Department of Psychology Research Subject Pool
This page is intended to provide research participants with the information they need to successfully navigate the subject pool participation process. In a nutshell, participants must:
- Sign up for studies online at https://csus.sona-systems.com
- Show up for the their appointments with their 4-digit participant ID number handy, and complete the studies
- Monitor their credit earnings online and make sure they satisfy their requirements by the end of the semester
We have developed the following “Quick-Start” guides to help get participants up and running in the Psychology Research Website:
We have also developed the following question-and-answer series to try and be most informative in educating participants about our requirements and procedures. If you have a question that you do not see answered here, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to answer your question, and might even add the new question and answer to this page.
- Who participates?
- Why do we require (or give extra credit for) research participation?
- How do I sign up to participate in research studies?
- When should I sign up?
- What is the 4-digit participant ID code?
- What are the studies like, and what should I expect when I show up?
- What should I do to prepare before participating in a study that I signed up for?
- Can I participate in a study that I did not sign up for in advance?
- I signed up for a study but something came up and I can’t attend—what do I do?
- I am running late for my appointment—what do I do?
- What happens if I miss an appointment that I had signed up for, and did not cancel or contact the researcher ahead of time?
- I missed several appointments that I made, and now the system won’t let me sign up for more studies—what can I do?
- The researcher did not show up—what do I do?
- How can I check how many hours I need, and how many I have already completed?
- I’m in two classes that require research hours and/or provide extra credit for participation—what do I do?
- What happens if I don’t complete my required hours?
- I do not want to participate in research, but it is a class requirement—do I have any other options?
- How can I prove that I attended a session when I haven’t been given credit online?
- Required Participation: Students enrolled in PSYC 2, 4, or 8 are required to participate in 3 hours of research (or a research alternative, described later) through our human subjects pool. They are required to complete 3 hours per class, even if enrolled in two or more classes in the same semester. The only exceptions to this rule are (1) summer classes, because the subject pool is closed in summers, and (2) classes beginning after 5pm, because very few research projects are available after-hours to those students who cannot come to campus before 5pm.
- Extra-Credit Participation: Some instructors of other classes also choose to offer extra-credit for student participation in research, most likely if the instructor deems such participation beneficial to comprehension of the course material. At their discretion, the instructors may add requirements such as reaction papers or worksheets tailored to what those instructors hope their student will gain from their participation.
- Our subject pool has been part of our curriculum for several decades. The reason for requiring participation in these lower-division introductory courses is to give psychology majors early first-hand experience as a psychology research participant, which should help give them some insight into the science of psychology. At the same time, the subject pool provides a valuable source of participants and data for the research carried out by our advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. This is a very common practice in large psychology departments at many universities.
- All research for subject pool credit is managed through the Psychology Research Website, hosted by Sona Systems’ Experiment Management System. The Psychology Research Website can be found at: https://csus.sona-systems.com .
- You will need to self-register in the Psychology Research Website if you have not yet done so. Please see the Quick-Start guide “Participants: Self-Registration” for an overview of the easy self-registration process. During the process you will enter your saclink ID, and you will designate which class(es) you are enrolled in. You will then receive an e-mail message through your saclink account with instructions for logging in.
- Important: It is CRUCIAL that you link yourself to the proper class(es) so that you end up on the correct class roster(s) in the website. If you are on the wrong roster(s), you will likely end up with an incomplete grade even if you completed your hours, and you will have an administrative mess on your hands! Note that you can adjust your classes at any time if your schedule changes.
- Once you are logged in you will have the ability to sign up for studies and view a summary of your research credits and requirements. Please see the Quick-Start guide “Participants: Overview of Features”.
- Some of the larger, continuation studies – primarily directed by graduate students and faculty – will become available early in the semester and they would to love to have their sessions fill up early! Please sign up and participate early in some of these projects!
- After mid-semester (around the 7th and 8th weeks of the semester), newer projects – including most of the projects designed and directed by advanced undergraduate students in their research classes – will start to become available. Class projects are on tight timelines and they need their participants in order to complete their class projects. Please sign up for some of the mid-semester projects as they become available so the researchers can get their participants quickly!
- Availability of research will diminish drastically after the 14th week of the semester. During the last week (Week 15), there will likely be a few studies still running but availability will be much more limited so we strongly recommend getting most or all hours completed prior to the last week. There will be no subject pool research scheduled during finals week.
