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Research Participation in the Department of Psychology


General Policies and Procedures

These policies and procedures apply to the recruitment of research subjects through the Department of Psychology at Drexel University from among the student body via our electronic presences, our laboratories, or lecture halls. Research protocols that have not been fully approved by the Drexel Institutional Review Board (IRB) are not eligible for recruiting participants from Psychology Department courses. Approval to recruit does not convey any endorsement on the part of the Department of Psychology.


All research conducted in the Department of Psychology at Drexel University on campus or online, which involves our students, faculty, or staff, requires adherence to the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and the full approval of Drexel University's IRB.

Instructor Discretion

All aspects of recruitment from Psychology courses is at the discretion of the course instructors, which includes, but is not limited to, extra credit, record keeping, and scheduling. Instructors are free to decline involvement in any study.

Required Departmental Approvals

Recruitment from classes requires the documented approval of the course instructor. If the SONA system is used, then recruitment also requires the approval of the SONA coordinator in the Department of Psychology. Approvals are not automatic.

Awarding of Extra Credit

The course instructor may approve the awarding of extra credit for student participation in research. Department policies require this to be uniformly awarded across all participating courses in the Department as follows:

  1. Each half-hour of participation may earn 1 extra credit percentage point over the entire course.
  2. The maximum extra credit that may be earned is 4 percentage points in a course.
  3. Research that requires more than two hours of participation shall only offer the maximum of 4 extra credit percentage points.
  4. Research participation extended across terms may offer up to 4 extra credit points per term.
  5. If students have the opportunity to earn extra credit for participating in a research study, the course instructor must offer an alternative way of earning a comparable amount of extra credit that does not involve participation in research, or allow students to complete the alternative extra credit assignments provided on SONA systems.

Protocols may offer payment or other approved remuneration or other non-course related incentives in addition to extra credit. Credit for participation shall be recorded in full at the time a subject shows up. Documentation of the student's participation is noted through SONA Systems and is distributed to the course instructor via email no later than the final week of classes in that term. Extra credit cannot elevate a grade above 100%. Any disputes regarding the assignment of extra credit will be resolved using the University policies regarding the assignment of grades.


A Principal Investigator (PI) who is also a course instructor or Teaching Assistant (TA) cannot recruit research participants from a course s/he is teaching. Classroom recruitment usually consists of a presentation by the PI or a member of the research team, along with an approved handout that contains contact information, schedules, and research details. Neither the Psychology Department nor the course instructor are permitted to assume any responsibility for scheduling, directions, or any other form of subject contact.

Access by Extra-Departmental Researchers

The Department of Psychology provides research experiences for its students primarily as a pedagogical opportunity and not as a pool for general research. As such, research protocols that are primarily psychological in nature and that have psychology faculty/graduate students as PI are afforded preference. Investigators who are not members of the Department of Psychology must have a co-PI or consultant who is a member of the Psychology Department on the research project to be eligible to recruit from Psychology Department courses. And these individuals must also have an approved Drexel University IRB protocol and conform to other policies for recruitment stated within this document.

Adjudication and Appeals

Students who are not able to resolve disagreements regarding extra credit for research participation at the Instructor level may appeal to the Undergraduate Director, as is normally provided by usual academic procedures. If the Undergraduate Director withholds permission for an otherwise apparently complete protocol, an appeal may be made to the Department Head, or in the case of a conflict of interest, to the Director of the Doctoral Training Program. Under no circumstances is there an appeal to overturn the decision of an individual course instructor not to allow recruiting of participants from his or her Psychology course.

Courses Eligible

The Department of Psychology Subject Recruitment Policies and Procedures are to be included in documentation made available to all sections of PSY 101, 111, and 112. Psychology 101, 111, and 112 sections are automatically enrolled in SONA systems to allow students to participate in research, but individual instructors may choose whether to create their own alternative extra credit assignments in lieu of those offered on SONA systems.

Research Extra Credit Information Provided to Students

Text related to the Department of Psychology's Subject Recruitment Policies and Procedures should be included in the syllabus of any course providing extra credit to students for volunteering to participate in research. This text will be distributed to course instructors at the start of each term by the SONA systems coordinator for inclusion in the syllabus.

Approved by Psychology Department Faculty Meeting 3/13/9; Revised 9/21/98, 12/5/05, 8/09

