Human Subjects Research Pool Overview, Guidelines & Instructions for Student Participants


All students enrolled in Psychology 201 and 202, and in Linguistics 301 and 396 and sometimes other specified courses (e.g., Linguistics 100, Psychology 303), are required to have some experience with empirical research.  One of the best ways to gain experience is to be directly involved in on-going research investigations.  If you agree to serve as a research participant, this document will describe your responsibilities for satisfying the research participation requirement and describe the procedures that you will need to follow.

Your participation serves five important functions.  First, most of what you learn in your psychology and linguistics classes is based on carefully conducted research with human volunteers. Research can seem rather mysterious in the abstract.  Participation in research studies gives you a first-hand look at the research enterprise that uncovers the explanations for human behavior. Second, you learn about and are exposed to a variety of different kinds of research methods and different areas within psychology and linguistics.  Methodology can range from survey, to measuring physiology, watching videos, responding to computer stimuli to interacting with others. This can help you obtain a better idea of the type of psychology or linguistics research you will be interested in pursing in the future. Third, you contribute to the knowledge base. Just as students in earlier generations contributed to the information in your text books, you also will be "paying it forward" by contributing to the knowledge base of generations that follow you. Fourth, you will become a better consumer of research literature. The first-hand experience with research will empower you to ask critical questions about results, generalizations and methodology based on psychological research. Finally, you may find the experiments enjoyable and/or interesting. This will have inherent value in enhancing what you are learning in your classes. Some comments from student participants about the studies are:

"The debriefing was great. In one study I was given a burned CD with my fMRI on it."

"A lot of them were really fun, especially the "game"-like ones."

"I learned some different ways of thinking in the debriefing, things that I had never thought of on my own."

Other benefits of participating in research are often mentioned in the consent forms of individual studies, which you will discover when you participate. You will use the following web site to sign up to participate in studies.

Information about Research Requirement - How it Works

Educational Experience: Research participation should be a valuable educational experience for you. As a research participant, you can usually expect to be given a complete explanation (the "debriefing") at the end of each study (either immediately, or by email). The purpose of the debriefing is to provide you with information to help you understand more completely the purpose of the study and its potential impact.

Obtaining Research Credits: Research credits are gained by participation in research projects. Each 15 minutes or less of participation = 1/4 research credit. One half research credit is awarded for 16-30 minutes of participation, 1 research credit for 46-60 minutes and so on.

Research Credits Required: Psychology 201 and 202, and Linguistics 301 and 396 require 4.5 research credits of participation. For other classes check your syllabus. If you are in more than one class, you must do research credits for each class. E.g., students in PSY 201 and 202 must do 9 research credits of participation.  PAID STUDIES DO NOT count toward this requirement.

No-Shows and Late Cancellations: In the event that you do not show up for a study, or you arrive too late for the researcher to run the study MORE THAN ONCE, you will no longer be able to use the participation option to complete your research requirement.  This means that if on more than one occasion you do not show up to a scheduled appointment, you will need to contact your GTF to get information to participate in the alternative assignment.

Right to Decline Research Participation Option: If you do not wish to fulfill your requirement through participation in studies, the course instructor will provide you with alternative assignments. The alternate assignment for all psychology and some linguistics classes is attending GTF run sessions where you will read empirical papers and write about the research.  Linguistics students may attend linguistics colloquia as an alternative. Talk to your instructor by the third week of the term if you would like to pursue the alternate assignment option. See your syllabus for additional information as well.

Failing to Obtain Enough Research Credits: When you agree to be a research participant you must complete enough studies to accumulate the required number of research credits for your course. If a student does not complete the required number of research credits by the end of the quarter, it is the Psychology Department's policy to give the student an "Incomplete" instead of the grade earned. The "Incomplete" will remain on the record for one year. If the required number of research credits are completed in less than one year, the "Incomplete" will be changed to the earned letter grade. If the required research credits are not completed by the end of the year, the incomplete will be changed to an "F". In order to make up these research credits, within a year, (1) reactivate your old account in Sona; (2) you will be asked to select a class, so choose "make up credits to remove incomplete." (3) Go ahead and make up the credits; (4) when you are done email csalmonatuoregon [dot] edu and inform that person that you have completed your course requirements for XXX class, from XXX term with XXX instructor. The undergraduate secretary will then contact the instructor and your grade will be changed.