- As an extra protection for your privacy, we have opted to use a feature in the Psychology Research Website that assigns a unique 4-digit ID code to each participant.
- This code is separate from your student ID and login information; it is assigned within the web system as an identifier for you that will be used in place of your name when researchers view their lists of sign-ups for their projects and assign credits to you as participants. They will not see your name, only your 4-digit ID.
- You can find your 4-digit ID code when you view your profile in the research website, and in e-mail confirmations and reminders that are sent to you for your upcoming study sessions.
- IMPORTANT: Bring your 4-digit ID code with you to your research sessions so you can be assigned credit for your participation! Also, if you need to communicate with researchers about your participation in their studies they will not have any record of your name in their participant lists, so you will need to tell them your ID code if they need to make any credit adjustments in the website.
- Many studies are made up of paper-and-pencil (or occasionally on-line) surveys that you are asked to complete.
- Others involve more active procedures where you are asked to perform a task of some sort and perhaps complete some questionnaires as well.
- Regardless of the type of study, you should expect the following. This list is motivated both by your ethical rights as a participant and our goal of your research experience having educational value to you:
- Courteous, professional researchers.
- A sign-in sheet to document your attendance (so you get credit).
- An informed consent process before the study, giving you basic information about the study and allowing you to opt-in or opt-out without penalty (other than forfeiting the credit you would have received).
- The option to refuse answering any questions you are not comfortable with, or discontinue your participation without penalty (although depending on timing, you may not receive full research credit).
- A debriefing session afterwards to explain the study to you, so that you can learn from your experience.
- Contact information for the researchers in case you have further questions or want to learn about the results of the study when it is completed.
- Prompt (within 1 or 2 days max) assignment of research credits in the Psychology Research Website so you can keep an accurate assessment of your progress.
- Make sure you know your 4-digit participant ID number that is assigned to you by the Research Website. It is your responsibility to make sure the researcher gets your number so that you will receive credit for your participation.
- Beyond that, the most important thing you can do is show up on time, ready to take the experience seriously and put forth your best effort. After all, you would hope for the same if you were in the researchers’ shoes—and you may be in those shoes before long if you continue to study psychology!
- Please do keep in mind that researchers put a LOT of time, effort, and planning into preparing their research studies and they have a genuine interest in obtaining high-quality and meaningful results. Please be helpful and courteous to them.
- While it is strongly preferred that you sign up in advance, the researchers do have a mechanism for assigning credit to drop-ins, at their discretion. They, however, are under no obligation to accept drop-ins or to show up to a session that nobody had signed up for by 6pm the prior evening.
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- As a good CSUS citizen and student of psychology, it is important that you take your appointments and participation seriously.
- You may cancel your appointment through the Psychology Research Website any time up through 6pm the evening before the study.
- After 6pm you will not be allowed to cancel so you should contact the researcher with as much prior notice as possible, so that he or she can plan accordingly for your absence.
- If you do not cancel and do not contact the researcher you will be assigned as a “no-show”.
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- Probably the best thing to do is show up and talk to the researcher, possibly to reschedule for a later day or time.
- However, PLEASE do not disrupt the research session. If the door is closed, leave it closed until the session is completed. Many studies have strict procedures and interruptions throw the session off.
- If the researcher is in the hallway or doorway then he or she may be willing to quietly discuss the situation, but be prepared to wait until the end of the session to avoid disruption.
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What happens if I miss an appointment that I had signed up for, and did not cancel or contact the researcher ahead of time?
- You most likely have been marked as a “no-show” on the project. If your absence was due to an emergency and you contact the researcher quick enough, you may be able to have it designated as an “excused” no-show, which means it will not count toward your “no-show” tally that is kept in the system (see below). Unless impossible to do so, please reschedule with the same researchers so they don’t lose a participant entirely.
- If you have multiple (unexcused) no-shows, displaying a pattern of making appointments but then failing to show up for them, the Chair of the Human Subjects Committee and your course instructor(s) will be notified. If the problem persists, your subject pool privileges may be revoked.
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I missed several appointments that I made, and now the system won’t let me sign up for more studies. What can I do?
- If you have multiple no-shows, displaying a pattern of making appointments but then failing to show up for them, the Chair of the Human Subjects Committee and your course instructor(s) will be notified.
