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Idaho State University Department of Psychology Research Participation Instructions

As in most major universities, Idaho State University’s Psychology Department asks students from several of its undergraduate courses to gain experience concerning field-relevant research either by (1) participating as subjects in social and behavioral sciences research and/or (2) completing alternative research projects, such as reading and summarizing research papers.

This participation serves two primary purposes. First, it helps students become acquainted with the investigative process of social and behavioral sciences, discussed in this and other psychology courses, through personal experience. Second, it provides opportunities for researchers to gather information about human behavior and make contributions to the larger social and behavioral science fields.

The Psychology Department administers this research participation through ISU Human Subjects Committee, which screens all research procedures to be sure that all research projects are ethically sound. Your participation as a research study participant is voluntary. Should you choose not to volunteer for experiments, alternative research projects are available. See your course syllabus or instructor for details.

Sona is our web-based system for managing research participation. Below are instructions for how to create an account, how to sign up for and cancel experiments, and how to check your participation record at any time.

Points vs. Credits vs. Units: In this document, a unit/credit refers to a single 30-minute period of time spent participating in research. A point refers to what you receive toward your grade in your psychology class. The exact number of points you will receive for each unit of research participation may be different across courses and across instructors. For example, if you participate in a study that takes 30 minutes to complete, you will receive credit for 1 unit of participation. However, your instructor may give you 5 points toward your course grade for every 1 unit of research participation. Therefore, you would receive 5 points. Similarly, if you participate in a study that is worth 3 units of research time (e.g., 1.5 hours), you will receive 15 points in your class. Again, the number of points you receive for each research credit will differ across courses and instructors.

Block-Out of the System After Three No-Shows

As an incentive against unexcused no-shows for research participation (this is the case for in-person studies and online studies that have a specified appointment time), students who log three (3) unexcused no-shows for research participation will be blocked out of the Sona system and will not be able to satisfy research credits by participating in a research study. Of course, alternative means of satisfying research requirements (e.g., research reports) will remain available to these students.




  1. Log onto the Sona system by going to http://isu.sona-systems.com
  2. On the right side of the screen, click on “Request Account.
  3. Enter all of the relevant information requested (you can change and update your information once you get an account—just be sure your email address is correct)
  4. When you receive your password via email, you can log into your account, change your password, and change your account information as needed.

A Special Note for Introduction to Psychology Students

Make sure you enter the correct section of PSYC1101 when you set up your account and indicate your course when signing up for experiments. There are several sections with different instructors. Failure to indicate the correct course and section may result in you not getting credit for your research participation, as your instructor will not receive notification of your participation.

Changing your Sona Profile

By clicking on “My Profile,” you can change your password, modify the email address to which the system sends messages, and add or delete courses for which research credit can be earned.



Signing up for a Research Study

  1. Log onto http://isu.sona-systems.com
  2. Access the system with your username and password
  3. Click on “Study Sign-Up”
  4. You should see a list of all currently active research studies. If you are looking for studies that have opening on a particular date, indicate the date at the top of the screen and press “Go.”
  5. Please note any restrictions listed on the right side of the screen. Do not sign up for a study if you do not qualify.
  6. Click on the title of the research study—this will give you more details regarding the study, such as a brief description of the study and the approximate amount of credit you will earn for your participation.
  7. If you are interested in participating in the study, click on “View Time Slots for This Study.”
  8. This screen will display all of the currently available time slots for which you may sign up (note: the system will allow you to sign up for only one time slot at a time).
  9. If you see a time slot that works for you, click on the “Sign Up” button to the right of the study title.
  10. An email will be sent to you regarding your research appointment.



Canceling a Research Participation Appointment

Please note that you must cancel your appointment to participate at least 24 hours before the appointment. If you do not attend an appointment without canceling at least 24 hours ahead of time (without a University-approved excuse) that appointment will be considered a ‘no-show’ and lost opportunity for bonus credits (described above).

If you must cancel an appointment, please follow these steps.

  1. Log onto http://isu.sona-systems.com
  2. Access the system with your username and password
  3. Click on “My Schedule and Credits”
  4. Click the “Cancel” button to the right of the research study for which you have an appointment but would like to cancel
  5. The next screen will ask, “Would you like to cancel this sign-up?”
  6. Click “Yes, I want to cancel”
  7. A confirmation email will be sent to you.



  1. Log onto http://isu.sona-systems.com
  2. Access the system with your username and password
  3. Click on “My Schedule and Credits”
  4. Your accumulated credits (not points) for each course will be listed

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my rights and responsibilities as a research participant?

YOUR RIGHTS: First, you may elect not to participate in any experiments. Most students find participation in research fun and informative. You may, however, elect to do alternative projects instead of participating in experiments. Second, you should be aware that you are free to leave any experiment, even once you begin it. There is absolutely no penalty for leaving an experiment under such circumstances, and you will receive credit units equal to the amount of time you spent (1 credit for every 30 minutes participation, or part thereof). You may also omit answering any question you do not want to answer.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES: When you choose to take part in research, you undertake a responsibility that is important for the successful continuance and productivity of psychological science. It is vital that you participate fully, giving an honest effort in all research situations. You should arrive punctually and in a normal (e.g., sober) condition. If you cannot make your research appointment, it is your responsibility to cancel your participation via Sona. If you have a university-approved excuse for a missed appointment, it is your responsibility to contact the researcher and your course instructor to within one week of the missed appointment.

Can I participate in the same experiment more than once?

NO—you may participate in an experiment only one time. Once you have participated in a study, the system will not allow you to sign up again.  Experiments are posted throughout the semester, and students should have ample opportunities to fulfill the requirement. That said, it is not recommended that you wait until the end of the semester to sign up for a study. One exception to this, of course, is if a research study has more than one part. In any case, each research study component will have its own Sona sign-up option.

What if I have an emergency that causes me to miss an experiment?

If you miss an appointment to participate in research, and have a University-approved excuse, you must contact the Principle Investigator/Faculty Advisor associated with the experiment within one week of the missed appointment. He or she will ask you to provide documentation of your University-approved excuse for missing the appointment. If the PI approves your excuse, s/he will remove the no-show indication. If you have been blocked out of the system due to three or more no-shows, this will remove the block (assuming that it puts your total number of no-shows below three).

How late can I be to research sessions that have a specified appointment (e.g., in-person studies)?

If you are over 5 minutes late, you will lose the opportunity to receive bonus points (as described above). This is necessary, as many experiments require punctuality to avoid running late for subsequent participants.

What happens if the experimenter doesn’t show up?

Should your experimenter not show up, wait at least 10 minutes; then go immediately to the Psychology Department main office (427 Garrison Hall). If you are on time and at the correct location but the experimenter did not come to the session, you will receive 1 unit of research credit for your trouble.

What happens if I “no-show” for three research appointments?

If you no-show for three research appointments, you will be blocked out of the Sona system and will not be able to sign up to participate in research studies. If your course has specific research requirements, you will be required to satisfy those requirements using alternative means (which are always provided).

What if I have a complaint or want to comment about an experiment?

If you have a complaint about a research study, we recommend that you first discuss this with the researcher conducting the experiment. Alternatively, you may address comments and complaints to the Principle Investigator/Faculty Advisor or to Dr. Michele Brumley, the Chair of the ISU Psychology Department.

Sona Systems User Manual

This manual can be used if you still have questions about how to use the system. You will only need to read the Student/Participants section.

For problems accessing your account, contact the Psychology Dept at psych@isu.edu or 208-282-2462. However, if you have problems or questions about a specific research project, contact the Researcher listed for that study.