DLSU prides itself on being a research-centered university. In sustaining this character, various programs and centers that put research at the core are offered by different departments, colleges, and offices in the University. In alignment with the expressed identity, the University Student Government (USG) has recently actuated the Research Assistance Program (RAP) to act in part with the school’s commitment to foster competent and active researchers.
RAP and its nature
The RAP is a recruitment initiative of the USG which enlists interested undergraduates for student research assistant (RA) openings through a centralized portal. It is grounded on the purpose of being a platform which helps students gain access to environments that practice authentic research. Likewise, it offers professors or researchers recruiting for assistants the opportunity to interact with and acquire insights from student RAs.
The Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVPIA) oversees the administration of the RAP. OVPIA coordinates with the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (VCRI) in managing the process that researchers or professors and students will have to undergo in this program. They are also accountable for regulating the effectiveness of RAP through feedback, which will be sent to the VCRI. The Vice President for Internal Affairs (VPIA) heads the entire program. One of the VPIA’s prime responsibilities is to directly coordinate with the VCRI regarding matters of the practice.
Incumbent VPIA Brian Chen acknowledges that the concept of RAP came into fruition the previous academic year, during the service of then-VPIA Karl Ong. He relays, “[There] were numerous students approaching the USG for part-time jobs or internship opportunities in general, and some of these people jumped into asking more specifically about the academic side of opportunities, such as research assistantship.” The implementation of RAP aims to satisfy the requests of the students for true research opportunities which may also be avenues to further develop their research skills and expand work possibilities.
OVPIA sets policies with the intention of ensuring a sound and effective implementation of RAP. Certain requirements, passed with the discretion of directors of the research centers in the University and the VCRI, are required from both the professors or researchers and students to secure a spot in the list of RAs.
Looking into the process of the RAP
The RAP involves the concerted efforts of professors in need of assistance and students who are looking forward to a different opportunity and experience. This partnership is intervened by the OVCRI, being the liaison of the two parties.
The first phase begins with the USG’s coordination with the OVCRI, and subsequently, the latter disseminates information about the initiative to professors. Any interested professor can avail of this service by filling up an online request form via Google Forms. The request form specifies the position, research topic, qualifications, contact details, and the deadline set by the professor. Once completed, request forms will be compiled by student representatives and distributed online by the USG for a wider reach.
Following this, any student who desires to apply as an RA has to simply accomplish the required Research Assistant Application (RAA) Form, and submit other documents to the USG. A pre-screening will be managed by the USG and the OVCRI then once passed, the RAA form will be submitted to the requesting party who will be the determining body to either accept the application or not.
Requirements and other guidelines
To guarantee quality research and commitment, certain objective requirements set by the OVPIA and the OVCRI are as follows:
Responsibilities and schedules are dependent on the agreement between the faculty and the RA. Compensation is not mandatory, and is also upon the sole discretion of the requesting party. To ensure professionalism and good conduct, a monthly evaluation will be administered to the participating professors and students for the monitoring of the program’s effectiveness.
As of writing, Chen says that the form is still being finalized, but already contains questions on the following: From the professor’s perspective, it asks how much the student was able to help out in the duration of his/her research assistantship; rom the students’ perspective, it inquires on matters such as how the workload was, was the pay commensurate to his/her effort throughout the assistantship, did the professor somehow mentor him to do as expected, among others.
Words from an RA
Being an RA may be demanding of a student’s schedule and effort, but the experiences that may flourish is something that could not be a product of regret. In an online interview with The LaSallian, two RAs were able to share their experiences and expound on the nature of the program.
Zam Doctolero (III, BS-MS CHE) says that he wanted to become an RA because “it is a unique opportunity where I can gain new knowledge outside my usual academic schedule.” He also adds that the distinction between the research topics and his course can mount valuable skills, even beneficial in preparation for his thesis. Doctolero shares that a big challenge he faces is time management, especially with extra-curricular activities and maintaining a desired academic standing. He points out that “though it may seem difficult, I know I can handle it as I see challenges as a way to develop myself and inspire others to overcome their challenges as well.”
Maria Cristine Tan (IV, BS-CIV TRE) also shares the same difficulties as Doctolero, with juggling her academics and work as an RA. She emphasizes that being involved in this program is a commitment, so one should be able to manage their time properly. Tan says that she applied to be an RA because “De La Salle University, as we all know, is one of the leading universities in the field of research and I am hoping to gain tips from professors since I am currently doing my thesis.” She adds that, “research can be another opportunity to be explored, especially in my course, and maybe, I can be enlightened into also pursuing this field in the future.”