I have had a lot of e-mails over the years asking me, essentially, how you become a parapsychologist. I decided to write this short guide on my understanding of the process so that individuals can have more information on the topic and they can then make the best decision for them.
I should initially point out two issues for readers. Firstly, I am defining a "parapsychologist" in this instance as an individual who is employed by a university to study a topic that can be defined as "parapsychological" (which in itself is open to different definitions). This is a very specific definition that can be open to a lot of criticism. For example, many of the people who work at the Rhine Research Center, or the IGPP, would not be defined as parapsychologists under this definition as these are private research centres. However, many would consider these individuals to be parapsychologists (indeed, their numbers include some of the most renowned parapsychologists in the world). The difficulty arises when defining what makes a parapsychologist, and indeed, what parapsychology is. However, these are extensive topics in their own right, so although the definition above is heavily flawed, it should work for the purposes of this document. I am merely highlighting one possible route to becoming a "parapsychologist" - others that would class themselves within the field have taken other routes.
Secondly, I am continually question whether or not I personally identify with the term "parapsychologist", or if my work is more clearly identified as something else. I more clearly see myself as a psychologist, or psychophysiologist, or as a cognitive neuroscientist, who happens to at times to research topics which could be defined as "parapsychological". I dislike trapping myself into a particular "box" of terminology, as my work encompasses several areas. I follow research questions that interest me and I feel are important, and I do not always concern myself of how the overall area that I am working in at any one time is defined.
This could mean that my advice is biased or even flawed. I would suggest that anyone wanted to engage in any career seek the advice of as many different people as possible in order to build-up as much information to base your decisions.
Read my guide on "Becoming a Parapsychologist". I wrote this to try and advise some of the students who contact me asking about this complex issue.