Three critical issues underlie the recruitment and retention of diverse participants in research: (1) make research opportunities accessible and visible to everyone, (2) evaluate applicants equitably, and (3) establish quality, mentored research experiences. To create truly accessible research experience means creating structural change to enable equitable, transparent, and multidisciplinary access to diverse research mentors and students at all levels.
MuserTM is a flexible, scalable, low-maintenance web-based software application that largely automates an otherwise cumbersome process of enabling transparency and equity around academic research. (In plain English: Muser makes it easy to run a big, flexible, program with minimal staffing). Muser catalyzes social and structural change in academic research through simple technology.
Faculty websites and recent publications do not reflect the actual research projects ongoing in the lab. Most research opportunities are not advertised at all and thus are invisible to most students. Many students need to know when and where to look for opportunities. Muser demystifies access and availability of research opportunities.
Muser automates a complex sequences of processes such that “rounds” can be run regularly at set times when positions are available, removing the need to constantly search job websites or arbitrarily pick a day to send email inquiries.
Directly asking professors requires cultural capital, confidence, and is prone to bias. Recruiting the “best student in the class” is prone to bias and is an expensive and inefficient approach. Faculty are a small percentage of research mentors: postdocs, grad students, research team leaders are often the actual mentors. Muser levels the playing field so that all students see and have access to research opportunities. Muser enables all researchers (not just faculty) to discover and access the full diversity of students.
Both students and mentors have implicit biases. In the absence of process and clarity, students choose mentors relying upon implicit bias. Names and other kinds of personal information bias assessment of applicant abilities. Muser applicants review projects before seeing mentor information. Muser mentors review application essay before seeing student names. Muser makes it easy to combat biases through relational database structure that easily decouples information.
It can be difficult detect intellectual connection outside of a student’s major. It can be challenging for researchers to discover students beyond their classroom and department. Muser facilitates interdisciplinary research and enables unexpected intersections of interests, curiosity, and passions.
Muser is real action for change – not just an empty statement about equity and inclusion. Muser has served thousands of mentors and students over the past decade. Muser is now poised to become a major force in the much-needed “boots on the ground” structural change in academia for equity, inclusion, access, and interdisciplinarity for undergraduate and graduate research. Muser offers tangible and testable results for inclusion and structural change in academia. Muser is used by multiple academic institutions.