The Department of Psychology and the Research Experiences Group (REG) have a number of policies surrounding our rules and regulations which have been imposed by the University of Waterloo Department of Psychology, REG Management Committee and the Office of Research Ethics. As a REG/SONA researcher it is your responsibility to be aware of and to follow these policies. Violation of these policies may result in denial of your access to SONA.
REG and Department Policies
The University of Waterloo holds a site license for the use of Qualtrics survey software. If you want more information about setting up your account on Qualtrics please contact Bill Eickmeier or Daev McLean.
If you would like to have more information about obtaining your own license please contact Qualtrics at http://www.qualtrics.com/.
Processing of Ethics Applications
Only ethics application forms from the University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology Faculty, students, and staff are to be processed by the Department of Psychology, Ethics Administrator. Honours thesis students enrolled in the University of Waterloo Psychology 499 program must have an approved University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology supervisor. On occasion non-members of the department can submit ethics applications to the Ethics Administrator if they have been approved by the Department to serve as supervisors of Honours thesis students in the University of Waterloo Psychology 499 program.
The use of the SONA program for posting and running studies; submission of scales and/or questions to the Mass Testing Survey, PreScreen Questionnaire, and Validation Testing Survey; and data acquired from any and all of these investigations is available for the Faculty, students and staff of the University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology. This usage will also be available to non-department faculty members who have been approved by the Department to serve as supervisors of Honours thesis students in the University of Waterloo Psychology 499 program. SONA will also be available to faculty outside of the department if they are instructors of Psychology courses, who contribute participants to the pool by enrolling their course in the program. For these latter members, SONA availability is restricted to the academic year in which they contributed participants.
Participation Credit/Duration Remuneration
(Updated January 2023)
One Session In-Lab Studies
In-lab studies remunerate in 30 minute / .5 credit increments for a total of 1.5 credits. Duration can be longer than 90 minutes but the remuneration beyond the 1.5 credits should be in other forms such as cash, gift certificate, etc. Exceptions will be for studies requiring extensive preparation (i.e., - EEG studies) and will be exempt on a case-by-case basis.
Remote Access Studies
The same as in lab, however completed over video conferencing software.
Multiple Session In-Lab Studies
The credit value for multiple session in-lab studies follows the 15 minute / .25 credit increment value for a total credit value of 1.5 credits (90 minutes) for all sessions. If the total duration for all sessions is greater than 90 minutes other forms of remuneration should be offered (i.e., – gift certificates, cash, etc.).
Online studies remunerate in 15 minute / .25 credit increments for a total of 1.5 credits. Duration can be longer than 90 minutes but the remuneration beyond the 1.5 credits should be in other forms such as cash, gift certificate, etc.
In all cases, it must be clearly identified how additional remuneration will be provided to participants.
Paid remuneration for in-lab (see note above) and online SONA and on-campus studies is $2.50 to $3.00 per 15 minute increments (eg. a 30 minute study would remunerate $5 to $6 or cash equivalent). Studies with amounts outside this guideline must provide justification in the ethics application for the difference and obtained ethical clearance (see the ORE website for crowdsourcing guidelines).
For studies offering credits and the study duration is longer than 90 minutes (see above guidelines) then remuneration should be provided in other forms with value equalling $2.50 to $3.00 per 15 minute increments. For example, a study that is 120 minutes (2 hours) in duration could offer 1.5 credits for the first 90 minutes and then a gift card (or cash) valued at $5.00 for the remaining 30 minutes of the study.
Participants must not be given fewer credits than listed on your ICL (Information-Consent Letter) and approved in your Office of Research Ethics (ORE) application.
The ORE requires participants to be granted full credit for study participation even if they choose to withdraw partway through. Participants are volunteering to participate in the studies and are free to withdraw at any time without penalty. But there is an expectation that they will put in some kind of reasonable effort because they signed up to do the study. So, should a participant sign a consent form and then say they would like to withdraw, the Researcher should not inquire if there is something wrong, but ask if they would like to reschedule.
If the participant still says no to this you may offer a pro-rated remuneration if ethical approval has been received. Researchers may offer an explanation, for instance, that because the study was for 1 hour and you only did a portion of that you would receive a pro-rated credit (.5 credit as only completed 1/2 hour of the study). NOTE: if this is what you would like to offer it must be indicated in your Information Letter that the participant reads prior to signing the consent form. At no time should you argue with the participant as they are volunteering, so you may need to award the full credit after all.
You should, however, grant a student extra credit if your study runs longer (e.g. due to minor technical difficulties). In this case, please round up the extra time to the nearest half-hour and grant the student the appropriate credit. Failure to comply with this regulation will result in the immediate revocation of REG privileges for the remainder of the term.
Researchers must provide participants with at least 24 hours of notice of cancellation. This is a full 24 hours, not just "the day or evening before." Always be sure of yours and the lab's availabilities before creating timeslots. It is unacceptable to cancel any timeslot after it has been created because of scheduling conflicts.
See cancellation guidelines for more information.
With more than 24 hours notice you can cancel a participant by selecting the [Cancel] button on the SONA timeslot signup to delete their sign-up and send a cancellation notification. The time slot itself will remain intact so be sure to delete the time slot as well. You must also provide an explanation for the cancellation to the participant (see FAQ#9 on SONA for mandatory cancellation message).
With less than 24 hours notice you must not cancel the participant or time slot. Rather you must grant full credit then select the [Contact] button to send a cancellation notification and advise them that their credit will be granted. Please include a information in the 'Comment' field explaining the reasoning for cancelling.
