies by term, and it may vary even by month. We don't usually meet as often in the summer.

Each term, we'll discuss times for potential lab meetings to ensure that as many lab members as possible are able to attend. Please keep an eye out for the Doodle poll asking your availability and enter your responses as soon as possible so that a time can be booked. Desirable slots tend to be snatched up fast.

Below, I outline different lab meeting topics. It's essential that lab members propose topics for lab meetings (including things like professional development opportunities) so that the agenda reflects what you want to get out of your time in the lab. 

Lab meeting announcements, agendas, and planning will always be in the #lab_meetings channel in Slack.

Attendance is not optional. If you are unable to attend a specific lab meeting, it should be due to ill health or travel. Please inform me or the lab manager via Slack directly, or via the channel #lab_meetings, well in advance.

If you are unable to physically attend a lab meeting, there is always the option to attend via Zoom/Meeting OWL. Please inform the lab manager or my self via Slack so that we can have everything set up in this circumstance.

4.1 Discussion of Current Projects

One major purpose of lab meetings is to discuss ongoing projects by team members. This can be anything related to the research program, such as a practice talk for a conference, ongoing data collection, or a proposal for a new study. I expect that the students leading the discussion will prepare an informal presentation of slides, handouts or notes. This helps the rest of the group to follow and will also be an opportunity for you to practice with presenting your work. There is also no such thing as too much practice.

4.2 Discussion of Current Literature

It's also important to stay current with literature. Some of our lab meetings will be set aside for Journal Club, or for the presentation of interesting and relevant literature. If it is your week to present a paper, we can discuss your choice ahead of time, or I can suggest a paper for you. You can choose from papers related to language acquisition, learning or reading development. There are always good suggestions in the #readthis channel on slack. Everyone is encouraged to post papers to #readthis.

4.3 Professional Development

From time-to-time, we will hold workshops on professional development. . can work on your CVs, discuss conferences, job opportunities, etc. We should aim to do these on a yearly basis, perhaps in a 'retreat' format where we set aside a full day to meet exclusively for this purpose.

Every few years, we hold a retreat in collaboration with other labs to go over current research and methods. These are usually one day retreats, with guest speakers.

4.4 Methods

We will also occasionally use our lab meeting time to run tutorials on statistics software, methodology, programming, writing, how to use OSF, and other related topics. I will usually schedule and run these, but also welcome suggestions from everyone if you are particularly skilled in a technique or software, I may ask you to run a tutorial as well.


5. General Lab Practices

In this section, I provide an overview of some of the practical aspects of being a student or volunteer in my lab. This is a long list of general topics.

The overarching scientific vision is this: good science requires robust datasets. We should aim to first maximize the use of data that already exists, both from our existing studies and using public datasets, and second to identify gaps in the literature that we can genuinely fill by acquiring new datasets in a way that is robust, reproducible and shareable with other scientists.

Data collection should be done in a way that leverages online tools as much as possible, even when in-person work is possible. For example, using online surveys on Qualtrics to screen potential participants represents an environmentally friendly to collect demographic information.

5.1 Open Science

An important aspect of conducting scientific research is the practice of Open Science. This term might been different things in different labs, but in my lab there are several best practices that I would like all lab members to follow:

  • Our lab participates in the Open Science Framework (OSF) and strive to make our work open and accessible to the public. All papers will eventually be available as preprints to ensure public access and will be hosted on PsyArXiv, a preprint server hosted by OSF. Public access to our work is not only an example of good scientific practice, it is also required by many funding agencies (caveat: some of our older papers are hosted in public folders on a server).
  • Graduate students should create an OSF profile so that I can link to it for projects and profiles. OSF is where we host preprints, reprints, datasets and analysis code. Maintain a public profile accordingly, funders, other scientists, possible employers and postdoc supervisors will see it.
  • Data will be available in a public archive along with the corresponding analysis scripts.
  • We will strive to meet a minimum of 50% of publications in open access journals or journals with an open access policy.
  • Open science represents a significant challenge for neuroimaging because so much of our analyses are exploratory. We need to be cognizant of this in the way we analyze our data: using pre-registered methods when possible, and noting their exploratory nature when that is not possible.
  • Data sharing after the fact requires obtaining permission from participants ahead of time. Ethics applications should, in all cases, include allowances for publicly sharing de-identified data including neuroimaging datasets.