Instructions for Participating in Research Studies

Note: Please follow all instructions to ensure you receive extra credit

  • Login - Go to On the bottom left hand corner of the screen click on “Request a new Account.” (If you already have an account, please just log-in with your username and password and skip to step 5. You will be asked to update your courses.)
  • Fill out the required information - To ensure that you receive extra credit, enter your Drexel email username when it asks for your user ID. For example, if your email address is, your user ID would be aaa11. When entering your email address, please enter your Drexel University email address. Also, be sure to choose the correct course and section number that you are enrolled in for the current term. If you are enrolled in more than one course that is offering extra credit through Sona Systems, press down the “Ctrl” button and click on all courses you are enrolled in. If you need to add a course after you have created an account, please do so after logging in (steps 3 & 4). Click on “My Profile” and at the bottom of the page, you can add or remove courses.
  • Retrieve your password - Check your Drexel email account and retrieve your password. Go back to the Sona Systems website listed in step 1 and login. (After logging in, you can change your password by going to “My Profile.”).
  • Read and review - After logging in, read through and review the IRB human subject policy for research. Note that a phone number is provided if you have any questions.
  • Click on “Study Sign-Up.” Click any of these studies to read more about them. Be sure to pay attention to eligibility requirements and any sign-up deadlines that might be listed.
  • Follow study-specific instructions - If you meet all eligibility requirements, follow those instructions. You may be asked to do one of the following things:
    • Participate in an online study directly through Sona Systems
    • Participate in an external online study in which the researcher will ask you to click on a web link that will send you to their survey outside of Sona Systems.
    • Sign up for a time to meet the researcher in person to complete the study. Choose a time slot that is convenient for you, and click Sign Up. A researcher will be waiting for you so if you cannot make your appointment, please be sure to cancel it or email the research coordinator of the study to reschedule if it’s too late to cancel on the system.
    • If these options are not available, call or email the researcher if you are interested in participating in their study.

    **Please note that if your instructor provides you with the option of receiving extra credit by signing up for studies, you must complete studies by the end of Week 10 to ensure that you will receive credit**

  • Receiving credit - Upon completion, the researcher of the study will record your extra credit points in the system. You can track your extra credit points by clicking on the “My Studies and Credits” link on the main page. There are a few instances in which you may not see credit until after the last week of classes. You should see all credits earned in Sona Systems by the first day of Finals Week. However, if you have any questions or concerns about receiving credit for any particular study, please contact the researcher directly.

    *Also please note that if you are enrolled in multiple courses, you can click on “My Schedule/Credits” and assign the extra credit points to a particular course. The same extra credit points earned cannot be assigned to multiple courses.*

  • Log out - When you are done using the system, choose "Log Out" from the toolbar on the left side to log out. You are now logged out. It is always a good security measure to close all your browser windows as well, especially if you are using a computer that is shared by others.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • There is an invitation code that is required to participate in a study. What is an invitation code? How do I get one?
    An invitation code is set up by the researcher so that only specific invited participants can access their survey. If you are interested in one of these studies based on the description and would like to see if you might be eligible to participate, please contact the researcher directly.
  • I forgot my password, what do I do?
    Go to On the bottom left corner of the screen click "Lost your password? Click here to retrieve it."
  • I am having trouble logging-in and figuring out how to use Sona Systems. Who should I contact?
    If you have any questions or concerns regarding Sona Systems, please do not hesitate to contact with your specific questions. Someone will contact you to further assist you. If your question is in regards to a specific study, please contact the researcher directly. Their contact information is listed under the study description.
  • It’s the end of the term and I still have not received extra credit points. I don’t think my extra credit points were added to my grade.
    Your final extra credit points should be available to you in Sona Systems by Monday of finals week. You can check your extra credit points by logging in and clicking on "My Schedule and Credits." If you still believe your extra credit points were not added on to your final course grade, please check to make sure that you are registered in Sona Systems under the correct course. To do so, login and click "My Profile" at the top. At the bottom of this page, you can view which courses you signed up for on Sona Systems. If you need to update these courses, please do so in this section by clicking on the "Change Course" link at the bottom. Be sure to hold "Ctrl" to sign up for multiple courses you might be enrolled in. Email to notify us of the changes you have made. We will do our best to ensure that you receive extra credit for the studies that you participated in.

Information on Sona Systems for Faculty & Graduate Students

The Sona Systems program allows faculty and graduate students to recruit participants and collect data. Through this system, undergraduates are able to sign up for research studies online and receive extra credit or fulfill course requirements. Participants can log in and read about departmental studies they might be eligible to participate in. They can fill out online surveys and schedule research appointments if necessary. Students can also view and track their extra credit points through this system. Upon a student’s completion of a study, experimenters log in and provide students with extra credit points. At the end of the term, instructors receive, for each course they teach, one centralized list of student names and the amount of extra credit points each has earned.

Psychology 101, 111, and 112 sections are automatically enrolled in Sona Systems. At least three extra credit assignments will be posted on the Sona website each term as alternatives to research participation, but individual instructors may choose whether to create their own alternative extra credit assignments in lieu of those offered on Sona Systems.

New instructors are sent an e-mail with a link to an online survey to indicate whether they would like their courses to be part of the system. If at any time, you would like to change your participation preferences, please contact Damaris Oquendo (

If your course is enrolled in the Sona Systems program, researchers may want to come to your class to tell your students about their study. Researchers will be instructed to contact you ahead of time to get your approval to do this and to determine what day/time would work best for you.

Text related to the Department of Psychology's Subject Recruitment Policies and Procedures should be included in the syllabus of any course providing extra credit to students for volunteering to participate in research. This text is distributed to course instructors at the start of each term by the Sona Systems coordinator for inclusion in the syllabus.

If students have study-specific questions, they should contact the researcher directly (the researcher’s contact information will be listed in their study description section on Sona Systems). If students have general Sona System questions, they should contact Damaris Oquendo (