Department of Psychology Research Subject Pool
This page is intended to provide researchers with the information they need to successfully navigate the Human Subjects review process, and the subject pool scheduling process. In a nutshell, researchers must:
- Obtain, and complete, an application for their project’s review by the Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee
- Register their studies online in the Psychology research Website (https://csus.sona-systems.com) and turn in their completed applications
- Await approval and activation in the Psychology Research Website then schedule and run sessions
- Assign credits to participants promptly after each session
- Deactivate their project in the Research Website when no more sessions will be run.
A detailed user’s manual for the Psychology Research Website with information for researchers can be found in the file SonaSystem(CSUS)_ResearcherManual_v2.76.pdf.
Below, you will find highlights and links to some “Quick-Start” guides that will help you to learn the overall process and get up and running. This information is organized under the following topic headings:
- Applying for Review by the Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee
- Registering Your Study in the Psychology Research Website
- Scheduling Sessions
- Recruiting Participants
- Conducting your Research with Professionalism
- Assigning Credit to Participants
- Deactivating Your Project in the Psychology Research Website
- Continuing a Project that was Approved Last Semester
Applying for Review by the Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee
All research at CSUS must have CSUS Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. For faculty research, the CSUS Human Subjects Committee reviews all applications. The Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee follows the same IRB policies to review research projects designed and directed by Psychology students in conjunction with their research courses and degree requirements.
If you are a current Psychology student registered in a research course or working on independent research under the mentorship of a faculty member in our Department, you may apply to the Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee using the following application form (provided here in both Word and PDF format):
Registering Your Study in the Psychology Research Website
When your application is ready to turn in, you must first register your project in the Psychology Research Website (https://csus.sona-systems.com). We ask you to do this because we review your study information page in the website as part of our evaluation process. This is important because your study title and description is the first information a potential participant will see about your study, so this information needs approval.
If you are not in the website yet as a researcher, email your first name, last name, and saclink ID (your username, but not your password!) to firstname.lastname@example.org and wait for an email with instructions for logging in. You may need to allow a day or two for a response, so plan ahead. Once you are added to the system, see the following Quick-Start Guides for getting oriented to the website and logging your study:
- Quick-Start: Overview of Features
- Quick-Start: Managing Your Profile
- Quick-Start: Adding a New Study
When your study is logged in the system, print the Study Information page to turn in with your application packet, as requested in the packet instructions.
If your study is approved it will be activated by the system administrator. You will then be ready to start scheduling sessions in the research website and taking appointments from participants through the website.
The number of sessions you can schedule will be set by the administrator in accordance with your requested sample size and the duration of the study. If you are using our shared research rooms (AMD 302, 303, 304, 306), please be courteous to other researchers and do not block out excessive sessions per day for one study. During busy times (especially the second half of the semester) please limit your usage to no more than 2 or 3 hours per day so that other researchers can run sessions as well.
See the following Quick-Start Guides to help you navigate the process of setting up your research sessions:
- Quick-Start: Managing Your Studies
- Quick-Start: Adding Single Timeslots
- Quick-Start: Adding Multiple Timeslots
Generally, participants will simply sign up through the research website with no active recruiting on your part. We have constraints on what we consider to be “appropriate” types of recruitment if you want to take a more active role.
Here is what you CAN do:
- With prior approval of the instructor(s), make an appearance at one or more of the daytime sessions (starting before 5pm) of PSYC 2, 4, or 8 to describe your project, announce its availability on the Psychology Research Website, perhaps tell them when your sessions will be, and ask them to sign up through the website.
Here is what you CANNOT do:
- You are NOT permitted to pass around a signup sheet in class—signups must be managed through the Research Website.
- You are NOT permitted to hand out surveys or otherwise conduct your study in the classroom during class time, if it is being carried out either for subject pool credit or extra credit toward one’s grade in the class. Any participation-for-credit research needs to be managed through the Research Website along with all other studies.