5.2 Record Keeping

Good record-keeping is one of the most important things in science. Although there are a variety of ways to take notes and keep records, it is important to have a centralized and accessible record-keeping system for current projects.

Electronic Records

Every ongoing research project will have an associated OneDrive folder within a shared library for the lab. Please speak to me or the lab manager to be given access to the OneDrive shared library.

Within this folder are subfolders for each aspect of the study from ethics to recruitment. If there are multiple studies attached to one ethics, there will be subfolders within the project folder indicating the project's title and the researchers name.If changes have been made to the study, these folders will need to be updated so that we have the most up-to-date information on how the study was conducted. This is to ensure that our studies are reproducible to the maximum extent we can manage.

For studies conducted online, ensure data is copied to an offline server, then all data is deleted from the online server. Any LOI's, questionnaires that have been completed on an online server such as Qualtrics, should have a blank copy saved onto the Onedrive as well. 

How much detail is required in this record? There is a document within the "Projects" folder of the shared library that details the folder organization for a given project. Examples are also included.

Each project should have a protocol with it. A template for either HSREB or NMREB protocols can be found in the "Projects" folder. At this time, all HSREB projects require a separate written research protocols that needs to be updated with each amendment, and included when adding new personnel. NMREB protocols are not required but are still good to maintain as they may be required in the future.

Please do not store data on the shared library. Datasets tend to be large and could take our allotted memory. All identifiable data (e.g. consent forms) must remain in locked storage at the WIRB, per Ethics protocols. These do not get added to the shared library, as we would no longer be in compliance.

Physical Records

Each project has its own physical binder containing all the physical records, as well as a digitized version of the physical records, for that study. There should be copies of the following in this binder:

  • the Letter of Information/Consent form (including Assent forms if applicable)
  • a copy of each recruitment option used
  • copies of each questionnaire used
  • a copy of the debriefing form (if used. Oral debriefing is permitted though this needs to be stated in the Ethics protocol/application)

Digital data, such as EEG, fNIRS or reaction time data will be saved onto discs, USB sticks or external hard-drives and stored in these binders as well. It is important to keep a copy of both the raw and analyzed data, and properly label them. All data should be deidentified and anonymized. The data should then be kept seperate from any identifying information, and you should only analyze the coded data.  

The lab manager can help with digitizing physical copies of completed questionnaires.

Consent forms are kept separately, as mentioned above (ours are kept in a locked filing cabinet in the file storage room on the 5th floor. This room is accessed by keypad code, speak to Denise Soanes in reception if you need to have one created).

Our data retention policy is that physical records of anonymized data are kept indefinitely. While we may dispose of identifiable information (consent forms and and records linking the anonymized data to subject IDs) after seven years, there are few good reasons to dispose of old data that could eventually need to be accessed for many good reasons (new studies, quality assurance, exploratory analyses, etc.).

5.3 Document Preparation

We don't currently have a lab standard for document preparation software or templates. This is might be something to explore in the future. However, there is a general APA format that you should follow. A handy guide can be found on the Owl Purdue website. 

Thesis templates can also be found on the UWO grad website.

5.4 References and Bibliography

Students currently use whatever bibliography system they find easiest or most appropriate. This could be supported more centrally if there was a desire to do so (e.g., a central Mendeley or Zotero database).

5.5 Statistics

Install the newest versions of R and R Studio and be familiar with how to run and document basic analyses. In particular, learn to use the markdown services (like R Notebooks) to document your code and explain your analyses. JASP/JAMOVI is worth considering as well.

Neurooimaging analyses are done in a variety of packages, but we should aim to use scripting languages whenever possible, and make them publicly available, in order to make these more reproducible.

5.6 Ethics

All of our research involving human participants needs to be approved by the Western Research Ethics Board. We annually review all of our open protocols to ensure compliance.