Lab studies: credits must be granted and no-shows marked on the same day as the appointment. Please make this your final task before leaving for the day.
Online studies: for studies created using SONA's Online Survey Study option, SONA will automatically grant credit upon submission of responses. For studies created using the Online External Studies option (eg. Qualtrics), there is a procedure explained on the SONA FAQ page (#9.1) to automatically grant credits. Without following this procedure credits will not be granted to the participant's account and the researcher must grant credit manually. This would require that you check your data file once every day (or every 2 days) to identify new participants and then grant credits to those participants.
There are two ways to mark a no-show on SONA:
Please note that participants understandably get confused about study locations. Often they are doing several studies in 1 week, or in 1 day, in up to 6 different waiting areas. As a researcher it is your job to arrive in the designated waiting area a few minutes before the study time, and wait there for a full 10 minutes. If, after 10 minutes the participant does not appear please check the most common waiting areas (Gambling Lab 1st floor, PAS-2E, 3E, 4E). If, after 10 minutes the participant is not found then you may mark them as an "Unexcused No-show". Further, check with the REG Coordinator to see if an online "Can'f Find Your Researcher?" form has been submitted online or if the participant has completed a hard copy of the form and left it at the waiting areas.
Unexcused no-show: If the participant does not appear in any of the PAS waiting areas or at the specified study room, within 10 minutes of the specified study time and does not contact the researcher within 24 hours of the missed appointment then an "unexcused no-show" will be granted to the participant's account.
Excused no-show: If the participant is a no-show as defined above however he/she contacts the researcher within 24 hours of the missed appointment to explain the absence then an "excused no-show" is granted to the participant's account. We ask you to be fair and lenient in deciding whether to excuse the no-show. When in doubt, contact the REG Coordinator.
If the researcher is a no-show: Once a participant is scheduled, a researcher must meet him/her at the agreed-upon place and time. If the researcher is more than 15 minutes late, and the participant has waited at the agreed-upon place from the agreed-upon time until 15 minutes afterwards, then the participant is entitled to the credit without participating in the study. The participant may then leave and credit should be granted.
It is very unprofessional to miss an appointment with a participant. Interest in research participation is likely to decrease for this participant and any other students who hear about it. To reduce any confusion, please ensure that your SONA study information is sufficiently detailed, and includes information such as your lab number, phone extension, e-mail address, where to wait, etc.
When creating a scale or online study in SONA, all items must give participants the option to decline to respond.
This is important. The TCPS2 and the ORE requires that participants have the right to withdraw consent at any time, and this includes the right to withdraw consent for individual items. This means that participants must be able to decline to answer any item they choose without it negatively impacting them. You can run online studies on SONA in two ways; SONA's "Online Survey Study" in which 'decline to respond' is the default setting; and "Online External Study" (eg - Qualtrics) in which you must manually create this setting. Occasionally, a participant will take advantage of this and select 'decline to respond' to most/all questions in order to get through the survey more quickly. If this happens, please contact the REG Coordinator providing the participant's SONA ID Number, study name and participation date.
REG is aware that it is easy to overlook this when creating your scale or study; however, given its importance, we request that you be vigilant.
When adding a new study in SONA, the "Study Name", "Brief Abstract", and "Detailed Description" must be the title and descriptions that received full ethics clearance.
Because participants effectively self-select which studies they want to participate in, the only way to ensure a level playing field for all studies is to require that the titles and descriptions all be equally clinical. Your title must reflect the basic nature of the study and have some reference to psychology topics. "Catchy" titles are fine, as long as they are relevant to the task/procedures.
The use of html in study names or study abstracts is not permitted. The limited use of html in the "detailed description" of your study is permitted. To meet accessibility policies the use of colour and italics is prohibited.
Failure to comply with any of the regulations may result in denial of your access to SONA.
Prescreen questionnaire and mass testing survey
With the growing usage of the REG participant pool and an increase in the demand for Prescreen questions and Mass Testing scales, not all questions/scales requested can be included in the Prescreen Questionnaire/Mass Testing Survey. You may only include a question in the Prescreen Questionnaire or a scale in the Mass Testing Survey if you need it in order to pre-select participants based on their responses/scores for a study that will be run during the current term. All other questions/scales must be administered before, during or after the study session. You are free to register your non-selection questions/scales however, due to time and space constraints, we can't guarantee that your scale will be included.
Prescreen Questionnaire, question registration is done in one step through the PreScreen Questionnaire Submission form.
Mass Testing Survey, scale registration and order determination is done in two steps; first, through the Mass Testing Survey Submission form and second, through a "User's Group" committee composed of all researchers wishing to submit scales to Mass Testing, and is headed by the REG Coordinator.
See the FAQ page of your SONA account, item 8 for details on how and when to register your Prescreen questions and/or Mass Testing scales. An e-mail will be sent to all Psych faculty and researchers 4 weeks before lectures end to initiate the planning for the following term's Prescreen Questionnaire and Mass Testing Survey.
The study using your Mass Testing scale must have full ethics clearance before the end of next term. Your ethics application must indicate that you plan to administer the scale in Mass Testing and how you will use the data. You must also provide a copy of the scale in your Appendices. Also, view the ethics guidelines.
Failure to complete the PreScreen Submission form and Mass Testing Submission form, and respond to inquiries from the REG Coordinator may result in exclusion of your questions/scales.