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Published January 16th 2012
Does your lower back hurt? Are you a man aged 25 to 50 years? Do you have children? Do you have a brain?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be a suitable candidate to participate in a research project at the University of Queensland.
The university's academic staff and various institutes regularly run research projects that need participants. Participating in a research project can be fun, interesting, and you may even get reimbursement of some kind for your help.
You also have the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping to further research in important areas like medicine, psychology, child development and more.
I first found out about the University's research trials a number of years ago, when I saw an email calling for volunteers to participate in a psychology project on speech and memory. It sounded interesting, so I got involved. The process was very straightforward -- I just went along, read some stuff, then tried to remember it.
I can't remember if I was paid or not (apparently the memory part of the experiment wasn't my strong suit!) -- but I do remember thinking it was fascinating to see how this kind of research is done. You could also nominate to receive a summary of the research results later on, which I did, and they made interesting reading.
The university regularly publishes a list of volunteers that they're seeking in their newsletter, UQ Update. At the moment, for example, they're looking for Chinese and Chinese/European couples, people with lower back pain, healthy volunteers for brain and alcoholism research, men 25-50 for language research, people who've had whiplash, and parents of children with physical disabilities or illness.
Most research projects run at the university's St Lucia campus
The tasks you're required to carry out range from completing a short, on-line survey (for the parenting project) to participating in three 90-minute sessions of non-invasive brain stimulation (safe and painless, apparently). All projects go through a strict approval process before they begin.
Some projects offer gift cards or movie vouchers to thank volunteers. Others simply impart the warm inner glow of knowing you're contributing to important research.
If you're interested, check out the details in UQ Update (scroll down to the 'Volunteers' section). Who knows, you could learn something and have fun while contributing to a worthwhile cause.
If you're a twin you can also get involved in medical research in a range of areas. My sister and I have been volunteering for these for many years through the Australian Twin Registryhttp://www.twins.org.au/ and have participated in research about memory function, blood alcohol levels, allergies and a host of other interesting subjects. Fun and worthwhile.