Frequently Asked Questions for Conducting Research
Using the Psychology Paid Research System
Faculty, post-doc researchers, and graduate students currently enrolled in the Psychology Department are eligible to use the Psychology Department’s Paid Research System.
The IRB is the Institutional Review Board. It is run by the University and all research must initially be approved by the IRB. Forms for IRB review are available at their website. IRB review may take several weeks, so be sure to plan ahead. The HSC is the Human Subjects Committee. It is run by the Department of Psychology. If your IRB-approved study will use only paid participants, it does not need to be reviewed by the HSC too.
When studies are first set up in the Psychology Paid Research System, they are allocated 1000 hours. If you reach that limit, contact the Subject Pool Coordinator, who will add more hours to your study. (The system requires us to put something there, even though there’s no limit on the number of paid participants you can run.) You don’t need to turn in any form with this request.
Participants can sign up by going to the link on the department website for the Psychology Paid Research System. Both the Course Credit and Paid Research System studies use the online Sona software, but the systems are kept completely separate and there are separate links and instructions for the two different subject pools.
The pretest (or prescreen) is a series of questions that all participants are required to answer when they set up their Paid Research System account. It must be done separately for the Course Credit and Paid Research Systems, even though both ask the same questions (at this point). It includes a variety of basic informational questions that researchers can use to screen out certain populations, or to recruit a very specific population of participants. To set up requirements using the pretest, from your study’s main page, click on View/Modify Restrictions in the center of the screen. An age restriction has automatically been included in your study’s prescreen restrictions. This is so that underage participants do not participate. Do not remove this restriction. Select any other questions you want to use for prescreening. Click Set Restrictions. Select the response options that you want to be eligible for participation in your study. Click Save Changes.
For both the Course Credit and Paid Research Systems for most of the semester, participants can sign up for a study or cancel an appointment online as long as it is at least 24 hours before the session. During the last week or two of the semester, this deadline is shortened to 1 hour for the Course Credit system, but not for the Paid system.
If you want to add more subject hours to a study that has already been activated, send an email to the Subject Pool Coordinator, who will add hours to your study. No additional forms need to be filled out to accomplish this.
To request a new study, fill out the Paid Research System Study Request form (available on the department website) and attach the most recent IRB approval letter. Shortly after it is received, a new study will be created in the system, and you will be able to run your study. You will receive an email when your request has been processed. If you’re requesting a study number in the Paid system for a study that already exists in the Course Credit system, you need to turn in a separate Paid Research System Study Request form and include the study number of the corresponding study in the Course Credit system on the form. (See the “Instructions for Researchers Using the Psychology Paid Research System” for more information.)
To create timeslots for your study, from your study’s main page, click View/Administer Time Slots and then click Add a Timeslot. Fill out the timeslot information: the date, time with AM/PM, number of participants in the session, and the location. Include both the building (Psychology or Beckman Institute) and room number. Click Add this timeslot. Repeat this process for every session.
From your study’s main page, click Change Study Information, near the bottom of the screen. This allows you to modify settings including researcher access. In the center of the screen, you will see a Researchers box. While holding down the control key on the keyboard, select the additional researcher names that you want to have access to your study. Click Save Changes when you are finished. If the researcher’s name is not there, then they do not currently have a researcher account set up in the Paid Research System. Email the Subject Pool Coordinator and ask for a researcher account to be created for this person for the Paid Research System. Then follow the steps above to allow them to access your study.
The Course Credit and Paid Research Systems do not use the passwords that you use for other university services, but instead use passwords that are specific to them. If you already have an account in the Paid system but cannot remember your password, click Lost Password. You will be able to retrieve your password by following the steps outlined there. If you still can’t access your account, it may that your account hasn’t been re-activated for the semester yet. Email the Subject Pool Coordinator to request re-activation of your account.
Email the Subject Pool Coordinator and a researcher account will be created for you. Typically, this is done automatically when a study is created in the system, so you shouldn’t need to request it separately.
If you want to add another short study during a session that is already in the Paid system and the second study is under a different IRB protocol, then it needs to be on file with the Subject Pool Coordinator before you run it. Fill out the Paid Research System Study Request form, indicating that you will be using multiple IRB protocol numbers under one study number.
There are two ways to do this. (1) From your study’s home page, click Contact Participants. Select the type of participant you wish to contact, enter the message you wish to send them, and click send message. (2) From your study’s home page, click View/Administer Time Slots. Select the session, and click modify. At the bottom of the screen (below the Update Sign-Ups button), click the link Contact All Participants. This allows you to email all participants who are currently signed up for that particular time slot. Enter the message you wish to send them, and click Send Message.
Researchers are not able to directly email all participants who qualify for their particular study. However, if you are recruiting from a particularly limited sub-population and are having trouble getting participants to sign up for your study, you may ask the Subject Pool Coordinator to contact all of the eligible participants. Send the Subject Pool Coordinator an email explaining the situation, and include the Paid Research System study number and the text of the message you would like to send to the eligible participants.
