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SONA Instructions for Undergraduate Participants

The purpose of psychological research is the acquisition of knowledge. A great deal of what we know about human behavior is based on studies conducted at universities like TCU. Serving as a participant in an experiment provides students with direct exposure to psychological research. The descriptions of psychological research that appear in textbooks and scientific journals necessarily omit a great deal of information about what research is really like. Serving as a research participant thus complements what you learn in your courses by giving you a behind-the-scenes look at research.

Student Directions for Using SONA: How to Use Sona


General Psychology (PSYC 10213) Students

To develop a greater understanding and appreciation of psychological research, all students enrolled in General Psychology at TCU are required to earn 5 research credits. First-hand participation is the direct, hands-on approach to learning about the process of psychological research. However, if you would prefer not to participate in experiments, writing reviews of research articles published by TCU faculty is an acceptable alternative. Each of these options is described below.

How and where to sign up for research: If you choose to earn your 5 credits by participating in experiments, you will need to sign up for an account on SONA.  SONA is TCU’s web-based system for managing research participation. Studies will be posted in SONA throughout the semester. The times and number of sessions will vary, so check online regularly as new studies and sessions are always being added.

Please treat experiments in the same way you would a doctor’s appointment. If you absolutely cannot make a scheduled appointment, contact the experimenter by email to alert him/her about the situation. As an incentive against unexcused no-shows for research participation, students who accrue six (6) unexcused no-shows for research participation will be blocked from using SONA-systems.

Alternative assignment option: If you do not wish to participate in research, you may write summaries of research articles written by faculty members in the psychology department. The idea behind this assignment is that you can learn about departmental research and the experience of being involved in research without participating in the studies themselves. Students will earn 1 credit for 50 minutes of summarizing research. Keep in mind that this alternative activity cannot be applied to extra credit; further, students cannot earn half credits (.5) during the alternative activity (only full credits). Please see your course syllabus for specific dates and times for the alternative activity.

General Psychology students who have not earned the 5 required credits by the last day of class will receive an Incomplete (I) for the course. If the incomplete is not made up the following semester, it will automatically convert to an F. You must wait until the following semester to fulfill your research requirement. Please note, the Department does not offer credit over the summer so students who earn an “I” in the spring will have to wait until the Fall semester to complete their research hours. Additionally, students who drop PSYC 10213 after having served as a research participant or written an alternative activity CANNOT apply any accumulated credit towards the next time they take the course.

All other Psychology Courses

Several psychology courses allow students to participant in experiments for extra credit. Your professor will notify you if his or her course offers this option.

Students under 18 years of age

If you are under 18, you need to obtain permission from a parent/guardian prior to participating in studies. Complete the following form and return the document to Cindy Hayes (WIN 240).

Parental Consent Form