Research Participation Requirement

Students enrolled in PSYC 2, 4, and 8 at Sacramento State are required to participate as research subjects in the Department's subject pool. This provides them with a better understanding of research methods and procedures. In addition, it helps graduate student and faculty researchers with their study of psychological questions.

  • Students in PSYC 2 and 8 are required to complete 3 hours for each class.
  • Students in PSYC 4 are required to complete 2 hours.

Students in courses that begins at 5pm or later are exempt from this requirement.

If you are taking more than one of these courses in the same semester you must complete the required number of hours for each class, up to six hours max. If this occurs, inform your instructor and contact regarding adjustments to your hours in the research website, so you are not held to more than six hours.

Alternative Assignment

Students not wishing to participate in research have the option of completing an alternative research assignment. This assignment is intended to demonstrate your learning about research methods, even if only second-hand, by reviewing reports of research studies that have recently been completed and published in Psychology research journals. 

 Download the Spring 2019 Alternative Research Assignment: Fall 2019 Alternative Research Assignment

The Spring 2019 Alternative Research Assignment is due on May 6, 2019 to Dr. Lisa Harrison at .

Participation Procedures

Quick Start Videos

    (1)     Quick-Start: Self-Registration

    (2)     Quick-Start: Overview of Features

To complete the required hours, participants must:

  1. Register at Sona and sign up for study participation.

  2. Show up for the their appointments with their 4-digit participant ID number handy, and complete the studies

  3. Monitor their credit earnings online and make sure they satisfy their requirements by the last day of the semester (no studies are available during finals week).

A note about online studies:

Students may only earn 1.5 credit hours through participating in online experiments.


What happens if I don’t complete my required hours?

If you don’t complete your required hours (or don’t allocate enough hours to a particular class if you have multiple classes in the system) you will receive an “Incomplete” grade in the class. Incomplete grades are only given to those students who are otherwise passing the course.

How do I complete an "Incomplete" grade due to missing research hours?

Students have one year to complete their required research hours. It is best to complete the hours in the following semester. After 1 year, an Incomplete automatically converts to an “F”.

Follow these procedures to change your incomplete:

  • Participate in the research system as before. If you do not have an account, or don't remember, contact for assistance.
  • Assign all completed hours as "Students Making Up Incompletes"
  • Once you complete your hours, contact the Research Website Administrator at Provide your student id number, course name, course instructor and the semester in which you took the course. 
  • The Research Website Administrator will verify your hours and contact the instructor to complete a grade change form.

There is no automatic notification system to the instructors, so the incomplete will NOT be overturned automatically.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most frequently asked questions by students. We hope these will help students to successfully complete their research participation requirements.

What are the studies like, and what should I expect when I show up?

Many studies are made up of paper-and-pencil (or occasionally on-line) surveys that you are asked to complete. Others involve more active procedures where you are asked to perform a task of some sort and perhaps complete some questionnaires as well. Regardless of the type of study, you should expect the following. This list is motivated both by your ethical rights as a participant and our goal of your research experience having educational value to you:

  • Courteous, professional researchers.
  • A sign-in sheet to document your attendance (so you get credit).
  • An informed consent process before the study, giving you basic information about the study and allowing you to opt-in or opt-out without penalty (other than forfeiting the credit you would have received).
  • The option to refuse answering any questions you are not comfortable with, or discontinue your participation without penalty (although depending on timing, you may not receive full research credit).
  • A debriefing session afterwards to explain the study to you, so that you can learn from your experience.
  • Contact information for the researchers in case you have further questions or want to learn about the results of the study when it is completed.
  • Prompt (within 2 or 3 days max) assignment of research credits in the Psychology Research Website so you can keep an accurate assessment of your progress.

What should I do to prepare before participating in a study that I signed up for?

  • Know your 4-digit participant ID number assigned to you by the Research Website. You must provide this to the researcher to receive credit for your participation.
  • Show up on time, take the experience seriously, and put forth your best effort.
  • Keep in mind that researchers put a LOT of time, effort, and planning into preparing their research studies and they have a genuine interest in obtaining high-quality and meaningful results. Please be helpful and courteous to your researcher.

