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Research Participation Pool

The research participation pool is an essential and valuable component of the department’s teaching and research effort. The pool serves as an education tool for students to learn, first-hand, how research is conducted. The pool facilitates research by members of the department, by providing participants. Because the participant pool is a shared department resource, it is essential that all users of the research participation pool respect research volunteers and adhere to ethical and professional standards for research. By using the pool, you agree to follow all rules outlined in the researcher’s guide to Sona and any future revisions. Failure to do so may result in the loss of privileges.

Who can use the pool?

Current Psychology Department faculty (full-time and part-time) may use the research participation pool for data collection.

Undergraduates conducting research under the supervision of faculty members (Honors theses, independent research projects) may use the pool.

All research studies must have Human Subjects Committee approval before starting data collection. Faculty members (Primary Investigators) are responsible for proper documentation and ensuring that students and research assistants are in full compliance with ethical standards of the HSC, SUNY Oswego, and Department of Psychology guidelines.

Department of Psychology Research Participation System

The online service, Sona Systems, will be used for managing research projects, participation, and other aspects of the participant pool. This replaces the physical “bulletin board” system. Sona Systems functions in accordance with privacy laws and is in compliance with standards set forth by the Human Subjects Committee at SUNY Oswego.

The Sona Systems allows potential participants to browse available research studies. For researchers, the system provides the ability to schedule, manage appointments, assign credit to participants, and issue email reminders about upcoming experiments and appointments.

Researchers must first obtain an account by contacting the Research Coordinator ([email protected]). The Sona System specific to SUNY Oswego can be found at . This website is used for researchers, instructors and participants; however, each account is separate (e.g., researchers do not have access to student information, researchers and instructors need separate logins).


Participants who sign up with Sona Systems by the end of week 4 of the semester will be asked if they would like to take a prescreening survey upon first login into Sona. The prescreening serves 2 goals:

  1. Allowing researchers to screen for participants, in such a way that only eligible individuals see your study posting (e.g., restrictions based on demographic information or other screening measures). Researchers may also contact potential participants directly via email, based on Prescreen responses.

  2. Allows researchers to collect demographic information on the participant pool as a whole.

The prescreening questions should be approved as part of the Human Subjects Committee protocol for your study. The prescreening survey is updated prior to the start of each semester with HSC approved questions and questions cannot be added mid-semester. The deadline for question submission is 2 weeks prior to the start of each semester.

Scheduling Participants Based on Prescreen Responses

You have two options for using the pre-screening features, see the section “If you have IRB approved Prescreening Requirements“ below

  1. Study Displayed to All Eligible Participants Only: SONA automatically scores items from your measure and then displays your study ONLY to those participants who meet your eligibility criteria. You can set eligibility criteria based on responses to single items or based on the sum or average of a set of items. You can choose any range for the score, e.g., people who score < 10 and > 20 on your measure, or only people who score between 10 and 15 on your measure.

  2. Study Displayed to All Eligible Participants and They Receive Email Invitations from You Through SONA: You ask SONA to send the message to eligible participants. You can choose them based on these options:

    • Mean, sum or range of scores on a measure. Questions need to be in m/c format.
    • Specific responses to individual m/c questions (e.g., (Q1) right handed (Q2) women who (Q4) have children younger than three (Q5) who are divorced). If you use this option, please make sure that you chose an appropriate percent of eligible students in order to avoid sending messages to far more students than you have time slots available.

Distribution of Hours

Each researcher is allocated 20 hours at the start of the semester. Once a researcher has utilized the allotted hours, a request must be sent to the research coordinator for additional hours. It is critical that researchers post hours throughout the semester so that students have sufficient opportunities to fulfill their course requirements.

Researchers may not share hours. Only researchers listed together on a HSC application are permitted to share hours when they are working on a collaborative project.

The last two weeks of classes is open season, where the unused hours for the semester are released and researchers may post unlimited hours until 500 sessions are reached.

Important Notes about Requesting Hours

We encourage labs to share Sona usernames. This is specifically important when a lab has multiple research assistants. To maximize efficiency for hours distribution, a single username is best. Faculty should then advise research assistants in the posting of studies and timeslots.

The system has been set up to count 30 minutes of participation as 1⁄2 credit.

Posting Studies on Sona Systems

Notice: your study must be approved by the Human Subjects Committee at SUNY Oswego prior to posting it on the Sona System.

1. Using your researcher account, log into If you are a new researcher, please contact the Research Coordinator to obtain login information.

If you are adding a new study:

  1. Click “Add a New Study” and fill in the form. This information should be the same

    information you provided in the HSC application.

