Research Assistant Policy

Course Description: SOCI 493, Research Assistant (1-4 units) 

Open only to advanced students. Gives students experience in assisting faculty with data collection, library research, and/or data analysis linked to sociological research and writing. Grade only. May be repeated for credit, but only 4 units total of SOCI 490, 493, and 495 may be used toward the major. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. 


Grade only. The final course grade will be based on meeting attendance and participation (required), as well as on prompt and satisfactory completion of assigned tasks. 

Course Workload 

Research assistantships will vary in the amount and type of work required, which is decided in consultation with the faculty advisor. For each SOCI 493 unit, students must complete 45 hours of work.

  • 1 unit = 3 hours per week, 45 hours total 
  • 2 units = 6 hours per week, 90 hours total
  • 3 units = 9 hours per week, 135 hours total
  • 4 units = 12 hours per week, 180 hours total

Requirements of Students 

The student and professor will meet at the beginning of the semester to discuss and sign a formal agreement about which tasks the student will undertake, how many they will complete, and what performance standards will be used. Possible tasks might include: 

  • Retrieving and organizing articles available electronically 
  • Assembling lists of references on specified topics
  • Summarizing literature on specified topics
  • Completing relevant readings necessary to do the work 
  • Assisting with crafting of interview guides and/or survey questionnaires
  • Conducting observations, interviews, or content analyses under close guidance of instructor 
  • Distributing and collecting surveys
  • Managing data
  • Other research tasks 

Students will be expected to:

  • Keep a log of hours worked and tasks done (bring copy to meetings with instructor)
  • Participate in any training sessions that the instructor offers, relevant library workshops, and similar activities suggested by the instructor
  • Attend all meetings set by the instructor, with the number and frequency of meetings to be determined
  • Check their SSU email regularly and respond to instructor messages promptly
  • Complete assigned tasks thoroughly and by assigned due dates 
  • Requirements of Faculty Instructor
  • Structure the semester’s tasks
  • Organize the tasks to fit the unit hours
  • Provide advanced research training to complete the tasks
  • Meet regularly as needed and as agreed upon with student or students
  • Seek IRB coverage to allow research assistants for any assistantship that directly involves human subjects
  • Write formal evaluation of student’s performance
  • Verify appropriateness of student’s skills for assigned tasks 
  • Discuss possible plans for future involvement with student
  • File agreement in department office 

Signed Agreement Form Must Include

  • Number of units/hours to be completed
  • Anticipated number and length of student-mentor meetings 
  • Tentative schedule of meeting dates and times
  • Description of student duties
  • Plan for student to increase skills
  • Basis of evaluation 

Additional Notes

In addition to receiving units, students may be paid using private or grant funds. 

Sociology Department
Sonoma State University
Approved 05/06/10