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Frequently Asked Questions

Research for the 2014 Summer Session I begins on Monday, August 4, and goes until Thursday, September 11, at 5 pm.

On this page, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about
Sona (the Psychology Research Participation System) procedures and policies. Click on one of the topics below to move to that section:

Logging into Sona

How do I log into Sona?
By enrolling in a class that offers credit for experiments, you have automatically been added to the Sona system. To activate your account, go to
a. Your login is the last 6 digits of your student number
b. Your password is encrypted, and information about it cannot be included on the website.  If you have never logged into the Sona System before, go to the Sona login page and click on "Lost your password? Click here to retrieve!"  This is on the left side of the login page. Type in your user ID, and the system will send a message to your UC Davis email account with instructions on how to obtain your password.
I tried to 'log in' and but got an error.
You may not have been added to the system. Email the Subject Pool Coordinator, Sue Hobbs, at spcoordinator@ucdavis, and provide the following information: (a) your student ID number, (b) your first and last name, (c) your email address, and (d) the course/courses and section numbers that you will be completing research for. If you do not know your section number, you can include the  name of your professor. You will be manually entered into the system. Adds are usually processed within 24 to 48 hours. You will receive a confirmation email when you have been added to the system.

Login information carries forward from quarter to quarter. So, if you changed your password in a previous quarter, you need to use that password to log in.
I'm confused by how to use Sona Systems
There is a walk-through of how to use Sona Systems available here: Sona Walk-Through. It will help you figure out how to sign up for and cancel studies, track your credit progress, and reassign credits.

Changing or Removing Courses

I can log in, but why is my course not visible? 
If you added a course late, you might not have been automatically added to Sona's roster for all of your classes. There is an easy fix for this: Click on "My Profile" (which can be accessed via a link in between "My Schedule/Credits" and "FAQ", or by clicking on the eyeball icon of the main page.)  Here you''l find a screen that permits you to change your password, but if you scroll down further your Course(s) are also listed. By clicking the "Change Course" link, you can select all of the courses that you are enrolled in. Then just hit update. 

I need to remove a class from my Sona account.  How do I do that? 
Click on "My Profile" (which can be accessed via a link in between "My Schedule/Credits" and "FAQ", or by clicking on the eyeball icon of the main page.) Here you'll find a screen that permits you to change your password, but if you scroll down further your Course(s) are also listed. Click the "Change Course" link and select the course named "Withdrawal/Drop". Then just hit update. 
Do not assign credits you have already earned to "Withdrawal/Drop."

NOTE: You may still receive the occassional invitation to be in a study.
Completing the Prescreening
Why should I complete the prescreening?
The prescreening is an easy first credit. It is also a prerequisite for many of the other experiments posted on Sona.

When should I complete the prescreening?
The prescreening should be taken early in the quarter.  It is an online study and counts toward your online study limit. If you take other online studies first, you may be able to sign up for the prescreen.

How do I take the prescreening?
The prescreening is an experiment listed in the research participation system and you can find the URL for the prescreening there.  The Departmental Prescreening always begins with DSUR. 
To take to the prescreening survey, sign up for the study titled DSUR##. You can take the prescreening right away. When you sign up, click on "Complete Survey Now."  If you cannot do it right away, when you return to your list of studies later, click on "View Study Website" to complete the survey. Take a screenshot of the final page and keep it as proof that you completed the survey.
I answered the 10 or so questions when I first logged in. Why didn't I receive credit for the prescreen?
Those questions are a type of profile you set up to help researchers find people who are qualified to participate in their studies. The prescreening that is worth 1 credit is described in the previous question.

I completed the prescreening in a previous quarter, can I take it again?
Yes. The prescreening changes from quarter to quarter, so students are allowed to retake the prescreening. Experiments that require the prescreening often require that the most current prescreening be completed to be eligible for participation in that experiment.
When will I receive credit for the prescreening?
You will receive 1 credit for completing the prescreening, which will happen automatically once you complete the prescreen. If you have not received credit for the prescreening after completing it, contact the SP Coordinator, Sue Hobbs.
How long does it take to complete the prescreening?
Time to complete the prescreening varies across students, but it is supposed to take you approximately 1 hour. You can take it in several sessions, but you won't receive credit until you complete it fully.

