For Researchers

Important Dates/Deadlines


January 10th

First day to participate in experiments.

January 10th 

Prescreening survey opens

2 weeks after prescreen opens - January 24th 

Prescreening survey closes

Friday after prescreen closes - January 28th 

Prescreen results will be sent to researchers

April 22nd 

Last day for students to submit Alternative Assignments

April 22nd 

Last day for students to participate in experiments.

May 2nd 

Deadline for settling all research credit issues & discrepancies with students.

May 4th

Credit reports will be distributed to instructors 


Researcher Responsibilities and Information

Researchers in the Department of Psychology who wish to utilize the subject pool should become familiar with the procedures and deadlines. Deadlines will be posted and updated continuously and emailed to the researchers at the earliest convenience each semester. The subject pool includes students enrolled in PSY 100, 215 and 216. Procedures are the same for all, except that PSY 100 requires 6 hours of research exposure whereas PSY 215 and 216 require 4 hours.


IRB Information

All experimenters must go directly to the IRB for approval of studies. For instructions, go to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) website: You may also contact Peggy if you have questions about developing your IRB protocol (


SONA Subject Hour Cap

Number of subject hours you can use: You may post as many experiments as you wish (with IRB approval for each). The number of participants you may run is subject to the following limitation: Prior to the midterm date of the semester, each PI may use up to 600 credit hours in the Fall semester, and 400 hours in the Spring semester.  The purpose of this cap is to prevent a single very large study from soaking up all the available credit hours early in the semester. SONA enforces the cap. There may be special exceptions in which there are stricter limitations to the number of participants you can run that will be communicated to the department via email (for example, during COVID-19, increased use of the subject pool required greater restrictions).


The cap includes:

  • hours that have already been run
  • times slots scheduled and posted on SONA
  • hours in a multi-part study that are committed though not yet scheduled or run, e.g., when a student signs up for a longitudinal study with multiple sessions.


After the midterm date, if you need more hours you will need to contact the Sona Administrator to request them.


Pre-screening Procedures

  • Prior to the semester beginning - email is sent to faculty/graduate students asking for any measures to be included in the prescreen
  • There is a limit to the number of questions that can be included. The screen can take no longer than 50 minutes to complete, as it is worth 1 credit. Researchers who need to screen take priority; also, junior faculty take priority
  • Compiled screening survey is sent out to the department for confirmation - please READ these emails to ensure all of your modifications are included; otherwise, yours could be left off the prescreen
  • Screening survey is sent to the IRB for approval
  • Goal is to go live with the survey on the SONA site on the first day of classes. The survey will be posted for two weeks
  • After two weeks, the survey will be removed, and screening data will be compiled and sent to the researchers by the SONA Administrator


SONA Crediting Policies

Credit is allocated in .5 hour increments and participants should be given 10 minutes to travel to their next class or appointment (5 min for a .5 credit study):

1-25 min = .5 credits 
26-50 min = 1 credit
51-1 hr 20 min = 1.5 credits
1hr 21 min – 1 hr 50 min = 2 credits
Students cannot sign up for a study that is worth more credits than they have remaining. Therefore, the maximum number of credits a study can be worth is 6, and only PSY 100 students who did not take the screening survey would be eligible.


Online studies

Normally, students may earn only half of their credits via online studies. This does not include the screening survey (i.e., the screening survey counts as an in-person study, even though it is done online).
However, due to the COVID-19, students may earn all of participation hours from online studies.  
Online studies require students to sign up for a timeslot in SONA just like an in person study. The date and time of the timeslot is the deadline for the student to have completed the study. You can have a single time and date with several timeslots if you want. 
TIP: Do not make the time/date the very last day that credit can be earned to avoid frantic students having problems with the survey and SONA.
TIP: Some students will sign up for the study and then wait until the last minute to complete your online study. Some of these will forget. To prevent this from happening, make your timeslots have deadlines that are short term.
TIP: You may need to send emails to students who are signed up but never complete your online study to see if they are having difficulties. There is an option to send emails to all pending timeslots in SONA. It is recommended that you include this email in your IRB protocol.
Your study description in SONA will have a link (you provide) that students can click to take part in your study. You must have an IRB-approved way of delivering credit to your participants. Examples include (but are not limited to):
1. Having a separate survey at the end in which participants enter their name. All students who enter their name are granted credit. Students should be able to skip to the end of the survey and enter their name if they do not wish to complete the full study. This separate survey should be checked routinely so that credit is granted as quickly as possible.
2. Granting credit to participants automatically when they click the survey link, regardless of how much of the survey they complete. Please click this LINK for quick instructions on how to set up automatic crediting with Qualtrics.
PLEASE DEVELOP AN EFFICIENT WAY OF POSTING PARTICIPATION CREDITS FOR ONLINE STUDIES. Some students have tried to do an online study twice if their credit wasn’t posted promptly perhaps thinking their data weren’t recorded.


