Careers in Parapsychology
The SPR often receives enquiries about possible careers in parapsychology. It has to be stated at the outset that, while it is possible to study the subject atpostgraduate level at a number of universities in the United Kingdom, opportunities for permanent careers are few and far between. Funding to cover maintenance and university fees is not usually obtainable from the governmental agencies and research foundations that support work in the more traditional subjects. On completion of their projects, even if the students obtain a doctoral degree, the vast bulk of those who wish to continue research in this area must still seek a post in a related discipline that will provide them with the time and the facilities to pursue their specialised interest.
Research into psi may be carried out, as in orthodox science, by setting up experiments in controlled conditions, using laboratory apparatus and techniques as required. There is also room for "field" research, observing and experimenting in the vicinity of places or persons where phenomena are said to be prevalent, or recording and analysing reports of individual experiences suggestive of psi that have occurred spontaneously.
Research into extra-sensory perception is regarded by some as a branch of experimental psychology, but research into paranormal physical phenomena would appear to call for the skills of an engineer or a physicist, so much so that the term "paraphysicist" has been coined as an analogue of "parapsychologist". In fact, psychical research is a multi-disciplinary enterprise in which, according to the task in hand, such diverse experts as philosophers, anthropologists, linguists, historians, detectives, ethnologists, psychiatrists and neuro-physiologists have all played a part.
For most members of the Society for Psychical Research, even though some of them are distinguished experts and professionals in their own work, psychical research is of necessity a leisure-time interest. Researchers have managed to operate from a base in industry, in schools, or in professional practice as lawyers, psychiatrists and even ministers of religion. The SPR is happy to help individual members gain self-education and experience through access to its library resources, Study Days and Conferences, involvement in local groups and discussion with other members via our website. The wider your reading and experience, the greater the chance of your being able to make a significant contribution to psi research.