Is it possible for me, an undergraduate, to conduct a study involving MRI scans on infants?

Hello! I'm currently a freshman studying BA in Psychology. We were assigned to propose a research study this Wednesday. I decided on an interesting but difficult study. I'm optimistic about it, but honestly, I'm not confident that I can pull it off due to its high technicality. 

I'm still in the process of writing my proposal when I realized that my professor might reject this with regard to its feasibility. I've done 3 research studies in the past, as requirements during high school, and only 1 was done with external help (a teacher/statistician). 

My question is, can I still conduct this study if I seek professional helps, e.g., analysts, MRI technicians, etc.? 

PS. I'm not asking my professor about this because... hehe I'm intimated by her? I'm scared. 

8 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    There would be two huge obstacles for you. Assuming you're in the US - one obstacle is funding - how would you pay for this?  Two is permission - It is very difficult to get studies with human subjects approved by university research councils. It's doubtful they would approve such a study. Doing it on infants would only add to the complication because they can't legally consent, so you'd have to get the parent's permission. 

  • MS
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    I have a PhD in psychology and work at a major state university.  I don't have access to the necessary technology to do such a study, so I find it very unlikely that you would be able to get such access as an undergraduate.  Perhaps if you get involved in the research of a faculty member who is already doing such research and has protocols already established, but definitely not on your own. 

    Do you actually have to do this study?  Or is it just a proposal?  I often have my students develop proposals as a means of developing literature review and methodology skills, but I don't necessarily expect them to carry out the studies.  

    Keep in mind that research must go through the IRB, you would need to involve other professionals and sites to make this work, and you would need consent of the families of the infants.  It's not as simple as getting an MRI tech to help you scan some babies.  Also, most babies need to be sedated for an MRI, so you'd have to involve medical professionals for that and it definitely increases the risks of the study.  This would be an exceptionally expensive study to conduct, even if you did get all of the necessary approval and assistance. 

  • Lili
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    If you are not willing to discuss this with your professor, you will NEVER get the chance to be involved in any study in any way.

    No one who's actually conducted real research studies should be intimidated, though I doubt seriously that what you did in high school comes remotely close to anything conducted by serious, professional researchers.

    However, the sort of study you describe could not be conducted by a mere undergraduate, certainly not a freshman, though there are studies a senior working on an honors thesis project might be able to carry out. The best you could do is observe someone else's work, and it would likely be difficult to obtain permission to do even that.

    And babies?  No way.

    I don't think that you have any real grasp of medical research. That's why you need to sit back and learn from -- and talk to -- your professors, for a few YEARS before you attempt any research on your own, and even THEN you'll need close supervision.

  • John P
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Only your professor and the medical profession can tell you if your idea is good.   If MRI scans on infants are not allowed for research purposes then you are scuppered.

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  • 1 month ago

    Well, your assignment was to propose a research study... not to conduct a research study. So, perhaps get the full details of the assignment before jumping in and worrying about how to conduct the study. Second, professional studies are often done with the assistance of other professionals. The people who propose/design the study sometimes are not the same people who are doing the research, then a third group (or back to the first group) will receive and analyze results. 

  • 1 month ago

    No. First, MRIs are extremely expensive and you need a medical order for one. Second, you would need IRB approval (Institutional Review Board) and NO ONE will give that to do studies on babies. Almost no one can do studies on babies--the liability and the possibility of life long damage is enormous. Also, you do not even know enough to interpret your findings as an aside.  No parent is going to consent for a freshman getting a BA to conduct this anyway.

    Dont waste your time on this one.

  • 1 month ago

    No. Not remotely.  You probably couldn't do that as a first year med student either.  No one is going to give you access to an MRI -- even with a tech in charge, and don't even thing about people allowing a teenager to use their babies as guinea pigs.

    You need to find a project that you can do yourself in a lab with the equipment available at your university. 

  • DON W
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    You are shooting too far, and your professor will turn it down.  Anything that requires support from others, particularly during the pandemic, is likely to be turned down.  Something that you can manage with your family and set of friends, including use of zoom-like technology, is more feasible.

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