COGS 402

For the most part, yes. It is difficult to find a supervisor and scope out a project in the first week of term. The research collaboration agreement form must be signed by the student and the supervisor and submitted by the end of the week in which the first presentations are given. It is strongly recommended to look for a supervisor and to scope a COGS 402 project well in advance (a term or two before you plan to do your COGS 402 project).

It is never too early to start planning for your COGS 402 project.

For example, if you plan to do your COGS 402 at term 2 of your 4th year at UBC:

  • In your 1st/2nd years, start paying attention to the research topics that excite you. What area would you like to contribute to?
  • In your 3rd year, start looking into which labs or research groups you might want to join, and who you might wish to have as your supervisor. Keep paying attention to your own research interests too, in case they change (you may get inspired to do something at a recent guest lecture for instance). It is not too early to start reaching out to places you're interested in and start volunteering at a lab or other research environment. Attend "Gearing Up for 402" hosted by the Cognitive Systems Society (CSS) to hear from students who have completed their COGS 402 projects.
  • When you reach 4th year, start generating research question candidates for your COGS 402 project. If you take COGS 401 in term 1, you may find additional inspiration there.

  1. Start with introspection. What areas of research interest you? Do you have someone in mind who you'd love to work with?
  2. To find inspiration, see what Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy and Psychology are up to. Note that your COGS 402 does not necessarily need to be in the field of your specialization. For example, a student in Computational Intelligence and Design could do a COGS 402 project at a Psychology lab. A student in Language could do a COGS 402 project under a supervisor in Philosophy. There may also be labs or other research environments in Applied Science, Music, Visual Arts, Public Health, Medicine, Kinesiology, etc. that you could do a COGS-related 402 project in.
  3. Reach out! Send an email (remember to do some research beforehand - what project(s) would you be interested in working on and why?) and/or say hello in person (most professors hold office hours). In case the lab or supervisor is not familiar with what a COGS 402 is, have the information handy (it can be found here).
  • For some labs, there may be an "onboarding period" (a time period when you get trained up on how to run studies) before you become eligible to do a COGS 402 project. This onboarding period varies across labs (some labs may have no onboarding period), but it could take 1 full term. This is one of the reasons why students are encouraged to start looking for a project supervisor well in advance.
  • Depending on how many research assistants, volunteers and directed studies students a lab already has, a lab can be at capacity and cannot take on additional students. It may be advantageous to pursue multiple threads.
  • Not sure if a project is suitable for COGS 402? Please contact your COGS 402 instructor.
  • Interested in doing a COGS 402 project with labs outside of UBC or with industry? It is possible, but it can be trickier to arrange. If your supervisor is supervising a COGS 402 project for the first time, it is recommended to connect them with your COGS 402 instructor to go over expectations.
  • Things to consider when scoping a COGS 402 project:
    • Is the project feasible in 3 months?
    • Are there any potential roadblocks that can completely stop your project? How can you minimize that risk?
    • The final deliverable is a write-up. Think of what your final deliverable will look like. If you have no idea what that would look like, you might suffer at the end of the term.
    • You need to be the one who comes up with a research question, think of ways to answer that question, and to try it out. In other words, you need to be a cognitive agent throughout the project.
  • For more information on how to prepare for your COGS 402 project, it is recommended to attend "Gearing Up for 402" hosted by the Cognitive Systems Society (CSS). Students who have completed their 402 projects will be there to offer insight.

  • Email etiquette: If you are reaching out by email, ensure that your email is well-crafted. Some email etiquette resources include Inbox (1): How to email your profs effectively and Email Etiquette (Chapman Commons).
    • Make the subject line clear. What are you requesting?
    • Instead of opening with "I hope you remember me," state where you met the person upfront, e.g. "We met at [event]" or "I took your [course] [when]."
    • Read this twice: conciseness is a virtue. There is no need to overshare.
  • Résumé: Some labs or other research environments may request résumés. The Centre for Student Involvement & Careers has tips on résumé crafting (and cover letters).
  • Timing: If your prospective supervisor is a professor, emailing in December asking for COGS 402 supervision in January-April will likely yield no results. They would be marking final exams (or papers) and entering final grades leading up to the end-of-year holiday season. Once the holidays are over, it's the start of term.
  • Networking: In addition to attending the "Gearing Up for 402" info sessions, it is worth attending "Meet the Profs" to meet professors in COGS/COGS-adjacent areas and/or attending COGS-relevant talks (and talking to the speaker after the event). Think of the guest speakers you've met in COGS 401 (and professors from other courses as well).

No. Past COGS 402 projects are not posted. Primary reasons for this:

  • It could be misleading: just because a lab/individual could supervise a COGS 402 project in the past, does not mean they will be available to supervise again in the future.
  • Providing a list of past projects may result in some degree of mimicry or repetition; the COGS Program prefers to encourage creative exploration (more challenging as that may be). Students are encouraged to come up with novel project ideas: this could mean approaching potential supervisors in unexpected fields, who have never heard of COGS 402 before.

No. Finding your own supervisor is significant to the COGS 402 learning experience. If you are extending beyond your comfort zone to communicate with potential supervisors, you are growing.

In the past, COGS alums/labs/research groups have reached out to the Program Coordinator and Chair with potential COGS 402 opportunities. In the event an opportunity is communicated, it will be posted on the Cognitive Systems Society (CSS)'s Discord server. Please refrain from asking the Program Coordinator or Chair whether there will be postings in the future.

Multiple students can work under the same supervisor, but their COGS 402 projects cannot be the same. If you have doubts as to whether your COGS 402 project is too similar to another student's, please contact the COGS 402 instructor.

Your supervisor can send the evaluation form to the COGS 402 instructor directly.