When is the earliest and latest possible times for me to complete the prescreen?
The prescreen typically becomes active about 24 hours before the first day of instruction, and needs to be fully complete by the time listed on the timeslot.
An error occurred while I was taking the prescreening, what do I do?
Email the exact error message you received (along with your student ID) to the SP Coordinator, Sue Hobbs.

Signing up for experiments
How do I sign up for experiments?
Please see the Recruitment System Manual for detailed instructions.
Why are there no experiments available?
From time to time, all of the appointments for experiments fill up. Don't worry, keep checking back to Sona as experimenters are always posting new experiments and adding new appointments to existing experiments.

What if I am under 18?
You cannot participate in experiments if you are under 18; you will need to write papers to earn your credits. You can participate in experiments after you turn 18. Once you turn 18, email the Subject Pool Coordinator ( and ask her to reset your Sona prescreen responses. Then you will be able to reanswer the questions and indicate that you are 18.
When is the latest I can earn research credit?
The last day to earn research credit is the last day of instruction. During summer sessions, the last day is the day before the last day of instruction. (You CANNOT participate during finals week!!!). However, don't wait until the last minute: end-of-the-quarter sessions tend to fill up quickly. If you wait until the last minute, you may be faced with an unpleasant surprise when there are fewer experiments available or the sessions are all filled.
What if I forgot my appointment date or time or the location for my experiment?
Your appointments will be listed in the Research Participation System.  You can login to remind yourself of your appointments.
What if I am uncomfortable with an experiment?
Any experiment in which you participate will have already been approved by the Psychology Department Subject Pool Committee and the Campus Institutional Review Board Human Subjects Committee. This insures that someone other than the experimenter has determined that the procedures for a study follow strict ethical guidelines. A researcher’s first priority must always be the safety and well being of the research participants. This precludes any treatment that places undue physical or psychological stress on subjects as well as any form of unethical or unprofessional treatment. You have the right to withdraw from an experiment at any time. If you choose to exercise this right, you will still be given full credit.


Online Studies
What is my limit for online studies?
Only 35% of your course credits can come from online (web) studies. To calculate the number of credits you can do in online studies, simply multiply the total number of credits you can earn for the current quarter by 0.35.  Credits are offered in increments of .5; thus you should round down to the nearest half credit. For example, if your 35% comes out to 1.75, you can earn 1.5 credits in online studies.

I'm trying to sign up for an online study, but it won't let me. Why?
When you attempt to sign up for an online study, you may see this message: "Sign-up prohibited. With this sign-up, you would exceed the maximum number of Credits from Online Studies." This is because of the limit for online studies. For example, if you can earn 2 online study credits, and you have already signed up for or earned 1.5, then you can only sign up for .5 more.  The system will block you from signing up for more than you can earn. When you receive this message, it is only referring to online studies, andt means that your remaining credits must come from attending studies in person.

What should I do after I sign up for an online study?
Many online studies can be started right away. If this is the case, you should see a link that says "Complete Survey Now." If you cannot start it right away, when you return to your list of studies, click on "View Study Website."  Do not wait until the time listed on the timeslot. For online studies, this timeslot is actually the deadline for when the study must be completed.  If you wait until the deadline, you will not be able to participate. Some online studies require the researcher to send you a link. If this is the case, it should be clear to you when you sign up.

I tried to start an online study at the time listed on the timeslot, and the Sona system will not let me do it. Why?
This is because the timeslot for an online study is the deadline when the study must be completed.  See the previous question.

I completed an online study and did not receive immediate credit. What should I do?
Be patient. Some online studies are credited by the researcher. Wait at least 48 hours before contacting the researcher (NOT the subject pool coordinator) about a credit you feel you are missing. If you do not receive an answer from the researcher, then you can contact the coordinator.

Appointments: Cancellations, No-shows, Tardiness, etc.
How do I cancel an appointment?
Login to the system to see a list of experiments you are signed up for.  You should be able to cancel appointments listed in your account.   Note that you may only cancel appointments in Sona if it is 24 hours or more prior to the start time.
What should I do if I can't attend an appointment that starts in less than 24 hours?
If you have a good reason that you will miss the appointment, email the experimenter in charge of that experiment (NOT the SP Coordinator), explain why you will miss the appointment and ask him/her to cancel your appointment.  

