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Sona Systems

Sona Systems is an online research participation system used by the Psychology Department at Metropolitan State University. Sona software provides an online experiment management system that is compliant with human subjects’ regulations.

Rationale for research participation

Much of what psychologists know comes from research studies conducted at universities like Metropolitan State. If we are to learn about human behavior, then we must observe humans. By agreeing to participate in research studies conducted by members of our university, you are providing information that is not available by any other means. In addition, we intend for your participation to have educational value for you as a student. Thus, you will be given a full explanation of the studies in which you participate. Aggregated results of the studies in which you participate will be made available to you upon request.


Students enrolled in certain classes (ask your instructor if your class is eligible) may participate in research to:

  1. fulfill a course requirement,
  2. receive extra credit, or
  3. both.

Each hour of research participation will earn you "one credit" in the Sona system. Values are clearly indicated in the system for each study. Your instructor determines the value of each credit. For example, each credit might equal five points toward your course grade. Furthermore, your instructor determines the maximum amount of research extra credit that you can earn for the course. Finally, your instructor will provide alternative assignments so that you can still earn extra credit without participating in research.

Rights of participants

You may choose to leave any experiment at any time without penalty. If you choose to leave, you will receive at least partial credit for that session. If there is ever an instance in which you feel that you were not treated properly, respectfully and courteously, you should contact the principal investigator of the study you participated in or the Human Subjects Review Board at or 651-793-1920.

Responsibilities of participants

During studies, you should behave in the same way you would during an exam. Any behavior that disrupts a research study even slightly is a violation of the Student Conduct Code.


 If you have signed up for a study and you cannot keep your appointment you should cancel your appointment online at least 24 hours prior to the study. Return to your Sona account, and under the ""My Schedule"" tab, you should attempt to cancel your time slot appointment. After the 24-hour cut off, you must contact the researcher directly (their contact information is included with the sign-up information).

If you do not reschedule, either through Sona or with the researcher, before your scheduled time slot, then your participation will be counted as an ""unexcused no-show."" If you believe that your participation should instead be recorded as an ""excused no-show,"" you should contact the researcher directly and explain to them why you believe this to be the case.

Unexcused absences

If you miss two studies in one semester without canceling your appointment (either online or by contacting the researcher directly) you will be blocked from participating in any studies posted on Sona for the remainder of the semester.

Late policy

In order to participate in a study, subjects must arrive at an appointment on time.

  • If a participant arrives more than five minutes after an appointment is scheduled to begin, the researcher is under no obligation to run the study or to award credit.
  • It is at the researcher's discretion whether they choose to reschedule the appointment with the subject.
  • In the event that a researcher is more than 10 minutes late or does not show up for a scheduled appointment, the participant is entitled to credit (for the value of credit assigned to the study).
  • If the researcher is late, the participant will receive credit from the experimenter.
  • If the researcher does not show up, the participant should call or email the researcher directly (contact info is found in SONA) to make arrangements to receive their credit.
  • Participation: Most studies will take place in the Psychology Lab (MDWY 370AA), although some studies will be completed online. Online studies will contain a link in Sona once you have signed up and are eligible. Studies that take place in the lab will require participants to sign up for a time slot.
  • Participants must be over 18 to participate in research. Students who are under 18 should limit themselves to the alternative assignments.
  • Don't wait until the last few weeks of the semester to sign up for studies, as there may not be time slots left or studies may no longer be available. New studies can be posted at any time, so check back regularly to find studies that interest you.
  • All researchers will list the eligibility criteria for participation in the study. Location information and/or specific instructions on how to prepare for the study will be in the description section of the study details. Read this information carefully. Participants who have any questions about what a study requires must contact the researcher directly for clarification.
  • You may only participate once in any study. If you have already participated in an experiment, you must select different experiments thereafter. Some experiments have two parts and are conducted on two different days; if you select an experiment that has two parts, attend both sessions to receive credit for both.
  • When the experiment is over, the researcher will enter your attendance into the system within 48 hours.


There is a deadline after which no points from studies will be accepted. The deadline may vary between courses, so check your syllabi for specifics. Notice: this is the deadline to actually be in the study. You will need to have signed up earlier. Also remember, as noted above, research studies can start to wind down before the deadline, so if you wait too long to get your credits, you may not be able to find any studies available.
Accounts that have been inactive for more than two semesters will be deleted over the summer semester. If this happens, you can simply register for a new account.

Where to direct questions

Your instructor

Since course requirements and credits vary from instructor to instructor, you want to ask them basic questions about the maximum number of credits you can earn or are required to complete. They will also be able to tell you if there are alternative options if you are not comfortable with research participation through Sona. However, instructors tend to have no contact with the Sona system until the very end of the semester when they collect the final credit report for grading purposes.

The researcher

Any questions about the procedures, requirements or status of a particular study should be addressed to the researcher in charge of that study. This includes questions related to time slot sign-up or cancellations, and to any questions related to crediting decisions made by the researcher. If you missed your appointment or had difficulty with an online survey, contact the researcher listed in the study information immediately.

Sona support

Any questions pertaining to the Sona System generally should be addressed by email to the system administrator at Questions the administrator is most used to receiving involve things like difficulty accessing an account, or why a class or a study that should be available or visible within Sona appears not to be available or visible.