- Any surveys, etc. administered during class time must be done voluntarily with no research credit given, and this should be made CLEAR on the consent form. In addition, it should be stated clearly that participants who do not wish to participate in the study may either leave or simply turn in a blank questionnaire (so their refusal does not have to be made public).
- You are NOT permitted to hang signs around the building advertising your study.
- You are NOT permitted to “poach” participants in the hallway looking for someone else’s study they signed up for. If you steal them away from another study they will get a no-show in the other study, and the other researcher will lose a participant. Please be courteous to the participant and your fellow researchers.
- Likewise, you are NOT permitted to aggressively corral participants into your study before or after they participate in other research, or wait outside of other researchers studies to “sell” your project next.
- We consider these practices unprofessional, and in some circumstances unethical. Researchers who are caught poaching participants should be reported to their class instructor or faculty advisor, or to a member of the Human Subjects Committee. Engaging in unethical practices is a violation of the Student Conduct Code punishable by course failure (http://www.csus.edu/umanual/student/UMS16150.HTM), and/or deactivation of the project from the website.
Conducting your Research with Professionalism
Once your study is approved, you are generally on your own to carry it out (unless of course you have questions). We rely heavily on you to conduct yourself with a high degree of professionalism and respect for the participants and your fellow researchers, and to carry out your procedures exactly as stated in your approved application. If you would like to make any changes to your research procedure or materials, you need to have them approved by the Human Subjects Committee first (send a description of any changes and copies of new materials to email@example.com and await notice of your approval).
Please follow these guidelines:
- Practice Common Courtesy and Respect for Others: Researchers should observe common courtesy at all times. For example, researchers should show up to sessions on time, not stay past their allotted time, and in all other ways practice appropriate etiquette. In short, please behave professionally.
- Obtain Informed Consent: Prior to each student’s participation, have him/her sign a copy of the Consent Form that was approved with your Human Subjects Application.
- Collect these Consent Forms before the start of your research session so that they are not linked to any other materials.
- When your project is completed, you should keep the signed consent forms for one year before destroying them.
- Keep Accurate Participant Attendance Logs: For subjects who are Psychology students, be sure and have them provide their 4-digit ID code. It is best to keep a sign-in sheet throughout the duration of the semester in order to help resolve any future credit claims that may arise.
- Attend Your Sessions when Participants are Signed Up: Be sure and attend all sessions that have participants signed up in advance.
- After 6pm the evening before your session, participants will no longer be able to sign up. You are not obligated to attend a session that nobody has signed up for.
- If you have signups and you miss the session, you should assign credit to those who e-mail you the same or next day indicating that they showed up and you were not there. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if any questions or issues arise.
Assigning Credit to Participants
Most of your participants will be doing research to satisfy a course requirement, or to earn extra credit. You have an important responsibility to assign their credit promptly (within a day or two, maximum). It is also important that you assign no-shows diligently so that records in the website are accurate.
You will assign credit using the participants’ 4-digit ID codes from the research website. They should bring the code with them to the session and you should assign credit using that code. We do not use names in this exchange in order to help protect their privacy.
When assigning credit, note that an “excused” no-show is one where the participant was too late to cancel but had a legitimate emergency, and made an honest attempt to contact you as quickly as possible to try and reschedule. An “unexcused” no-show is one where the student simply failed to show up without contacting you, or contacted you at some future time without a legitimate emergency to explain their absence. There is a gray area and some judgment will need to be exercised—you can contact email@example.com if you need help making a decision on this matter. If a participant receives too many unexcused absences, his or her subject pool access may be revoked.
Deactivating Your Project in the Psychology Research Website
We ask that when you are finished using the website for the semester, you deactivate your study. To do this:
- Log into the Research Website
- Click on “My Studies”
- Select the study you want deactivate
- Click on “Change Study Information”
- Scroll down to the “Active Study?” field and change the radio button to “No”
- Click on “Save Changes”
Continuing a Project that was Approved Last Semester
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