Please include the lab manager on all Ethics applications with all permissions so that they have access to the protocol. Protocol templates can be found in the OneDrive shared library "Projects" folder.

The UWO Ethics website has many different templates that are suggested for use for various research documents (e.g., recruitment for SONA).

For studies involving data collection from children, Human Resources has suggested that researchers provide a Vulnerable Sectors Records Check. This is also sometimes a requirement from school boards for individuals acquiring or handling data from children recruited from schools. This form is not submitted to Ethics but is kept in personnel files in the lab managers office. The Vulnerable Sectors Records Check can be obtained from the police station at 601 Dundas Street, London, Ontario.

5.7 Google Scholar

Once you have something indexed or published, create and maintain a Google Scholar page. You can link to your co-authors accounts and follow other accounts.

5.8 Lab Web Page

The lab website is run on Cascade through Western's website. Once you have joined the lab, please send a picture and a short paragraph about yourself and your interests to the lab manager so that they can add you to the "People" page on the website. If you have a personal professional website, you can also include that link in your paragraph.

A personal webpage is important because if a prospective postdoc supervisor or prospective employer searched your name, you want that page to come up near the top. It should be clean, professional and informative.

Don't bother with Research Gate or They are not open and accessible. In my view, nothing is to be gained by subscribing to their business models.

5.9 CV

Maintain an up-to-date CV on your primary, personal machine.

5.10 Software and Hardware

We use many different software packages. Below is an incomplete list of important software that full time lab members should have installed or have online access to:

  • MS Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)(UWO employees and students have a license for Office 365 through the University, using your UWO email)
  • Google Docs (do not include any identifying information in these documents as Google Docs are not secure. This goes for the Calendar as well).
  • Slack (desktop app and mobile)
  • R, RStudio, Jamovi, JASP
  • SPSS (MyVLab)
  • PsychoPy
  • Qualtrics (you will need to set up an account with Heather Stevens at the Social Sciences Technical Services office)

NOTE: As a general rule, identifying information should not be included on ANY cloud platform unless we are completely sure it is secure and have Ethics approval for such storage.

In addition to these above, there are site licenses for Matlab, and some shared resources for E-Prime. On occasion, we also use Presentation, please let me know if you need a license for that. The BMI/Western may also have licenses to different programs, please check with Haitao Yang on the third floor if you need a specific program outside of what's listed above.

The lab maintains several computer servers for high performance computing needs. Please talk to me if you need access.

BMI/BrainsCAN also maintain a large computer server that can be accessed for jobs needing large amounts of disk space and CPU/GPU resources. Instructions for accessing the system are available here.

For even larger computing jobs, Western is also a member of Compute Canada which maintains high performance computing systems including Sharcnet. Please speak to me to arrange access.

5.11 Participant Recruitment

Our current participant recruitment systems consist of:

  • SONA, organized by Daniella Chirilla
    • For researchers, there are two forms that need to be filled out:
      • Research account sign up (filled out once)
      • Application form to use the SONA system submitted for each study (submitted to Daniella Chirilla
    • OurBrainsCAN
      • Laura Gonzalez-Lara is the contact for this. Speak to her about a training session for using the OurBrainsCAN database.
      • Make sure to check the website prior to submitting an Ethics application as the wording for the OurBrainsCAN database may have changed.
    • MTURK/Prolific
  • Facebook
    • The lab has a Facebook webapge where we advertise various studies to the community
    • In order to use Facebook advertising, make sure to include this in your Ethics application. Also specify that you may use paid targeted advertising. Speak to the lab manager about wording.
  • Developmental Participation Pool - through Bea Goffin
  • The Psychology department Summer Participant Pool - organized by Dr. Stephen Lupker
    • Each year, Dr. Lupker organizes the Summer Participant Pool for the psychology department. This usually involves and RA first going to the organizational meeting and being assigned a class from which to collect contact information from students who wish to be contacted for studies during the summer.
  • In-house participant contact list
    • In the past, we have maintained a list of participants who have previously participated in our studies who have also given consent to be contacted in the future. This list is maintained by the lab manager.
  • WRLD website
      • The Western Reading and Language Development Project (WRLD) is a website we have set up for the purpose of collecting contact information for people who would like to participate in our studies. This list is maintained by the lab manager. 