  2. Once you’ve added the study, you will need to submit a request to the Research

    Coordinator to activate the study. The “Send a Request” action must be performed, otherwise the Research Coordinator will not know that you are waiting for your study to be activated.

  3. Submit the “Activation Request” form to the Research Coordinator through the Google Form.

If you are reactivating a study:

  1. Click “My Studies.” Find the name of the study you would like to reactivate and click “Study Info.” Make changes if necessary.

  2. After updating the study, you must click “Send a Request” in order to notify the Research Coordinator that the study should be activated.

  3. Submit the “Activation Request” form to the Research Coordinator through the Google Form.

The Research Coordinator will review all of the information provided and send a notification to the researcher once the study is available for participants to view.

Important Notes about Posting Studies:

When any change is made to the study information, the study will automatically become deactivated. After making changes, please note that you will need to make the “Send a Request” action again in order for the study to be reactivated.

Specific Instructions for Entering Study Information

Selecting Study Type

  • Standard Study: One session, in-lab study

  • Two-Part Study: If the participant must return for more than one session (same study name)

  • Online Survey Study: This online study is hosted directly through the Sona System and researchers must program the study on their own.

  • Online External Study: If your HSC protocol has been approved as an online study, hosted on a different site (e.g., Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey).

Basic Information

All information should be consistent with the information approved by the HSC.

  • Study Name: Participants will see this name.
  • Brief Abstract: Leave this blank.
  • Detailed Description: This is the description visible to potential participants and should be exactly as the approved protocol. This description should not contain the length or number of credits received.
  • Eligibility Requirements: Information here is displayed to participants and not restricted by prescreening. Prescreening requirements are set later.
  • Duration: Must be in increments of 30 minutes (should be total duration for a two-part study).
  • Credits: Based on duration, 30 minutes = 1⁄2 credit. If your study is 80 minutes, 1.5 credits must be given.
  • Preparation: Leave this blank.
  • Researcher: This will be auto filled from the Login.
  • HSC Approval Code: This information should be provided to you by the HSC.
  • HSC Approval Expiration: This should be one year from the protocol approval date. Active Study: Select Yes if you want participants to see your study.

Advanced Settings

  • Pre-Requisites: per your approved HSC protocol
  • Disqualifiers: per your approved HSC protocol
  • Course Restrictions: none
  • Invitation Code: leave blank

Is this a web-based study? : automatically completed based on your response to Select Study Type
Should survey participants be identified only by a random, unique ID code?: This only appears for online surveys, respond at your discretion per your approved HSC protocol

  • Study URL: only use this line if you have an external online study
  • Participant Sign-Up Deadline: at your discretion, 12 hours is recommended
  • Participant Cancellation Deadline: default is 24 hours
  • Should the Researcher receive an email notification when a participant signs up or cancels: at your discretion
  • Researchers at Timeslot-level, can researchers for this study be assigned to specific timeslots: at your discretion, helpful if you want to keep track of multiple research assistants
  • Shared comments: may be left blank, can provide special instructions to research assistants.
  • Private Comments: leave blank.
  • Research Alternative: no

Assigning Credit

Participants can be assigned one of three options for each study: Credit, Unexcused No Show, Excused No Show.

  • Credit: If the participant arrives on time and all goes as planned, they should be granted full credit. If there is any problem that prevents the student from participating through no fault of their own (e.g., fire drill, equipment failure, etc.) assign full credit. If the participant signs the consent and stays for a portion of the experiment, based on the 1⁄2 credit = 30 minutes.

  • No Shows: Your lab should develop a clear and consistent policy for Unexcused vs. Excused absences. For example, if a student contacts the researcher 12 hours prior to the appointment and gives a reasonable excuse, an “excused no show” can be granted. If a participant fails to give notice prior to the experiment or gives notice immediately prior to their appointment an “unexcused no show” can be granted.

If the participant is late, the participant should be run at your discretion. Usually, if the participant shows up more than 5 minutes late one of two things can occur – manually cancel the participant to allow him/ her to sign up for a future timeslot. The second, is assigning either an excused or unexcused no show.

If the researcher is more than 10 minutes late, the researcher should apologize and explain the time commitment (approximate ending time) with the participant before the consent form is signed. Credit should be awarded for the time the participant waited for the researcher. If there is not enough time to run the participant, assign full credit.


Researchers should give 24-hour notice when cancelling a session. If the researcher cancels less than 24 hours, participants should receive full credit for the study.

Participants should give 24-hour notice when cancelling a session. If the participant cancels less than 24 hours prior to the study, participants may receive an Unexcused No Show.