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This page contains information about the system for research participation that students and faculty in the Marist College Psychology Department use.

Information for Participants

If you need to complete a research participation requirement for Introductory Psychology, please read all of the following carefully.


Introductory Psychology students are required to fulfill a research participation requirement either by participating in research or completing an equivalent alternative assignment. The research participation requirement is that Introductory Psychology students participate in 3 Sona credits-worth of studies. Studies range from 1-3 credits but the total number of credits need to add up to 3. Some of these studies are in-person and some can be completed online. All of the research projects that will be available to you are approved by the Marist College Institutional Review Board (IRB) and coordinated through the Psychology Department via the Sona system. The Sona system is online and can be accessed from anywhere, including your phone, although it is recommended that you use a browser no more than 2 years old when you log in. Information about how to sign up for an account in Sona is below. You should know that Sona refers to research participation as a "credit." This kind of "credit" is NOT the same as an academic credit (you get those from passing college courses; for example, PSYC101L is a 3-credit course).

Most of the information below is about how to sign up to be a research participant. It is important that you read all of this thoroughly because you are responsible for abiding by all of the policies articulated here.

If you do not wish to be a research participant, you can do the alternative assignment, which involves writing ONE paper about an empirical article from a psychology journal. Details about how to complete that assignment are below---be sure to read them thoroughly.  

Why is there a research participation requirement?

The research participation requirement has a number of implications for our program. The participation requirement creates a "pool" of participants for investigators (faculty and advanced students) to draw from in order to conduct their research. This is important to further the process of active empirical investigation that characterizes the science of psychology. For participants, this is an opportunity to experience the research process in a hands-on way. It is our intention that this will provide all student participants with an appreciation of how the science of psychology is informed by direct data collection. Introductory Psychology students who go on to higher-level psychology coursework will also have this experience as a frame of reference for methodological and ethical issues that they will continue to encounter. Students wishing to prepare themselves for graduate-level study may go on to do independent projects later in the program, in which they would get to see both sides of this process.

Rights of research participants

First, participation in any study is voluntary, so you may elect to opt out of the research participation requirement. However, if you opt out of participating in research studies, an alternative assignment must be completed (see "Alternative assignment" below).

Second, once you begin to participate in a study, you are free to leave at any time, and for any reason. There is no penalty to you for leaving, and you will receive credit equal to time spent.

Responsibilities of research participants

First, protect your account. You are responsible for all activity in your account, so keep track of what you do with your account and make a note of the procedures and penalties described here and on your course syllabus.

Second, be on time if the study is in-person. Keep track of the date, time, location and name of the study—write it down, put it on your calendar—when you sign up. If you forget this information, you can retrieve it from the Sona system.

Third, take it seriously. When you choose to take part in research, you contribute data that we use to understand human behavior. We expect your honest effort in all research situations. Also, please do not discuss with anyone the aims and methods of any experiment until that work is complete.

Finally, it is your responsibility to cancel any session for which you have signed up when you learn you will not be able to attend that session. More information about canceling can be found below.

If you are a minor (under 18 years old)

If you are 17 years old or younger, you cannot participate in research studies scheduled through Sona to fulfill this requirement. Instead, here are your options to fulfill the requirement:

  1. If your 18th birthday is during the semester you are enrolled in Introductory Psychology, you can wait until after your birthday, then sign up and participate in two different studies scheduled through Sona (as described in the rest of this website) OR
  2. You can complete the alternative assignment (as described below—scroll down to “Alternative assignment” for instructions) OR
  3. Minors (ONLY) can participate in a research simulation exercise, if it is available. This is similar to participating in research scheduled through Sona—it will take as much time (less than one hour, total) and involve similar activities. The research simulation exercise can be completed any time during the semester you’re enrolled in Introductory Psychology, but it must be scheduled through Dr. Levering. If you are interested in this option, please contact Dr. Levering for details ( Allow 48 hours for a reply.