If you want to recruit two different sub-populations simultaneously for the same study, you can ask for an additional Paid Research System study number to be created (see Instructions for Researchers Using the Psychology Paid Research System). Set each study to have one of the restrictions, which will allow you to separately recruit both sub-populations at the same time.
A No-Show includes any situation in which the participant does not complete the study. A No-Show is not necessarily a penalty. Any of the following situations can be classified as a No-Show: a missed session, a late arrival to a study, an incomplete online study, a session canceled less than 24 hours in advance, or a participant choosing to or being asked to leave. The only way to know what kind of No-Show a situation is (and whether it should be Excused or Unexcused), is by what the researcher writes in the Comments box. This is why the researcher is required to enter detailed information about No-Shows in the Comments box. Include information about whether the participant emailed to explain the absence, their reason for missing the study, etc. This information will be reviewed and in certain cases (emergency, documented illness, etc), the No-Show may be Excused. Typically, if a participant cancels less than 24 hours in advance or misses an appointment, the No-Show will be Unexcused. If someone receives two Unexcused No-Shows, their account will be locked and they will not be allowed to sign up for any more studies.
If a participant is late, you are not required to allow them to participate. If there is enough time remaining, or both you and the participant are willing to stay after the originally scheduled end time, you may choose to run the participant. However, participants are told that they will not be allowed to participate if they show up late, so you are under no obligation to run them. If you choose not to allow them to participate, mark them as a No-Show, and write in the Comments box that they showed up late for their scheduled appointment.
Researchers should remind participants to turn off and put away all cell phones, pagers, ipods, or anything else that may be distracting. If these devices are used during the study, the researcher may ask the participant to leave. If participants are being disruptive, purposely providing inaccurate or inappropriate responses, or acting in a manner which makes the researcher believe that the data will be unusable, a researcher can ask them to leave and they do not have to be paid. When updating attendance in the online subject pool system, the researcher should mark the person as a No-Show and describe their conduct in the Comments box.
People can always withdraw from a study they are not comfortable with, and they should be paid a prorated amount for the time they have spent. You don’t have to notify the Subject Pool Coordinator if a participant withdraws early from a paid study. (Note, however, that the IRB does require you to keep track of withdrawals. It’s part of the information they ask for in annual renewals of IRB protocols.)
By accident, a researcher may run a participant who has not signed up for their study (i.e., the researcher goes to award credit to the participant and realizes that their name is not on their credit page). If this happens, the researcher must email the Subject Pool Coordinator explaining the situation and providing the following: participant’s name, email address, study #, and session date/time.
Participants are asked to only sign up for studies whose pre-requisites they meet. If they do not meet the pre-requisites that are posted with your study or those that you have selected using the pretest, then you may choose not to run them. Mark the participant as a No-Show and write in the Comments box that the participant did not meet the pre-requisites for the study.
You currently cannot run participants younger than 18 using the Psychology Paid Research System. (This may change in future after we get any kinks worked out of the system.)
When you cancel a session, you must email the participants and the Subject Pool Coordinator. Include a list of the participants’ names in the email to the Coordinator. If it is more than 24 hours before the study, select the session you want to cancel and click Modify, which brings up the credits page. Change each participant’s status from No Action Taken to No Show. In the Comments box write Researcher Cancelled. This lets us know that this was a cancellation and it will be considered an Excused No-Show. If it is less than 24 hours before the study, you won’t be able to cancel the session in the online system but you should follow the rest of the procedures described here.
If a participant needs to cancel, and it is more than 24 hours before the session, tell them they can cancel online in the Paid Research System, under My Schedule/Credits. If it is less than 24 hours, then it is too late to cancel online. On the credits page, mark them as a No-Show and in the Comments box write Participant emailed too late to cancel. This will not excuse their No-Show, but it provides information about the No-Show, in case they appeal to have it excused.
If a participant misses a study, they must be marked as a No-Show. Information about the absence must be included in the Comments box. This can include whether they emailed to explain the absence, the justification for missing the study, etc. This information will be reviewed and in certain cases (emergency, documented illness, etc), the No-Show may be Excused. Typically, if they cancel less than 24 hours in advance or miss an appointment, it will be considered an Unexcused No-Show. After two Unexcused No-Shows, people will be locked out of the system and won’t be able to sign up for any more studies.
No. Researchers can’t offer make-up appointments or reschedule appointments within the Paid Research System. You must mark them as a No-Show. However, participants can still sign up for your study again online in the Paid Research System.
When a participant will be asked for third-party data, they should know that before signing up for the study. This information should be posted as a requirement for the study. The time involved to recruit a third party should not make the total amount of time spent participating in the study exceed what they have been told will be required. If a third party participates in research, the usual IRB guidelines regarding their informed consent apply. The debriefing procedure should make clear why third party data are important to the research.