What happens if I miss an experiment?
The first time, nothing. However, if you are a "no-show" (you miss your appointment or cancel less than 24 hours in advance) for 2 experiments you will no longer be allowed to participate in experiments.  Any research credits you still need to fulfill any course requirements will have to be earned by completing the paper option.

Note: Like everything else with the research requirement, this will not affect your actual letter grade, simply whether or not you receive an Incomplete on your transcript. You must meet the requirement in order to have your grade released, but failing to do so will not affect your actual grade.
But what if I missed an experiment because of some emergency?
An emergency is defined as some event BEYOND YOUR CONTROL that requires your immediate attention. If you miss an experiment because of an emergency please contact THE EXPERIMENTER (NOT the SP Coordinator) as soon as possible and advise him or her of the situation. You can find the experimenter’s contact information on the first page of sign up times for that experiment.  The experimenter may then choose not to report you as a "no-show."  The experimenter may also ask you to reschedule your appointment. Please be aware the experimenter may ask for some sort of documentation as evidence of your emergency.
What happens if I am late for an experiment?
Give yourself plenty of time to find the building and room of the experiment. If you show up late for an experiment, then you may not be able to participate and you will not receive credit. If you are  late for an experiment, then you will be considered a "no-show."  The consequences for accumulating 2 "no-shows" is explained above under "What happens if I miss an experiment?"
What if the experimenter cancels my appointment?
Experimenters may cancel appointments at any time. You will not receive any credit for experiments that are cancelled with more than a 24-hour lead time. Experimenters are, however, required to give you either 1/2 credit (for 1/2 credit studies) or 1 credit (all other studies) for any experiment they cancel if done less than 24 hours before the experiment is to start. An e-mail notification will be sent to you regarding any cancellation.
What if the experimenter is late?
Experimenters who are more than 15 minutes late are required to give you either 1/2 credit (for 1/2 credit studies) or 1 credit (all other studies). You are under no obligation to participate in the experiment, however if you do decide to participate, you will not get any additional credit beyond the original number of credits listed.
What if the experimenter doesn’t show?
Experimenters who fail to show up for an appointment are required to give you the full amount of credit for the experiment. Be sure to contact experimenters right away so that you can receive your credit. If you are unable to resolve the problem with the experimenter, then contact the SP Coordinator, Sue Hobbs.
Receiving credit
How much credit do I receive for participating?
The credit system corresponds with the hours of participation. That is, each 1/2 credit is approximately 1/2 hour of participation. Experiments which run 30 minutes or less are worth 1/2 credit; experiments that run more than 30 minutes but no more than one hour are worth 1 credit; experiments that run more than one hour but no more than 1.5 hours are worth 1.5 credits, and so on.
Do I have to use the Sona site to get research participation credit?
Yes, you must use this site if you want to earn credit by participating in experiments.
Can I use the same credit twice?
No. The credit you receive from one experiment may be put towards one class and one class only. The one exception is that the prescreening questionnaire can count for multiple classes. If you would like to use the prescreening questionnaire for multiple class, after you have completed the questionnaire, email the SP Coordinator with the classes you are taking that need to be credited.
How do I get credit for the studies I've completed?
After you participate in a study, the experimenter will record your credit electronically. Generally, credit will be given within two days. Please be patient; if an experimenter is running large sessions, it may take some time to record everyone's credit. However, if a week or more has passed and your credit is not reflected in your profile, you may contact the experimenter (NOT the Subject Pool Coordinator) to confirm that your participation will be credited.
Why hasn't my credit posted to my account yet?
It can take up to 48 hours to receive credit for participating in an experiment. Please be patient.
Do I need to do anything special for internet studies?
For internet studies, you should print out either the confirmation page at the end of the survey, or the last page of the survey and keep them until you verify that you have received credit. If you don't receive credit within 48 hours, then you should contact the experimenter.
What if I notice my credits are incorrect?
If your credits are incorrect please contact the experimenter and try to correct the problem. If you are unable to resolve the problem with the experimenter, then contact the SP Coordinator, Sue Hobbs immediately.
How will my professor know if I’ve completed my research requirement?
At the end of the quarter, your assigned credit balance will be submitted to your professor.Make sure that you choose the correct class when on the Sona site and assign your credits to that class, as this is how your professor will get your credits at the end of the quarter. If you are in a class with multiple sections (e.g., PSC 1, PSC 41), be VERY CAREFUL to choose your correct section.