No matter which option you select, you must fulfill the requirement by 5 p.m. on Friday of the last week of classes. If you wish to schedule the research simulation exercise, you must contact Dr. Levering by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday of the last week of classes, at the absolute latest. Please do not wait until the last minute to complete the assignment in whatever form you choose.

How to sign up to participate in a study

We use an online scheduling system, Sona, to keep track of your research participation. In order to complete your two credits of participation, you must log into this site, set up your account, and sign up for two different studies through the system. It will also show you once you have completed each credit of research participation.

In order to log into the system, go to Request an account by clicking on "Request Account" (right side of page). On the "Account Information" page, you will need to enter the following:

  • Your first and last names  
  • Your date of birth (you must be 18 years old or older to participate in research scheduled through Sona. If you are a minor, see “If you are minor,” above, for your options)
  • Your user ID (this is whatever comes before the @ of your Marist email address, INCLUDING the number, for example: Firstname.Lastname1 )
  • The section of Introductory Psychology you're enrolled in (this is under "Course;" select your section from the drop-down menu. If you don't know your section, check your course syllabus or degree progress report)

Once you enter that information, you will receive an email at your Marist email address with your login information. You are now free to log into Sona, look at available studies, and configure your account in other ways. It is recommended that you change your initial password the first time you log into Sona.

Important: Once you log in, make sure your account is set up to email you at the address you check most often. The default is for the system to contact you (with confirmation and reminder information that you will need) at your Marist email address. If there is another address that you use more often, change your contact information under "My Profile" > "Provide an alternate email address."

To see the list of available studies, go to "View Available Studies." As you are looking at studies, make a note of the eligibility information. Some studies request participants with specific characteristics or have restrictions, so they may not work for you.

Important: When you are looking for a study to sign up for, you may not see anything listed. Don't panic! Only studies with timeslots that are currently available will be visible to you. If you don't see anything, check back. The list of studies will be updated throughout the semester. There will be enough participation opportunities for everyone, but they will be spread throughout the semester, so, again, check the list of available studies frequently.

**Please, do not leave participation until the last minute. Your research requirement must be completed by Friday of the last week of classes, at 5 p.m. No exceptions will be permitted.

Once you sign up for a study, an email confirmation will be sent to you. If you do not receive an email confirmation, log into Sona to make sure your appointment actually registered, and make sure Sona has your correct email address. You can see details about your appointment under "My Schedule/Credits."

After you have participated

When you have participated in a study, this will be visible as a "credit" on the main page of your Sona account under "Credits Overview."

Remember that you must complete 3 credits.

Expect to receive credit for a study within 24 hours of having participated. If 24 hours has passed and you did not receive credit, contact the researcher of the study you participated in directly (his or her email will be on Sona) and explain the situation.

Late arrivals for in-person studies

If you are late to your appointment, the researcher is under no obligation to have you participate in the study. Late arrival causes delays for all remaining appointments.

Canceling or missing an in-person study

You can cancel an appointment up to 12 hours prior to the appointment. You do not need to provide an explanation. In Sona, go to "My Schedule & Credits" -> "View or cancel my study appointments" to cancel your appointment. If you can't make an appointment, you must cancel through the Sona systems at least 12 hours before your scheduled time of participation.

Students who fail to appear for a scheduled appointment will receive a "no-show." After 2 "no-shows," students will be denied access to the participant pool and MUST complete the alternative assignment to fulfill their course requirement.

What if I show up and no one is there?

If you are at the study location on the right day and time, wait 15 minutes. If nobody shows up, inform the researcher, at the e-mail address given on the website, of the date, time, location, and name of the study. If it was your mistake, you will not receive credit. If it was the researcher's mistake, you will receive your credit.

What if all the study sessions are taken?

Only studies with currently available timeslots will be visible on Sona, so it's possible that you could log into Sona and not see anything at a given time. If this is the case, remember that studies start and stop at different times during the semester, and those with open timeslots fill up quickly. Please check in periodically to see what's available. However, don't put off your participation until the very end of the semester! If you wait until the last minute, there will probably NOT be enough opportunities to go around, and you will not be able to fulfill your requirement.

