Dr. Rick Oaks

Dr. Rick Oaks

RICK OAKS, PhD studied psychology and sociology at Harvard, received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Michigan, then did two post-doctoral fellowships at Yale. Since then he has taught many courses on research methods at both the undergraduate level and in a doctoral program in higher education leadership.

He is an expert in mixed methods research; that is, the sort that combines interviewing and questionnaires

If you lean toward qualitative research, he can help you plan interviews that will elicit vivid, detailed narratives from your participants, and show you how to interpret them.

If you are more interested in the quantitative side of things, he can help you turn your informal hunches into testable hypotheses, design questionnaires that will actually measure whatever is of interest to you, and analyze the results statistically.

Perhaps most important, as an exceptionally thoughtful editor, he can help you express your most complicated ideas clearly and gracefully: the kind of writing of which you will be proud, and that your friends, colleagues—and dissertation committee—will read with pleasure.

Although Rick teaches statistics (among other things), his first love is interview research. He has published three books and many articles in the field. These include studies on the meaning of work in the lives of mid-career businessmen, the family tensions that sometimes arise when first-generation college students become more educated than their parents, and the way that students can sometimes discover who they really are by temporarily dropping out of college. His current projects include a book on the interpretation of life stories, and a documentary film about the revival of the traditional arts in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia.


Harvard College BA (Social Relations)

University of Michigan PhD (Psychology)

Yale University Post-doctoral Fellow


Mixed Methods Research


Dissertation Seminar

Research Methods

General Psychology

Psychological Perspectives

History & Systems

Adulthood & Aging

Life Span Development


Social Problems

Adult Development

Interpretive Research

Adult Development

Developmental Psychopathology


Principles of Psychotherapy

Documenting Lives


Current Projects

Rick is working on a documentary film about artists in Cambodia, many of whom survived the genocide of the Khmer Rouge period, who are now trying to rejuvenate forms of art—music, dance, painting, sculpture, shadow puppets—that were very nearly lost forever. He plans to extend this project to include survivors of the genocide who are now living in Lowell. This will become part of a larger web-site, available to teachers and community leaders here and in Cambodia.

Rick is also working on a book about the interpretation of life narratives.

– Expert in mixed methods research (interviews and questionnaires)

– Qualitative research

– Quantitative research

– Questionnaire design


“Hey Rick, The rumors are confirmed. I defend tomorrow at 1pm. I did my mock and with only a few edits it went very well. They tell me I’ve passed and tomorrow is only a formality. However, I will bring the cannoli anyway, just in case. I appreciate so much your help. You got me out of a pickle and I owe ya.” – David H.

“Amazing to work with. Extremely talented!” – Scott Swapp

“I would not have graduated if it were not for Rick’s help. He was incredibly patient and gave a lot of advice. He also displayed a vast knowledge of not only statistical principles, but also the proper structure and execution of my participant survey and final thesis write-up.” – J. Aslinger

“Rick, Dr. M would like me to continue working with you. He also would like me to recommend you to two other students who are having extreme difficulty in getting their literature reviews approved. My sincere thanks.” – Cheryl