Last Day to Obtain Research Credits: The last day to obtain research participation research credits is determined on a class by class basis. See your syllabus for this information. Try not to procrastinate! If you put off obtaining your research credits, there will be far fewer opportunities later in the quarter, and in fact, if you wait too long you may not be able to earn any research credit at all.

Signing up for Research Studies - Instructions

Getting Started

You are responsible for:

  1. Creating an account with the Psychology Research Participant Pool. If you have an account from prior terms, reactivate the old account.
  2. Scheduling appointments for research participation.
  3. Showing up on time for your scheduled research appointments. In the event that a researcher is late, wait 10 minutes. If the researcher does not appear in that time, you are free to leave without penalty AND you will be awarded 50% credit for the study.
  4. Canceling by 6pm the day before the study if you cannot attend the appointment.
  5. Writing down important information about the studies for which you sign up. You need to know
    1. The name of the study
    2. The name of the researcher
    3. The room number
    4. The study time


    If you arrive at the Psychology Department without this information, the front office staff does NOT have this information. You must bring it with you! If you lose the study information, you can always access it (name/date/location) by logging in to your Sona account and going to "my schedule/credits."

Creating an account

On the subject pool website (, click on the "New Participant - Request an account here" link.

Name: Please enter your first and last name as it appears on your student ID.
User-ID: This will be your login name for this system. Use whatever you like, as long as it is something you will remember. It is fine to use a name that you might use in an internet chat room or something else anonymous.
Email Address: Ideally you will enter a email address. If you are using a non-UO email address, please be sure your internet service provider allows emails from this system. Hotmail often "junk mails" messages from the system. Enter the full exchange: yournameatuoregon [dot] edu or the email address will not register.
Student ID #: Please enter your student ID number NOT your SSN.
Course #: You will need your course number and instructor's name. Select your course from the pull-down menu. If your course is not listed, please contact an administrator. If you are in more than one course, use the control key to select more than one line.

Password Change

The system will send you your assigned password to the email address you entered. You can change your password after you first logon.

Account Creation or Password Problems?

If you are unable to create an account or you do NOT receive a password, please drop by the Psychology Department front office or email hscoordatuoregon [dot] edu to get help with your account.

Prescreening Survey

When you log into Sona the first time a prescreening survey will be made available on the system. All students will be prompted to complete this survey.  All students are required to complete the prescreening question that asks about age.  All students who participate in studies must be over the age of 18, and this question will make sure everyone who participates meets this qualification.  You are not required to complete any other questions on this on-line questionnaire, and can choose the "choose not to respond" option for any or all questions except the 'Over Age 18' question.  However, you will get 1/2 research credit and you may be eligible for far more studies if you do complete it. Your responses to this survey are completely confidential.  The purpose of this survey is to get information from students so they can be selected for studies. The on-line forms you complete are meant to be "screening" questionnaires that researchers will use to recruit eligible participants with selected characteristics, which vary from study to study. The only way to participate in these studies is to be selected from the prescreening survey. If you qualify for a particular study, the individual researcher may call or email you to schedule research appointments for which you will receive research credit. Additionally, some researchers use Sona to filter you into studies so you will only see the study on the list if you are eligible. If you see password protected studies, these too require the prescreen. You may be contacted by a researcher if you are eligible.

Sign up for Studies:

There are two ways to sign up for studies.

  1. Select a study from the list of studies in Sona. Studies are posted as researchers schedule times. Check often and search for studies by date to find something to suit your schedule.
  2. Respond to contact by a researcher.  Individual researchers may contact you via phone or email if you qualify for their study based on your responses to the prescreening survey. The researcher will ask if you are interested in participating in their study for research credit. In some cases, the researcher may give you a password that will allow you to sign up for the study using the web-based Sona system . If you are interested in their study, follow their directions. However, there is NO obligation to participate in any study just because you qualify for it.


You should NOT sign up for a study for which you are not eligible (e.g., male signing up for a study requiring all females); you will NOT receive research credit and you will probably receive a penalty for doing this.

Study Passwords

If a study requires a password, that study is restricted to those who qualify based on responses to the Prescreen. Individual researchers may contact eligible participants to give them a password so they can use the password to sign up for the study. Do not share your password with other students please, as they may not be eligible for the study.