Can I participate in a study that I did not sign up for in advance?

  • While it is strongly preferred that you sign up in advance, the researchers do have a mechanism for assigning credit to drop-ins, at their discretion. They, however, are under no obligation to accept drop-ins or to show up to a session that nobody had signed up for by 6pm the prior evening.

How many credit hours can I earn through participation in online experiments?

  • 1.5 hours may be earned through participation in online experiments.

I signed up for a study but something came up and I can’t attend—what do I do?

  • All appointments must be canceled by 6pm the evening before the study.
  • After 6pm, you will be unable to cancel. Contact the researcher with as much prior notice as possible, so that they can plan accordingly for your absence.
  • If you do not cancel, and do not contact the researcher, you will be assigned as a “no-show”. 

Please note that after two unexcused no-shows your subject pool privileges will be revoked.

I signed up for a study but I am running late for my appointment—what do I do?

Show up and talk to the researcher, possibly to reschedule for a later day or time. PLEASE do not disrupt the research session. If the door is closed, leave it closed until the session is completed. Many studies have strict procedures and interruptions throw the session off. If the researcher is in the hallway or doorway then he or she may be willing to quietly discuss the situation, but be prepared to wait until the end of the session to avoid disruption.

What happens if I miss an appointment that I had signed up for, and did not cancel or contact the researcher ahead of time?

  • You most likely have been marked as a “no-show” on the project and given an unexcused absence. If your absence was due to an emergency and you contact the researcher quick enough, you may be able to have it designated as an “excused” absence.
  • Please note that if you have two or more (unexcused) no-shows your subject pool privileges will be revoked.

I missed several appointments that I made, and now the system won’t let me sign up for more studies.  What can I do?

If you have multiple no-shows, your subject pool privileges will be revoked, meaning you will not be able to participate in any more research during that semester. Students with needing to complete additional hours may complete the research alternative to satisfy their requirements. If you are unable to complete the research alternative you must take an "Incomplete" grade and finish your hours in the following semester. If you feel that you have a compelling reason to have your subject pool privileges reinstated, explain yourself clearly in writing and submit your request to for consideration. Be prepared to submit documentation of any emergencies or situations outside of your control that led to your excessive no-shows.  Allow approximately one week for a response.

Please note: Students completing research hours for extra credit are not allowed to complete the Alternative Research Assignment if they lose their research privileges.

The researcher did not show up.  What do I do?

Although it is  very rare that you will experience a missing researcher, it can happen. Over the years we have found the following situations have commonly led to a “missing researcher” complaint:

  • There was an emergency outside of the researcher’s control (e.g., car accident on the way to campus).
  • The researcher was delayed and running a few minutes late, but one or more participants had already left.
  • The participant accidentally went to the wrong room, but the researcher was, in fact, present in the scheduled room.
  • The researcher checked the website and did not have anyone signed up in advance, and therefore did not show for the empty session—this only comes up when a participant hopes to drop-in, or accidentally shows up at the wrong time.

If you were signed up in advance for a session, and you did not cancel through the website, and you showed up for the study but found the researcher to be absent (not late, but absent), then you are entitled to receive credit. Contact the researcher to recieve this credit. If the issue is unresolved contact for further assistance. Credit will NOT be granted automatically to participants who do not contact the researcher within a reasonable amount of time (usually the same or next day). We will assume that those who do not contact the researcher were also no-shows, and they have already benefitted by avoiding a “no-show” mark in the Research Website.

How can I prove that I attended a session when I haven’t been given credit online?

Please allow researchers 2 to 3 days to get their records into the research website. If you feel your credit has been overlooked, contact the researchers to try and resolve the issue. If you cannot resolve the issue with the researcher and feel you deserve credit, contact for further guidance.

You may carry an Evidence of Research Attendance Form with you to your studies. While the form is not your official record of credits, it may help in the event of a discrepancy to try and research and resolve the issue.