What if I only complete one or two credits of participation?

The participation requirement is for you to complete either 3 credits of research participation via Sona or the alternative assignment. If you complete 1 or 2 credits, you will still need to complete the alternative assignment to fulfill your requirement. There is no partial fulfillment of the requirement, no exceptions.

Follow-up, questions, concerns, or complaints about studies

If you are curious about how a study turns out or have questions about a study, contact the researchers or Principal Investigators (PIs) of the study. This information is on Sona and on the consent form you received when you participated.

Concerns or complaints about study procedures or consequences should be directed to the PIs of the studies or the IRB.

Alternative assignment

Students who do not wish to participate in research must complete the following alternative assignment. NOTE: Only ONE alternative assignment is required---one paper, as described below, will count for all 3 credits of research participation through Sona.

  • Select an empirical article (an article that presents research that the authors have done; it will include method and results sections) from one of the journals listed in the table of contents of this document.
  • To do this, you will first have to check to see if we subscribe to the journal.
  • Once you have found the journal, check out a recent issue to see the table of contents.
  • Choose an empirical article from a recent issue.
  • Print out and read your article.
  • For your assignment, write a two-page double-spaced reflection on the study, including:
    • A summary of the main points of the article (What was the authors' motivation? What did they do? What did they find? What did they think their findings meant?)
    • A reflection of the practical purpose of the study and the value to society of the findings

Your paper must be the product of your own original thinking and must be written completely in your own words. If the article you choose contains more than one study you need only write about one of the studies, but indicate which one.

Your paper and a copy of the full-text journal article must be emailed to both your Introductory Psychology professor and Dr. Levering (

Alternative assignments are due at 5 p.m. on the Friday of the last week of classes, no exceptions.

Information for Researchers

If you are faculty member in the Psychology Department or an advanced psychology student who is doing research for academic credit for an honors project, and you would like to access the participant pool, please read all of the following carefully.


We are using the Sona system to manage the participant pool. This is done entirely online. In this system, people who conduct research are either researchers (usually students) or principal investigators (PIs; faculty members). The way the system is set up, all studies need a PI and at least one researcher. Both researchers and PIs can create and edit studies and assign credit through Sona.

Access to the participant pool

Access to the participant pool is limited to Marist College Psychology Department faculty, honors students doing supervised senior projects, and students doing for-credit supervised research in psychology (PSYC485).

If you wish to access the Marist College Participant Pool, your work must first be approved by the Marist College Institutional Review Board (IRB). In your IRB application, you should indicate the information that prospective participants will see when they view your study on the Sona system. A template you can fill out to provide the relevant information to the IRB is here

Following IRB approval, researchers or PIs who wish to access the pool should contact Dr. Levering to request an account, at Note that full-time faculty already have accounts. All others: in your request email, you MUST include your first and last name and your Marist email address. When your account is approved, your Marist email address will be emailed with your login information, including a password. Update your information the first time you login to Sona (change your initial password and specify a different email address if there's one you use more often).

Adding a study

Once you are in the system, you may add your study by going to "Add New Study" in the bar at the top of the screen and following the instructions. We are currently only allowing standard (on-ground, in-person, one-part) studies. In order to be visible to participants, your study needs to be approved by the pool administrator and have open timeslots.

In order to have your study approved, please give a copy of your IRB approval letter to Dr. Levering (either in faculty mailbox or scanned and emailed to: Allow 48 hours for study approval.

Adding timeslots and specifying location information

Once your study is approved, it will be marked with a check in the menu under "My Studies." At this point you may add timeslots. When you add timeslots, you must specify the location of the study from the drop-down menu. In order to see which lab rooms are available during the times you desire, check the schedule ("View Schedule" link below the drop-down menu). If you are a student, keep in mind that the doors to the lab rooms are kept locked, so make sure you make arrangements in advance to access the rooms during the times you request.

Assigning credit

It is the researcher's responsibility to assign credit to participants within the 24 hours following participation.