Researcher Conduct

Please read and follow these procedures and guidelines when conducting research with the Psychology Department Subject Pool.

Scheduling Sessions
  • Approved studies will be activated by the system administrator. Once activated, researchers may start scheduling sessions through the research website.
  • The number of sessions that can be scheduled is set by the administrator in accordance with the approved sample size and the duration of the study.
  • When using the 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 room usage to no more than 2 or 3 hours per day so that other researchers can run sessions as well.

Recruiting Participants

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 researchers want to take a more active role.

Here is what researchers 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 their 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.
  • Researchers may also contact the research website administrator to request an announcement regarding open timeslots

Here is what researchers CANNOT do:

  • Researchers are NOT permitted to pass around a signup sheet in class—signups must be managed through the Research Website.
  • Researchers 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).
  • Researchers are NOT permitted to hang signs around the building advertising your study.
  • Researchers 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, researchers 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.

These practices are considered unprofessional, and in some circumstances unethical. Researchers caught poaching or aggressively corralling 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 (, and/or deactivation of the project from the website.

Conducting Your Research With Professionalism

Once a study is approved, researchers are generally on their own to carry it out (unless of course there are questions).

Researchers are expected to:

  • Conduct their studies with a high degree of professionalism and respect for the participants and fellow researchers;
  • Carry out their procedures exactly as stated in their approved application. Changes to research procedures or materials must be approved by the  Human Subjects Committee first (send a description of any changes and copies of new materials to psychresearch@csus.eduand await notice of your approval);
  • 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 the Human Subjects Application
        • Collect these Consent Forms before the start of the research session so that they are not linked to any other materials. Researchers 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 Sona 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 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 or cancel. You are not obligated to attend a session that nobody has signed up for.
      • If a researcher must miss a study that has signups they 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 if any questions or issues arise.

Promptly Assigning Credit to Participants
  • Most research participants are participating to satisfy a course requirement, or to earn extra credit. Researchers have an important responsibility to assign credit promptly (within a day or two, maximum).They must also diligently report "no shows" so that website records are accurate.
  • Researchers assign credit using the participants’ Sona ID codes assigned to them in the research website. Participants should bring the code with them to the session. Names and student IDs are not used in this exchange in order to help protect participant privacy. 
  • 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 the researcher as quickly as possible to try and reschedule. An “unexcused” no-show is one where the student simply failed to show up without contacting the researcher, or contacted them 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 if you need help making a decision on this matter. If a participant receives too many unexcused absences, his or her subject pool access will be revoked.

Deactivating Your Project in the Psychology Research Website

We ask that when a researcher is finished using the website for the semester, they deactivate their 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”