Make sure to include in-house participant lists (both previous studies and WRLD) in Ethics applications as sources of participant information. Ask the lab manager for wording for this section of Ethics applications.


6. Conferences

One of the best ways to present your current research, to find out about other cutting-edge research, and to meet other scientists is at scientific conferences and conventions. There are a number of conferences that the lab is involved with, though we may not all attend every conference. I typically attend 1-2 a year, and I encourage students and trainees to be present at conferences.

6.1 Conference Funding

Under no circumstances are students ever expected to self-fund travel to a conference where they are presenting their work. However, please check with me prior to submitting your work to a conference to be certain I can fund your attendance. A local conference might cost several hundred dollars to attend and a national or international conference might cost over one thousand dollars. I can subsidize at least one conference per year, and your home department will generally also offer $250 per student per year (for students in psychology, find more information here). There are also travel scholarships available for many of the conferences. Information about these scholarships is usually available from conference websites.

To maximize the experience and minimize expense, I may ask you to room share with other graduate students. This can create problems that I am unaware of due to issues that include specific privacy needs or concerns of harassment. If some room-sharing arrangements are not possible for you, please discuss it with me privately so that I can accommodate you.

Please save every receipt: hotel, taxi, flight, and each meal, etc. These are needed to complete a travel reimbursement. There are sometimes maximum reimbursable amounts for different categories so you may not always get back all your expense, but we will always reimburse you the maximum allowable. Be it your responsibility to complete the online reimbursement form; please do so within two weeks of travel. I'll be notified when your form is complete and I can approve it.

Reimbursement is completed via the UWO finances portal. Receipts and printed forms are then to be given to Denise Soanes.

6.2 Common Conferences

This is a list of conferences that we have attended with some regularity.

Psychonomic Society

The Psychonomic Society conference is held in November and the abstracts are due in June. As a trainee, you can present a poster and author a talk, but you cannot actually give the talk unless you are a full member of the society (I am). Membership in the Psychonomic Society is usually restricted to researchers and faculty. We can author a submission and sponsor a submission, which means that as a lab, we are typically limited to 2 submissions. I attend the Psychonomics conference almost every year, and it is the one conference that we often try to do as a lab.

Cognitive Science Society

This conference is usually in July and the submissions are due in February. Cognitive Science is great for interdisciplinary science and also publishes proceedings for each conference. Trainees are eligible to present papers (spoken presentations) or present posters. I attend every few years.


The Canadian Society for Behaviour, Brain and Cognitive Science is a great, Canadian-focused conference that is held annually at a university in the summer. There are opportunities for trainees to give talks and posters, and there is usually an enjoyable hospitality event. 

Lake Ontario Visionary Establishment (LOVE)

This is a regional conference held every year in Niagara Falls that is affiliated with the APA. There are opportunities for trainees to give talks and posters, and there is usually an enjoyable hospitality event. 

Conferences at UWO

There are a number of conferences hosted by various organizations at UWO. These are usually one day conferences and give you the chance to meet peers within and outside your department. The Western Research Forum is multi-disciplinary and open to all departments. WISSLR (Western Interdisciplinary Student Symposium on Language Research) is hosted by the linguistics department, and the Neuroscience Research Day is hosted by the neuroscience department. The Developmental Disabilities Division hosts a one-day Dr. Benjamin Goldberg Developmental Disabilities Research Day conference on campus each May/June. Western also has a 3-minute thesis (3MT) competition, where graduate students have 3 minutes to present their research and its impact to judges and peers.


7. Authorship

We are working together to carry out scientific investigations. Part of this process is writing up the work for publication and depending on your role, you may be added as an author on the paper. This is more common for graduate students, but authorship is possible for undergraduate honours students as well.

7.1 What counts a a contribution?

Authors on journal articles and chapters are expected to have made a concrete contribution to the project, and/or paper. For example, the following are all justification for inclusion as an author:

  • You designed one or more experiments in the paper.
  • You wrote the initial draft of a major section.
  • You wrote the entire paper.
  • You designed and carried out the analyses.

In many cases, you might help with a project, but the contribution is not quite enough to warrant inclusion as an author. The follow are several examples:

  • You helped to carry out data collection.
  • You created the reference section, table or figure.
  • You scored a test or created a dataset.
  • You helped to proofread or edit.

In these cases, you will be acknowledged by name in the paper.

7.2 Author Order

The order of authorship matters, but there is no consistent agreement in Psychology as to how authors should be ordered. In the Cognitive Sciences, the convention is that the first and last positions have special meaning, with the last author usually being the PI or senior investigator on a multi-author paper, and the first author often being the trainee (PhD or Postdoc) who wrote much of the paper. Regardless of position, there is also the corresponding author, which has traditionally been the person who is ultimately responsible for the contents. Although that has traditionally been the PI's role, more recently PhD students have served as corresponding author on their own work and this seems reasonable assuming they intend to remain active in academia and we can reasonably expect them to be available for future correspondence about the manuscript.

Under no circumstances are trainees expected to cover publication costs out of pocket. We will pay any fees related to disseminating research including open access fees. This may mean we need to choose not to publish to certain outlets and to self-archive preprints of our papers (Green Open Access) rather than pay for open access fees (Gold Open Access).

Below are some guidelines I use:

  • If I designed the experiment and wrote much of the paper, I will serve as first author.
  • If a trainee carried out some or all of the research under my supervision, but I designed the study and/or wrote most of the paper, I will serve as first author with the trainee(s) listed as junior author(s).
  • If a trainee carried out the research under my supervision, and helped to design the study (or designed it entirely) and/or wrote much of the paper, the trainee will serve as first author and I will serve as final author. Note: this is the most common format in my lab.
  • For PhD students, if you are publishing your dissertation research and planning to pursue a scientific career, you should act as first author and I would still appear as final author.
  • For PhD students, if you are not interest or able to publish your dissertation research, we can discuss how to proceed. The option is that you will be included as first author, and I will act as final and corresponding author. Another option is that another student may work on the paper, and would take the first author position. This would only happen if you gave your approval and agreed that you were not interested in writing up the work for publication.


8. On Writing

Writing is one of the most important parts of being a successful scientist and academic. All the well-designed experiments, rigorous analysis and technical achievements will not be worth very much if you cannot write about them. Writing is not easy. Writing takes practice. There are several ways to get this practice.

8.1 Class Assignments and Coursework

One of the fundamental ways to learn to be a good writer is to engage in written coursework, such as thought papers, research proposals, and research papers. Not all courses have a significant writing component, but many do. . also occasionally offer a course on "Scientific Writing." Check the Writing Centre for more information about writing courses, as well as the UWO Library website for workshops relating to your studies.

8.2 Lab Reports

I encourage you to write up short reports of each study that you run. This is important for several reasons. First, it provides a record of every study we run, regardless of whether we eventually publish it or not. This allows us to track the number of participants we ran, specific protocol we ran, and preliminary analyses. Second, a short write-up can be used to drop into a manuscript and expand into a full method section. Finally, it's just good practice for the process of scientific writing.

8.3 Blog Entries

You should consider contributing to a blog/website. Having a professional web presence is important for many reasons, but one benefit to authoring blog entries is you gain practice and feedback on describing research for an audience outside the field and outside our department.

You might consider setting up your own website using Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace or similar to host your CV and publicize your published writing and blog entries. It's vitally important to cultivate a thoughtful and engaged presence.

Some suggested outlets include:

8.4 Social Media

Lab members generally have their own social media accounts that they will use for personal and work purposes. I can use the lab social media feeds (on Twitter and Facebook) to help disseminate these knowledge translation activities. These are maintained by the lab manager. Lab members are encouraged to post links to their own feeds and we will use the lab accounts to help widen the reach. You can also use Slack to alert people to these, again to help get the word out.