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Human Research Protection Program and Human Subject Pool

Experimental Participation and Education
Subject Rights
Rights of Experimental Participants
Guidelines for all Experimenters using Subject Pool
Subject Pool Policies

All experiments involving human subjects must be approved by the University's Committee on Activities/Investigations Involving Human Subjects before research begins. Forms are available at the Human Research Protection Program’s website.

Experimental Participation and Education

The justification for our students' participation requirement is that it is an educational experience for the student. For this purpose "educational" is broadly defined. It may be achieved, for example, by giving the subject some familiarity with experimental techniques or instruments, or by explaining the research question the experiment was designed to answer. Whenever possible, it should include a thorough debriefing about the objectives of the study. It is up to the experimenter to ensure that subjects "feel educated," and that the content of an instructional period is aimed toward that end. Each experimenter using the subject pool is required to include a standard period of at least five minutes during which the purpose and nature of the experiment are explained and discussed. Every quarter, all experimenters who wish to use the Subject-Pool must submit an outline of their instructional component on the "Experimenter’s Subject Hours Request" form. This is not a recommendation but a requirement for all those who use the Pool! Your agreement to follow the Pool's regulations, certified on the "Experimenter’s Subject Hours Request " form, includes this requirement.

Subjects' Rights

Although students are informed of their rights at an early meeting of the lower-division classes, students may be absent from that meeting, or may never get the message. It is recommended that experimenters give each subject a brief written statement of rights at the outset of their studies. Copies of this statement may be obtained from the Human Research Protection Program’s website, or from the Undergraduate Student Services Office in Mandler Hall 1533.

Rights of Experimental Participants

  1. In order to participate, it is necessary for us to receive your voluntary consent.
  2. You may refuse to answer any questions or perform any tasks that are requested of you. You are at liberty to end the experiment at any time; if you should reach a physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems objectionable to you; if your moral, ethical, or religious convictions are offended; or if you feel you can no longer respond adequately. This is your right; you may apply it in any experiment at any time without penalty.
  3. You are entitled to an instructional period of no less than five minutes concerning the experiment and its purposes.

Note: Students under 18 (e.g. high school students) participating in experiments must have consent of parents or have a signed waiver.


The Psychology Department utilizes an online experimental sign-up program named SONA, which allows experimenters to “post” their experiments online. Prior to signing up for an experiment, students must select the course to which they wish to assign the credit. Students then browse through the available experiments and sign up for them via the Internet. Experimenters can check the current schedule from any web browser, and credit is assigned to students through the website. Students receive email reminders of upcoming appointments, and they may check their current credit balance at any time. At the end of the quarter, convenient reporting of student credits is available by name, student number, or course.

Guidelines for All Experimenters Using Subject Pool

(Faculty, Post Docs, Graduate Students, 194s, 196s, and 199s)
The following rules are designed to prevent any experimenter from gaining an unfair advantage in the recruiting of subjects. The guiding principle is that, since we are all drawing from the same pool, any experimenter who attracts a disproportionate number of subjects leaves fewer for his or her colleagues.

  • Email the Undergraduate Advisors ( to request approval for an account.
  • Slots for sign-ups must come in one-half hour increments. You may not indicate or imply that an experiment will take less time than the credit hours offered.
  • No more than two hours of credit may be earned from any single experiment. (Experimenters needing three hours from a subject will have to pay for the third hour.)
  • Experimenters may not recruit subjects by going to classes. Experimenters should apply to use the subject pool every quarter that they plan to run subjects.

Subject Pool Policies

Recording Participation for Credit

Within 24 hours after an experimental session, select “view schedule” to award credit (or penalty) to the participant.

Excused Absences

Frequently, subjects will have to cancel their research appointments. Students can cancel an appointment via SONA without penalty as long as they do so at least 24 hours prior to the experiment. Confirmation will be sent to their email address.

Subjects Who Fail to Appear

If a subject fails to appear for a research appointment and does not (or cannot) re-schedule, the experimenter should assign a penalty to that student.

Students will be penalized for "No Shows" by having the corresponding number of hours listed as a penalty in the “view schedule” section of the “experimenter area.” If the show-up rate is to be improved, it is important that failure to show consistently results in such penalties. Students who do not complete the required experimental hours will have their final grade adjusted at the discretion of the instructor.