Participating in the Research Session

Bring the study information with you! It is your responsibility to write down and keep the following information about EACH of YOUR appointments:

  1. Where the study is to be conducted (Building and Room Number). If only a room number is provided, then the study is in Straub Hall. If "Cog lab" is written down, wait in the lobby of the basement where "wait here" signs are posted.
  2. Time and Date of the study (note a.m. or p.m. hours)
  3. Name of the study 
  4. Name of the researcher
  5. Telephone number for the researcher

NOTE: Be sure to check your e-mail before the study -- if the researcher cancels they must send you an e-mail by 9 PM the day before the scheduled study.

Show up on time: You must show up on time. Plan in advance -- give yourself enough time to get to the study at the time listed on the sign up page. If you are more than 5 minutes late, your appointment will be recorded as a "NO SHOW."  IF you have two no-shows, you will not be able to use the human subjects pool to complete your research requirement.  See below for what to do if the researcher is not present.

Researcher Not Present: If you arrive at a research appointment and the researcher is not present, first check to make sure you are in the right place! Double check that you wrote down the correct day and time. WAIT for at least 10 minutes. The researcher may be finishing up with another participant. If the researcher does not arrive within 10 minutes, you are free to leave. Please report the researcher "no show" TO THE RESEARCHER as soon as possible. The researcher may have already made arrangements for you to receive 50% research credit because of his or her absence. Please check to see if the researcher has contacted you and/or given you research credit. If not, contact the human subjects coordinator for help hscoordatuoregon [dot] edu. You will receive 50% of the value of the study research credit for a researcher "no show".

Right to Refuse Participation in a Study: Participation in ANY study is voluntary. When you arrive, you will complete an informed consent form that includes a brief description of the project. At that time, or at any time during the study, you have the option of withdrawing without penalty.  You will even get credit for keeping your appointment.  Sometimes it is necessary to withhold some information about the purpose of the study until your participation is complete.

Act Responsibly: Finally, be conscientious in performing your tasks in each study. The research is very important to the students and faculty conducting it, and your role is critical to the success of their efforts. Psychology as a science could not exist without the careful and responsible efforts of research participants. Give each study the effort and attention it deserves.  If the researcher believes your behavior to be disrespectful or that you are not particiapting effortfully, he/she can ask you to leave.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Deadline for Participants: 6 p.m. the day BEFORE the study

To Cancel an Appointment: If you must cancel, use the "Cancel" option on the Sona website. To do this, login to your account and go to "My schedule/research credits." You will see a cancel option. Make sure you confirm the cancellation! (Sona will ask you to do this).

Cancellation Deadline for Researchers: 9 p.m. the day before the study. Make sure you check your email before you go to bed or first thing in the morning before you go to the study. You will not get research credit if you appear for a study that has been cancelled by the researcher by 9 p.m. the evening prior.

It is YOUR RESPONSIBILTY to cancel if you cannot attend a study. If you do not follow proper cancellation procedures, you will receive a no-show.

If you need to cancel after the 6 p.m. deadline, you must contact the researcher directly. You can obtain contact information by accessing the study information in Sona. Late cancellations must receive confirmation from the researcher that it is OK. The researcher may ask you to reschedule.

Making up an Incomplete

If you are making up an Incomplete from the previous quarter, reactivate your old account. Do NOT create a new one. When selecting a course, do NOT select the course you are making up (e.g., Psych 201) as that course is for the current term only. Rather, select the course called "make up credits to remove incomplete." When you are done making up the required research credit hours, contact csalmonatuoregon [dot] edu who will verify for your instructor that it is now OK to put your earned grade through to the registrar.

Other Important Information

Complaints and Questions about a Study: If you have any complaints or questions about a study, please first contact the principal investigator (PI) directly. You can find the name of the PI from either the consent form, the debriefing form, or by going to the study description in Sona. (Access it through my schedule/research credits and click on the name of the study). If you are not satisfied with the PI's response, you can contact the human subjects coordinator hscoordatuoregon [dot] edu, or the faculty member in charge of human subjects, Paul Dassonville, at prdatuoregon [dot] edu or Research Compliance Services at ResearchComplianceatuoregon [dot] edu.

Human Subjects Committee Approval: Any study in which you participate will have already been approved by the University Human Subjects Committee. This insures that someone other than the researcher has determined that the procedures for a study follow strict ethical guidelines.  Any risks must be revealed to you prior to your consent to participate.  Despite these safeguards, there are still wide variations in people's reactions to the different kinds of tasks they are asked to perform in research studies. If you feel that you have been mistreated by the researcher or asked to perform tasks that make you uncomfortable, remember that you have the right to leave any study at any time. If you leave a study before completing it, you will still receive research credit for the amount of your participation time up to the nearest half hour.