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Participant Pool For University Of Utah, Dept Of Psychology

General Info and Reminders:

  • Age Restriction: The Participation Pool has IRB approval to recruit individuals who are 18 years-old or older. If you are under 18, please contact your instructor about alternative credit options.

Experimenter Procedures 

Welcome to the SONA system. If you are new to the system you need to watch the SONA Researcher Instructions video. This entails all the details as to how, as an experimenter, you can manage your experiments.

Quick Start Guide

  1. If you do not yet have a researcher account on SONA, contact the webmaster to request one:
  2. Look over the study descriptions for a few other experiments, and then build your own study in SONA modelling it off of examples from similar studies.
  3. Complete the Experiment Application. Please be sure to update your study description on SONA with the required information on the Participant Withdrawal Procedures/Docking Policy and the Alternative Credit Option.
  4. Email the participation pool committee with 1) the completed Experiment Application, and 2) a .pdf or .jpg/.png screenshot of the email you received from the IRB indicating that your study was either approved or that it is exempt from further review.  Be sure it includes that IRB number and the approval expiration date, if applicable.

Table of Contents

Links in this Document

Sona Video Tutorial for Researchers
Experiment Application

Before you Begin

You will need an experimenter account. There are two types of experimenter accounts

  • Principal Investigators (PI) – Oversees studies but defaults to not managing the day to day activities of the study. Only faculty will be given a PI account.
  • Researchers – Manage the day to day activities of the study. All graduate students will be given a researcher account. Faculty can also have a researcher account upon request. Any other account requests (Eg: Research Assistants) will need authorization of a faculty member or department Graduate Student.

PI's and researchers have very similar capabilities. For our purposes, the researchers are the direct contact points for participants. PIs are those who oversee the study. A given experiment must have one PI and one or more researchers. If you do not already have an appropriate account, send a request to including Name for the Account and the Individual's E-mail. It is possible for the same person to have both a PI and researcher account. To distinguish these, “pi” and “r” will be added to the end of the username.

The first time you log in to Sona

Once you have an account, you should receive an email with the login and password. Click on ‘update my profile’ and be sure to add your contact information. This information it attached to the study so that participants can reach you for some reason. Our pool requires that this contact information is readily available to participants.

Creating a New Study

At any time within Sona, clicking on ‘Add a new study’ begins the procedure for posting an experiment. The Researcher Instructions explain in detail all the options available. You will be able to completely set-up your study, but you will be unable to post any sessions until you have approval from the Human Participation Committee. Once your study is ready for approval, click on ‘change study information’ and under study status you will find a link for ‘[Send a Request].’ This sends an email to us that your study is ready for approval. You will receive an email response when your study is approved.

We must verify some of the information you entered in compliance with our agreement with the IRB. In a separate email, please submit the following to

  • The cover letter from the IRB with the IRB number, experiment name and expiration date. Most easily, this is the most recent "Correspondence Letter" indicating the approval of the study and IRB #, found in ERICA (in the links under the "Documents" tab).
  • A completed Experiment Application.

Crediting and Docking Participants

Certain study designs enable auto-crediting participants. If you have not enabled this for your study, it is your responsibility to provide participants credit within 48 hours of completing the study. Seventy-two hours after a session date the Sona system will automatically credit the participants. Please try to complete this information in a timely manner.

Students may cancel an appointment for a study up to two hours in advance without penalty. If students do not cancel in time and are a no-show, they may be docked credit. Individual labs may set their own policies regarding whether to dock credit for late-cancellations and no-shows, but please exercise good judgment in determining whether to deduct credits from students. In addition, there is a one-hour cap on the amount credit that can be docked for any single instance.


Researchers must provide students with at least two hours notice of the cancellation of a study. If researchers cancel and fail to provide notification at least two hours in advance, they should provide students who show up with the amount of credit associated with the study up to one hour. Note that the burden of notification is on the researcher and that merely canceling within the system may not be enough. Researchers should consider calling students or sending an additional email to notify and possibly reschedule.

Contact information

When a participant examines a study in Sona, the researcher's contact information is the only non-Sona based info provided for how a participant can reach a study (PI contact info is only visible if they click on the PI link). So, it is imperative that all researchers complete their full contact info (Phone, Office, and email). This info should probably be the lab info for the study.

Alternative Participation Options

To utilize the participant pool all studies must offer an alternative procedure for receiving credit. An example would be reading and commenting on an article related to the study. This alternative procedure must provide an educational benefit to participants while also maintaining equivalency for worktime to credit they will receive. If a participant contacts you during a semester you have an active study and requests the alternative credit procedure, you must comply with this request. Additionally, the alternative credit procedure must be described in the study description.

Final Note

If you have questions about accessing SONA or your account, please contact and include Subject Pool in the subject line of the email. If you have questions about departmental policies regarding the Participation Pool, or more specific SONA features, please email the Participation Pool committee:

Instructor Procedures

Obtaining an Instructor Account in SONA:  You will need an instructor account in order to register your course in the pool, so that students can associate the hours they earn with your course. This account will also enable you to view and download your student credit info at any point during the semester, and at grading time. If you need an instructor account, please email the webmaster to request one

Registering your course in the pool: If you plan to use the pool for granting course credit during the upcoming semester, please email Wendy Reeve, at,  with the following info: The course name and section number, enrollment, whether the hours are required or optional, and how many hours you are offering/requiring. If you would like to add your course after the pool has already opened for the semester, please cc a member of the Participation Pool Committee on your email:

Final Date for Course Credit:  Be sure to also let your students know the last day of the semester that you will accept research participation for course credit. It is recommended to choose a date that is at least one week prior to the actual closure of the pool, which will enable greater flexibility in your timeframe for completing grades and also help avoid last-minute difficulties regarding participation credit. The Participation Pool is currently closed. Check back in early September for more info.

Last Updated: 1/24/23