Psychology Department Subject Pool

Participating Procedures | Experimenter Procedures | Instructor Procedures

A primary goal in our Introductory Psychology classes is to foster an appreciation and understanding of psychological research. All students will receive 1 credit per hour of participation in experiments. ALL students enrolled in Psychology 1030 will be required to participate in a minimum of 4 hours of research experiments with the first 1 hour of credit being the completion of the screening surveys available to the student when he/she signs up for the online Sona System (memphis.sona-systems.com).

Although you should check with your professor, usually it is possible for you to receive extra credit above and beyond the 4-credit hours needed for the class. This extra credit is earned in exactly the same way as the regular credit (an hour of participation in research for 1 hour of research credit). Typically, Psychology 1030 students have the opportunity to receive additional extra credit by participating in more than the 4 required credit hours. Any additional extra credit opportunities provided through the Subject Pool are given at the discretion of the course instructor. See your course syllabus or your instructor for a more detailed explanation.

If you have any questions concerning these requirements, it is best to ask your instructor for specifications. The experimenters may not know how your instructor will tally the points for grading.

The primary means for satisfying this requirement will be for each student to serve as a participant in department research projects. All schedules for research projects can be found on the online Sona System. An alternative is provided for students who do not wish to participate in research studies (ask your instructor for details).

It is the responsibility of the experimenters to provide a debriefing for each subject in his or her experiment; that is, to describe and discuss the project with each participant. This is important to facilitate your learning more about research. You should feel free to ask any questions about the project. Please note that it is unlikely that a psychology project will make you feel uncomfortable, and any participation is voluntary.

Participating in Experiments

The Subject Pool is administered through a web based program called the Sona System. You can use the system to find out about studies that interest you and for which you may qualify to participate. You can also schedule a research appointment, contact researchers for more information, and participate in online research.

Please CLICK HERE to view a short tutorial on how to use Sona system.

To sign up for experiments, GO HERE (memphis.sona-systems.com).

For more information about What to Expect CLICK HERE.

Important Information Needed the Day of Your Appointment

Be sure to make a note of the TIME, ROOM NUMBER, the RESEARCHER’S NAME, AND THE NAME OF THE STUDY when you sign up for the experiment. If you forget these details, please visit the Psychology Department’s main office (PSYC Bldg 202). However, do not visit the main office unless absolutely necessary. It is your responsibility to maintain the information necessary to locate your study and keep your appointment. The main office may NOT be able to help you find the location of your study unless you have the important information listed above.

Cancelling a Scheduled Experiment Appointment

If you must miss an experiment that you signed up for (due to illness or an emergency), it is expected that you will be courteous and contact the researcher and cancel your appointment. If you need to cancel or reschedule your experiment appointment, please contact the researcher as soon as possible. It is best if cancellations are made 24 hours or more in advance. However, if 24 hour notice is not possible, please send your cancellation notice to the researcher as soon as you can. By canceling your appointment in a timely fashion you are showing respect for your fellow students who might want to sign up for that timeslot, and also showing respect for the researcher.

How can you cancel a scheduled study?

  1. On the Sona System:
  2. Sign into the Sona system.
  3. Click "My Schedule and Credits" (beside the picture of the calendar organizer).
  4. Find the experiment that you want to cancel in the list of experiments that you have signed up for.
  5. Click "Cancel."
  6. Confirm cancellation by clicking "Yes I want to cancel" button.
  7. An email confirmation will be sent to yourself and the experimenter after you cancel.

Through Email:

  1. Sign into the SONA System.
  2. Click on “Studies.”
  3. Find the name of the study that you have signed up for.
  4. The researcher’s email address may be found on the study description page.
  5. Email any one of the researcher’s listed.

If you cannot cancel through the Sona System or by email, you can leave a message with the Psychology Department’s main office (901-678-2145). If this is necessary, please provide as much of the following information as your can:

  1. Your name
  2. Your University of Memphis UUID
  3. The name of the study you signed up for
  4. The name of the experimenter listed on the Sona System website
  5. The day and time of the experiment that you signed up for

Alternative to Experiments

An alternative to participation in experiments is available for those students who do not wish to participate in an experiment or for those students who have tried and failed to find an experiment that fits their schedule.

For this alternative, the student will be required to read an empirical journal article from a peer reviewed Psychology journal. The article must be approved by the student’s instructor. After approval, the student will write a 1 to 2 page, typed (double-spaced) summary of the article that includes information on what the researchers were studying, how they conducted the study, and what they found. The paper will then be turned in (along with a copy of the article) to the instructor for his/her review to determine if credit should be given. Each acceptable review paper will be worth 1 hour of Subject Pool credit. The student will be required to complete 4 papers, 1 for each of the 4 extra credit points that are required for Psychology 1030 (see your class syllabus). All of this information will be reviewed in class, but you can always see your course instructor if you need more detailed information.


Researchers using the Subject Pool must follow a variety of procedures to aid in the efforts to conduct ethical research. The first step a researcher must take is to become familiar with these procedures. At the beginning of the fall semester a subject pool meeting is held to explain these procedures. All researchers coming into contact with the Subject Pool must attend this meeting. Attendance at this meeting makes you eligible to use the Subject Pool for one year. Anyone unable to attend this meeting will have the opportunity to check out a video from the Reserve desk at the library and certify their understanding.

How are Subject Pool studies conducted?

First, researchers must have a current Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) certification on file with the University of Memphis Institutional Review Board (IRB). Details for this certification are available on the University of Memphis IRB website (Human Subject Protection).

Next, any study conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis must first be approved by the IRB. Once the researcher receives an IRB approval notification, the study may be submitted to the Psychology Department’s Subject Pool that is administered through a web based program called the Sona System. As a researcher this system allows you to post information about your study, to schedule appointments with participants, to contact participates who have signed up to participate in your study, and to administer online surveys. All studies submitted to the Subject Pool for inclusion in the Sona System must be accompanied by the IRB Approval, and the IRB Approval Number must appear in the description of all studies on the Sona System.

Can I prescreen participants?

Occasionally some researchers are looking for participants to meet certain criteria. Researchers with screening materials will work with the Subject Pool lifeguard at the beginning of each term (semester). All pre-screening will take place during the first four weeks of each semester. To ensure that time is apportioned appropriately across multiple screening items, and to ensure that a reasonable amount of time is allowed to complete all prescreening instruments (typically one hour or less total).  Individual prescreening surveys and inventories should be brief, taking no more than 5 minutes to complete.

As a researcher can I collect data in Psychology Department classrooms?

You must have IRB approval to collect data (prescreening data or research data) in classrooms. This approval must include procedures for protecting privacy and confidentiality (please be especially aware of this in large auditorium classes). IRB approval does not require the instructor of record to allocate class time for data collection. The instructor has the right to refuse to allow data collection for any reason. We ask that all researchers be respectful of our instructor’s decision.

What paperwork and information do I need?

Sample copies/templates have been provided for your convenience to help make using the Subject Pool a little easier: 

What paperwork and information do I need?

Sample copies/templates have been provided for your convenience to help make using the Subject Pool a little easier: