Thursday, August 09, 2007

“Studies” Are Fun.

And let me tell you that I am not referring to the mundane, monotonous chores of mugging up lessons and puking them on the exam sheets, whether or not you can make heads and tails out of them. I am referring to the various studies that go on in the different research labs on campus that recruit student subjects.

So what’s the deal?

As an international student, I am not allowed to work for more than 20 hours a week to earn my stipend. However, summer is the only time that the rules go lax. For not only am I allowed to work for double that time and earn whatever extra money I can (provided I can find other part-time jobs on campus), I am also allowed to participate in as many studies as I can. But of course all this has to happen within the campus.

So how to go about searching for studies to participate in?

Look for flyers wherever you can. You will find them in elevators, in departmental bulletin boards, in restrooms, in corridors, in offices, and in other unexpected places. If the departmental bulletin boards do not suffice, go to the other departments and visit their bulletin boards. You will find flyers with detailed information. At the fag end of the paper, there would be the contact telephone numbers and/or the contact email ids printed multiple times and cut into thin strips. You can conveniently tear out a strip like you tear those coupons, and you are set !!!!

So what studies am I talking about?

You wouldn’t believe the number of studies one could participate in. Of course the list is not exhaustive, but here is a little description about the various studies I have come across and participated/tried to participate in-

Computer keyboard study- in a nutshell, this was an ergonomics study where they were interested to see what design of keyboards make people type faster. I am not allowed to give out the details, but let it suffice to say that first I was given the normal keyboard and asked to type for certain lengths of time while electric pulses monitored the movement of my wrist. Then I was asked to type in a totally different (and cool) looking keyboard and was asked to type using that. My words per minute, frequency of spelling typos, and other hand movements were monitored. What else, I was given a check at the end of the study.

Garlic study- they try to see the usage of garlic in the cure for cancer. Of course you do not have to be a cancer patient to participate in this. For multiple sessions, you eat the food they give you, and then they do the blood draws and ask you to fill up a questionnaire. It lasts for about 8-10 weeks and you get monetary compensation depending on how far you have gone with them to complete the study. So it is not just the money, the food is free too !!!

Beverage study- similar to the garlic study, they would give you food, and then certain beverages, and monitor your rate of hunger.

Dental Study- they test you for sensitive teeth. Let us skip the procedure, but let it suffice to say that they paid me some $150.00 for a non-invasive (no scissors, scalpels, cuts, and stitches), 2 hour study.

Hearing study- what is the range of lowest frequency of sounds babies can hear? How different is it from the range in which adults can hear? They take you to a sound-proof recording room and you raise your hand when you hear a certain beat. The beat gets softer with time. What more, you get a check at the end of it.

Mental study- ever suffered a mental trauma? Ever been abused by someone close and elderly, and still feel traumatized? How do your sleep patterns change when you think of it? Does your heart beat faster? Is there more adrenaline flowing when you think of it? You get the drift, right?

And then, there are others, like the diabetes study, the arthritis study, the baby study, the elderly study, the vision study, the smell recognition study, and so on, and so forth.

The incentives?

Most studies pay a handsome amount for your time. And then you get the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped further the research interests of the university. Your feedback is valuable in helping companies design better products. These companies could be software companies, drug manufacturing companies, or any other company selling anything from electrical equipments to teeth braces. Lastly, you get to know interesting information about yourself, like how well you can identify soft sounds (compared to the others), how fast or slow you type on a new keyboard, how sensitive your teeth are to certain substances and certain temperatures, is there fluid accumulation in your ears, etc.

So what do we do?

I and G vigilantly remain on the lookout for such information. And when we bump into something that looks interesting, we call each other excitedly.

“Hey did you see the study they are doing on people who feel suicidal?”

“Err…. But I do not feel suicidal”…

“Well…. Then go for this hunger study. Am sure you will be a perfect fit”.

“Great. Give me the phone number. And by the way, they are recruiting human subjects for a heart rate monitoring study in the physiology department”….

And this way, we glean and exchange information, call up the recruiters, participate in these studies, and make good pocket money. I tell you, the ways of this country will never cease to amaze me. For now you know, even studies are fun !!!!!!!



creepa said...

Firstttt :p

A verry happy belated birthday first of all..the previous post was like..ive no words :)

And I wish there were studies like these here as well :P...

Himank Sharma said...

He he... thats kool.. I wish it ws done in our college... We sometimes do this type of work in our collg like getting our palms photographed or speaking into a system.. but Money. Naah...

Btw HappY Belated B'day :)

Adarsh said...

one very important question. Are you allowed to work if you are on a fellowship???

sunshine said...

creepa- :) fir se? Thank you. Thankyou.

himank- hehe, thanks.

adarsh- I wouldn't really know.... seriously. Mine is not a fellowship though.

Adarsh said...

ohkkk.... I got my answer... coz if you were on a fellowship AND allowed to work then I would have to plan a rebellion in my univ :P
BTW... happy bahut zada belated waala Birthday !!! :)

chatduke said...



mintykulkarni said...

Belated Happy Birthday!
Seems you enjoy many ways to make money :)