Assigning or Reassigning Credit

My credit isn't counting towards my class, what do I do?
Certain credits may need to be specifically assigned to your course by you, since their default assignment is "None." To reassign the credit, go to the "My schedule/credits" heading and click the "reassign" link below the prescreening credit  to choose your course.

I accidentally assigned my credit to Course "X" but want it assigned to Course "Z" instead, what do I do?
To reassign the credit, go to the "My schedule/credits" heading and click the "reassign" link  in the "course" column to choose your course.

For clarification as to how to reassign credits, please see the Sona Walk-Through

Can I reassign credits from previous quarters?
No. You cannot.  The reassign button can only be used for credits you have earned during the current quarter. Credits from previous quarters are archived and cannot be used again.
Paper option
Is there an alternative to participating in experiments?
Yes, you can write a review of a pre-approved research article written by one of the UCD Psychology faculty members. A detailed description of the paper option can be found here.
How much credit do I receive for writing a paper?
You will receive two units of research participation for each satisfactory paper that you turn in. Papers that do not meet the requirements listed on the paper option page WILL NOT receive credit. No partial credit will be given if you do not revise your paper. 
Where do I turn in my paper?
Email your paper to the SP Coordinator, Sue Hobbs at, as a .doc or .pdf file (not other formats will be accepted).
What is the last day to turn in a paper?
The deadline for papers is noted at the top of this page. Please be aware that turning it in on this day does not leave time for necessary revisions. If your paper is not satisfactory, it will not be counted.
Not Completing the PSC 1 and 41 requirement
What happens if I do not complete the research requirement (PSC 1 and PSC 41 only)?
If you do not complete the research requirement by the last day of instruction, you will receive an incomplete (I) in the class.
What is the procedure for making up the requirement?
You must wait until the next quarter begins to make up your requirement.
1. Log in to Sona to activate your account.
2. Select "incomplete" as your course.
3. Finish the required credits.
4. Email the SP Coordinator ( that you have completed the requirement. This is IMPORTANT. If you do not do this, your “I” will not be changed to your letter grade.
5. The SP Coordinator will determine whether you completed the requirement, and if so, she will put through the paperwork to have your “I” changed to your letter grade. This can take a few weeks. Please wait patiently- this process can take several weeks to be fully resolved as the Registrar's Office often has many grade changes to make. 
I've completed part of the requirement, do I have to start over?
No. You do not need to complete the whole requirement again, just the number of units that you are missing. For example, if the requirement is 6 units, and you have completed 3, you just need to complete an additional 3 to fulfill the requirement. 

Note: Your credits have moved from the credit status column to the comments columnn on your "My Schedule/Credits" page. Read the page this way: the study is listed in the study column, the date credits were applied is listed in the credit status column, and the number of credits and the course you applied them to are listed in the comments column.

If you are having trouble figuring out how to see your previous credits, email the SP Coordinator ( and she will help you.  

How long do I have to fulfill the requirement before my I turns to an F?
As per university policy, you must fulfill the requirement within three registered quarters at UCD. Failure to do this will result in an F in the class after three quarters.

Where can I find more information about clearing my Incomplete?
Please see this website for more information.

What if I am Repeating PSC 1 or 41

If you are currently repeating PSC 1 or 41, and you earned research credits when you took the class the first time, then you do not need to repeat the credits. In order to fulfill the requirement for the current session you must:

Email Sue Hobbs 
at , tell her that you are repeating the class and how many credits you have previously completed. She will ensure that you receive credit for those hours in the current quarter. Be sure to include your full name, student ID number,  and the quarter you originally took the course in your email.
NOTE: You CANNOT use your credits from PSC 1 to fulfill your requirement for PSC 41 (or vice versa). You can only use credits for the same course if you are retaking it. 

My question is not answered here. What should I do?
A large number of questions sent to the subject pool coordinator can be answered in the FAQ above.  Please read them carefully. If you question is not answered, please email the subject pool coordinator, Sue Hobbs, at  Always include your student ID in emails to the spcoordinator.