Sona For Instructors

This is a step-by-step introduction to how instructors can utilize the Psychology Department Subject Pool for their classes. This walkthrough will be as comprehensive as possible, but please familiarize yourself with the Department’s Ethical Guidelines and Procedures for Research Using Human Participants. You might be using the Sona site wearing several “hats”. On one day, you may access the site as a researcher with the goal of adding a new study; on another day, you might need to access the site as an instructor looking to add a class to the Sona database; each role has a different user interface. As such, you will have two different User IDs. When you are trying to access the site as a researcher, your ID will be [YourULID]_researcher (example: edwesse_researcher). When you are trying to access the site as an instructor, it will be [YourULID]_instructor (example: edwesse_instructor). Your initial passwords will be e-mailed to you by a system administrator. After you have logged in, you can change your passwords to be whatever you wish.

Beginning of the Semester

  1. Registering your class

You need to email your class information to the Sona administrator (Dr. Laura Finan, by the end of the first week of the semester. This information needs to be in an Excel spreadsheet: Student first name, Student last name, Student user ID [their ULID]. This information can all be obtained from your course roster downloaded from MyIllinoisState. It is not necessary to send all the information that is on your roster. For the sake of simplicity, please only include the necessary information previously stated.

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Make sure to tell your students that any of them who joined the class after the end of the first week needs to take it upon themselves to email that information to the Sona administrator (Dr. Laura Finan, They need to also include the class they are using their participation credits for.


Here is some example language that you can put in your syllabus about study participation. This is based on a class that would require participation (or an alternative activity) as a course assignment. You will need to adjust it if your class is offering extra credit for study participation instead.


As an important component to learning, all students in PSY ### are required to earn ## experiment credit units for their participation in research sponsored by the Department of Psychology, or to complete equivalent written assignments. Instructions for research participation can be found at

If you join the class after the first week and wish to participate, please contact the Sona administrator (Dr. Laura Finan, with the following information: First Name, Last Name, Course(s) you wish to use your credits in, and your User ID (your ULID).

Students who do not wish to take part in research, or who cannot take part due to conflicts, may perform alternative written assignments. Guidelines for these alternative assignments are [insert your guidelines here].

If you choose to participate in research projects, you must sign up for individual research sessions using the Sona Systems sign-up program. The web address is

  1. User ID: The user id is the same as your ULID. Example: jsmith (from email
  2. Password: The password will be generated by the Sona Systems program early in the second week of the semester and sent to your ISU e-mail account (Example: Please check your ISU e-mail and let the Sona administraor (Dr. Laura Finan, know if you do not receive a password from Sona Systems by the end of the second week of the semester.

Even if you do not plan to participate in experiments at the beginning of the semester, you are advised to try logging in to the system.

You may cancel your participation in an experiment by following the instructions on-line in the Sona Systems program twenty-four hours in advance of the experiment session. Failure to do so will result in an “unexcused no show.” In the case of a dire emergency, you may directly contact the researcher or the Sona administrator for consideration in rescheduling the session.

You will have access to your participation history for the semester and be allowed to manage the allocation of your credits to their courses that are allowing research participation credit. Following your participation, researchers will award you the appropriate credit for the study. You will receive an automated e-mail notification of their credit.


You will be given an “unexcused no show” for each of the following infractions:

(1) Every failure to show for an experiment for which you signed up (unless excused).

(2) If you are late for the experiment. Many experiments have a strict schedule and if you are late you will not be able to participate. Avoid this problem by arriving 5 minutes early.

If it is found that you have been given “unexcused no shows” for missing 3 or more experiment sessions, you may be denied access to the Sona System. You must then use the Alternate Projects option to fulfill this course requirement. If you are denied access to Sona, you may be allowed to regain access to the Sona System under a limited amount of circumstances, but you will need to file an appeal at the following email address: This appeal must be a polite and professional essay that outlines the reasons for your missing the experiment sessions and a compelling reason why you should be re-admitted to the Sona System. Any rude or unprofessional content will not be tolerated and you may be reported to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action. When in doubt—be polite!

Various experiments are scheduled throughout the semester and are run until the last day of classes, but not during finals week. You should plan to complete your research participation before that date. Also, all alternate projects must be turned in by [insert your deadline].

Giving Students Credit

1. Credit Reports

As an instructor, you can access credit reports for each of the students in your class. Here is how to access these reports:

(A) After you log in, you will see this page. 

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(B) You will see a list of the courses for which you are responsible. Click the list you would like to see.

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Here is an example of what a credit report looks like: 

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Students who are in multiple psychology classes that use the Sona System can allocate their credits how they wish (similar to a bank account). Note: Departmental policy states that instructors cannot penalize students for any studies they are absent from (whether it is unexcused or excused). It is up to individual instructors if they wish to give bonus credit for students that have NO absences; in other words it is acceptable to reward pro-social behavior but unacceptable to punish students for truancy.

2. Giving Credit throughout the Semester

Some instructors give their students credit throughout the semester by pacing their participation (by exam, for example); other instructors prefer to give students credit at the end of the semester. It is important to note that the Sona System will keep track of how many credits your students accrue throughout the semester, but they will be allowed to allocate these credits differently up until the end of the semester. If you require your students to pace their participation, you will need to download credit reports at each due date and keep track of how many they allocated to your class. You can contact the Sona administrator (Dr. Laura Finan, if you need help navigating the system.