Recording research credits

Experimenters are responsible for entering research participation credits for their studies (see instructions below). Please enter credits ASAP after running a session. This reduces the number of emails you’ll get from students (and from the SONA Administrator) wondering why their credit is not posted. Keep a record of who participated in your study in case of disputes.


Credit for no-shows by the experimenter

If a student goes to a session and no one is there to run the session (for any reason) without notifying the student beforehand in a reasonable time frame (i.e., not simply putting a note on the door of a lab the day of the experiment), the student should receive full credit for arriving on time and at the correct location.


Cancellations by the participant - during study

Students who arrive at the study location and consent to the study are permitted to withdraw at any time during the study, and for any reason. They are still entitled to their credit(s). If a study involves multiple sessions over multiple dates, students should only receive credit for the time they have completed, provided that they were clearly notified of the credit value for each session of the study.


Cancellations by participant - before study

Participants may cancel their participation in the SONA system up to 24-hours before the study is scheduled to begin. Participants who cancel with less than 24-hours notice are instructed to contact the researcher at the researchers’ contact information listed on the study. Please be sure your contact information is listed correctly when you post studies.


Students will not receive credit - please use “excused no-show” for the reason in the SONA system. DO NOT use “unexcused no-show”, as the students are not penalized either way. Students who don’t show must have the opportunity to earn this credit at a future point, either by participating in another study, a later session of the same study, or by writing an article/presentation summary.


SONA Instructions

SONA is the online system for scheduling research participants. Please view SONA’s Researcher Tutorial video for information on logging in, adding and reviewing studies, making modifications to the study, and additional features.


For any SONA technical issues, please contact SONA Customer Support at

SONA Technical Support


Gaining Access to SONA - New Account

SONA requires that each researcher has their own account. To request an account, please email the SONA Administrator. Please include your full name, email address, name of your supervisor, phone number, and room location (office number). You will receive a user code and password to access SONA. You can change your user code and password later if you wish.


Gaining Access to SONA - Existing Account

If you were registered as an experimenter on the SONA system last semester you should be still registered now. If not, let me know and I will register you again.

If you were running a study on SONA last semester and you wish to run the same study again, your study should still be in the system. Contact the SONA Administrator if you encounter a problem. PLEASE DELETE YOUR INACTIVE STUDIES. If you do not delete the studies you are no longer running, the system becomes cumbersome.

If you used SONA last semester, but want to modify the experiment description please do so, but keep in mind that you may need to do an IRB modification. If so, please provide a copy of modified consent form (stamped) and explanation sheet (if applicable) to the SONA Administrator.


How to create and post studies:

Studies can only be posted for credit, not for financial incentive.

  • You can then select from four options/study types:
    • Choose “Standard Study” for in-lab studies that require participants to show up at a specific location at a specific time and participate in-person. You may set up multiple time slots.
    • Choose “Multi-Part Standard Study” for in-lab studies that require participants to participate in one or more follow-up sessions. You may set up multiple time slots for “Time 1”, “Time 2”, “Time 3”, etc. for participants to choose from.
    • Choose “Online Internal Survey Study” for online studies that are set up and administered directly within the SONA system (NOT Qualtrics, for example). Researchers must create the survey and store data directly in the SONA system.
    • Choose “Online External Study” for online studies that are hosted by an external system such as Qualtrics or SurveyMonkey. For this option, you create a survey in Qualtrics and copy/paste the survey link into SONA. Participants click on the link and are taken to the survey website.
  •  Please click this LINK for quick instructions on how to set up automatic crediting with Qualtrics.
  • Enter in study information (i.e., study name, abstract, eligibility, researcher, etc.)
  • Enter IRB Approval Code (this is required)
  • Check “active” or “inactive”. Choose “active” if you want your study to appear right away.
  • Enter in information for “Advanced Settings” section if necessary (i.e., prerequisites,  invitation code, email notifications for sign-ups, etc.)
  • Select “Add This Study”
  • Your study will be approved by the SONA Administrator. Once it is approved, you may add time slots.


How to add time slots:

  • Choose “My Studies” in the menu bar
  • Click on your study title, and in the gray “Study Menu” bar, choose “View/Administer Time Slots”.
  • Choose “Add a Timeslot”


How to enter credits:

  • Go to “My Studies”. Choose the relevant study (if you have more than one).
  • Choose “Time Slots”, then “View All Time Slots”, then “Modify”. Scroll down.
  • For each student who participated, choose “participated.”
  • For anyone who did not participate, please use “excused no-show”. DO NOT use “unexcused no-show”, as the students are not penalized either way.

*Students who don’t show must have the opportunity to earn this credit at a future point, either by participating in another study, a later session of the same study, or by writing an article/presentation summary.


Participants recruited through the early-semester screening must sign up for a particular time and date slot on SONA. When you contact a student based on the screening, direct them to SONA to sign up for the session you have arranged.


Feel free to contact the SONA/Subject Pool Administrator at if you have questions. For SONA system technical questions, please contact SONA Technical Support