- If the problem continues, your subject pool privileges may be revoked, meaning you will not be able to participate in any more research during that semester.
- If you have a class that requires hours, you may complete the research alternative to satisfy your requirement (which has a due date of Friday in the 14th week of the semester) and avoid the “Incomplete” grade—otherwise take the incomplete and do your hours next semester.
- If your class is offering extra credit, then you have lost your privileges for using the subject pool for this purpose. Contact your course instructor to see if there are other options for extra credit. The Human Subjects Committee will not review alternative papers for extra credit purposes.
- If you feel that you have a compelling reason to have your subject pool privileges reinstated, explain yourself clearly in writing and submit your request to email@example.com for consideration. Be prepared to submit documentation of any emergencies or situations outside of your control that led to your excessive no-shows. Allow approximately one week for a response.
- TO AVOID THESE HASSLES, BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENTS!
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- Researchers put a LOT of time, effort, and planning into preparing their research studies and it is very rare that you will experience a missing researcher.
- Over the years we have found the following situations have commonly led to a “missing researcher” complaint:
- There was an emergency outside of the researcher’s control (e.g., car accident on the way to campus) and he or she missed the session.
- The researcher was delayed and running a few minutes late, but one or more participants had already left.
- The participant accidentally went to the wrong room, but the researcher was, in fact, present in the scheduled room.
- The researcher checked the website and did not have anyone signed up in advance, and therefore did not show for the empty session—this only comes up when a participant hopes to drop-in, or accidentally shows up at the wrong time.
- If you were signed up in advance for a session, and you did not cancel through the website, and you showed up for the study but found the researcher to be absent (not late, but absent), then you are entitled to receive credit. Contact the researcher first, and if the issue is not resolved contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.
- Credit will NOT be granted automatically to participants who do not contact the researcher within a reasonable amount of time (usually the same or next day). We will assume that those who do not contact the researcher were also no-shows, and they have already benefitted by avoiding a “no-show” mark in the Research Website.
- Log in to the Psychology Research Website (https://csus.sona-systems.com ) and click on My Schedule/Credits for a summary of your credits and study signups.
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I’m in two classes that require research hours and/or provide extra credit for participation—what do I do?
- You are required to complete separate hours for each class.
- The Psychology Research Website will allow you to divvy up your earned hours across your different classes. YOU must make sure that each class has the required number of hours (or your desired number, in the case of extra credit).
- Instructors will ONLY see their own class rosters, so if you have allocated too few hours to a particular class, you will receive an Incomplete grade when participation is required, or reduced extra-credit earnings for classes giving extra credit.
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- If you don’t complete your required hours (or don’t allocate enough hours to a particular class if you have multiple classes in the system) you will receive an “Incomplete” grade in the class or a reduced number of extra credit points, depending on the class.
- When you receive an Incomplete, you will have one year to complete your hours or the University will automatically change the Incomplete grade to an “F”. Once you complete your hours you should contact the instructor you had for the class and let him or her know so they may submit a grade change form to replace the Incomplete. There is no automatic notification system to the instructors, so the incomplete will NOT be overturned automatically—you must notify the instructor. If you cannot locate the instructor, contact email@example.com for assistance.
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I do not want to participate in research, but it is a class requirement—do I have any other options?
- The purpose of the participation requirement is to learn about research methods first-hand, through direct experience as a research participant in current research projects going on in our Department.
- However, you cannot be forced to participate in research against your will. It is a completely voluntary process where you give informed consent to serve as a research participant.
- If you do not want to participate, you have the option of carrying out an alternative research assignment. This alternative assignment is also intended to demonstrate your learning about research methods, even if only second-hand, by reviewing reports of research studies that have recently been completed and published in Psychology research journals.
The details of this alternative paper can be found in the document Alternate Research Assignment Spring 2015.
You may carry the following form with you and have researchers sign to verify your attendance: (Click Here for Form). While the form is not your official record of credits, it may help in the event of a discrepancy to try and research and resolve the issue.
Please allow researchers 2 to 3 days to get their records into the research website. If you feel your credit has been overlooked, contact the researchers to try and resolve the issue. If you cannot resolve the issue with the researcher and feel you deserve credit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further guidance from the Human Subjects Committee.
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