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					                    Research Assistant Guidelines – Faculty of Education

1. Within the working relationship between faculty members and research assistants there is
great potential for mutually beneficial outcomes. These “best case” scenarios can perhaps serve
as models for both faculty and students as they negotiate the relationship. Some high points of
these working relationships can include:

For students, the opportunity for apprenticeship, including learning how to conduct research,
write papers, present at conferences, and get published. Some professors provide additional
benefits to support their students’ own professional and academic development. Specific
examples include:
 providing partial or total funding to attend conferences or workshops
 providing a budget (e.g. $500) for the RA to spend on professional development, such as
    books, software workshops, and conferences
 paid time for the RA to work on his or her own research if allowable per regulations
    governing the grant

For professors, benefits include: opportunities for critical feedback, collaboration, research
support, new research initiatives, and a fresh perspective on one’s work.

2. For faculty and research assistants, ongoing communication is vital to a positive working
relationship. Promoting effective communication can benefit both faculty members and research
assistants. The following are a set of issues that should be addressed to support mutually
beneficial relationships. It is recommended that these issues should be stated clearly in writing
and provided to both parties prior to the signing of a contract.
 length of contract including the start date and completion date
 nature of the contract (project based versus hour based)
 type of work to be completed by RA
 location of work and transportation issues(e.g. reimbursement for travel expenses)
 immediate supervisor (may not be the faculty member who signs the contact)
 rate of pay (RAs are not covered by a collective agreement. The suggested pay scale is
    $23.30 per hour for Masters students, and $28.54 per hour for doctoral students including
    benefits; however, wages may vary depending on the nature of the job, the experience of the
    student, and the funding available to the faculty member.)
 basic and extended medical benefits may be available for RAs provided that the grant allows
    for such benefits and the grant holder is willing to pay 50% of the monthly premium. If the
    supervisor is not willing to do so, the RA cannot opt to pay 100% of the premiums.
 dental benefits may be available for RAs after one year of continuous employment
    provided that the grant allows for such benefits and the grant holder is willing to pay the 50%
    of the monthly premium. See http://www.sfu.ca/policies/research/r50-02.htm for more
    information.
Issues that may be helpful to discuss before work begins include,
 uses of office space, computers, and other equipment
 location where confidential data will be stored (paper and electronic)
 regulations of the Employment Standards Act of BC (In accordance with this act, a copy of
    the act must be provided at all places of employment. See
    <http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/E/96113_01.htm> for more information.)
 authorship on papers written jointly by students and faculty (In accordance with the
    guidelines of the American Psychological Association authorship should be discussed prior
    to the writing of a paper and renegotiated if necessary. The university guidelines on
    plagiarism <http://www2.sfu.ca/policies/teaching/t10-02.htm> may also be a useful resource
    for negotiating authorship.)
 project deadlines, as well as the research assistant’s availability and schedule
 reporting: intervals, forms, expenses, and the like

(The “time use guidelines” used by teaching assistants, which provide an outline of the hours
available in a contract and how they will be spent, might be helpful in ensuring that projects are
completed. Scheduling a “check in” meeting every few weeks in which progress is monitored
and the guidelines are readjusted as needed might also be helpful. )

3. Awareness of the perspective of the other is invariably helpful in negotiating successful
relationships.
 Students should be mindful that professors often appreciate research assistants who show
    initiative and do not require reminding or constant supervision.
 Faculty members need to be mindful that research assistants are often juggling
    responsibilities with other employers and professors, as well as to students and family
    members.
 It is also important that faculty members are cognizant of how their multiple relationships
    with students might impact their working relationship. For example, it might be difficult for a
    research assistant to disagree with her/his employer if that person also had substantial
    control over the student’s dissertation

4. If disagreements cannot be resolved between research assistants and faculty members, which
is always the first route to take, third parties might be helpful in reaching a resolution including:
 The Research Coordinator – Dr. Phil Winne (604 291-4858; winne@sfu.ca)
 The Director of Graduate Programs - Dr. Tom O’Shea (604-291-3984; tom_oshea@sfu.ca)
 The Dean of Education - Dr. Paul Shaker (604-291-3148: pshaker@sfu.ca)
 The Simon Fraser University Ombudsperson – Laurine Harrison (604 291-4563
     laurine@sfu.ca)

Depending on the nature of the dispute, it may be appropriate to present conflicts that remain
unresolved at the faculty level to the Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Jonathan Driver or the Office
of the Vice President, Research. A graduate student representative is available to provide
support and advocacy for students in resolving these situations. Please contact the Education
Graduate Students Association (EGSA) for more information.