As psychologists, our understanding of the human mind and behavior is based largely on empirical findings from studies such as those conducted in our Psychology Department. We strongly encourage you to participate in psychological studies for several reasons. First, we believe that you will gain some direct knowledge of the research process. Second, your participation provides an important contribution to the field of psychology. Third, participating in studies gives you the opportunity to earn extra credit or to satisfy a requirement for your course.
Consequently, as part of your undergraduate psychology course experience, you are required to obtain some research-related experience. Check your class syllabus to determine what research options are available to you. If you do not wish to participate in research studies, there may be other ways in which you can gain research-related experience such as attending departmental talks by visiting scholars. Please speak to your professor to learn more.
One option that is available to all psychology undergraduate classes is to participate in the online PRESCREEN. You can access this option by logging into SONA and completing the Prescreen you will automatically be offered. Like all experiments involving human subjects, participants are free to withdraw and you may freely decline to respond to any particular questions.
There are a lot of reasons to choose to participate in the PRESCREEN. It is quick, easy and makes you eligible for studies that may not be available to others as some studies are only available to people who have taken the PRESCREEN. This may increase your chances of getting all the extra credit you need. It only takes an hour and you will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires. The longer on-line PRESCREEN is offered only during the first few weeks of the semester. The purpose of this longer online survey is to allow researchers to determine who is eligible to participate in their studies. For example, some researchers are seeking people who speak more than one language; others need people who hold particular beliefs or who have experience a particular life event.
The PRESCREEN is completed through the Sona system.
The URL is http://umasspsych.sona-systems.com
You will need to log into the system using the instructions in the pdf in the right-hand column of this page. The system will take you automatically to the PRESCREEN.
Students in all psychology classes are offered an extra credit option for completing the longer PRESCREEN. If you complete the longer PRESCREEN between January 22nd and February 12th at 11:59pm you will be granted 2 extra credits in the class you choose that accepts Human Subject Extra Credit. These credits can be assigned to only one class. Be sure to check your class syllabus to see if they accept these extra credits. You must complete the longer PRESCREEN during the three week window to be eligible for those extra credits. If you do not wish to participate in the prescreen or research studies, there are other ways for you to earn extra-credit in your course. Please speak to your professor to find out more about those opportunities.
After the longer prescreen has been taken down, a much shorter questionnaire will be offered. There is no extra credit for completing this but as with the longer prescreen, it may provide you an opportunity for being eligible for studies you otherwise would not have access to.
How can you sign up for the studies?
Again, all psychology studies that are available are listed on Sona System. The web address is http://umasspsych.sona-systems.com The instructions for logging onto the system can be obtained by accessing the pdf in the right hand column of this page.
If you have any problems you can come to Tobin Rm 441 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What should you expect from each study in which you participate?
1. Courteous treatment. The researcher should be present at the appointed time and place, and should treat their subjects considerately. Failures to be treated courteously should be reported to your instructor or the Department Chair.
2. Consent. Subjects must consent to the study procedures. To do this, researchers must obtain written signed consent forms prior to the study. So that subjects are informed concerning what they are consenting to, the researcher must provide a fair and as full an explanation as possible of the procedures before asking subjects to sign. This description should include information concerning any discomfort or risks as well as any benefits to be expected. Researchers also should offer to answer any questions concerning the procedures and mention the right to leave the study (see point 3)
3. The Right to leave any study at any time. Subjects may leave a session at any time and still receive credit.
4. Informative Feedback. Researchers must explain each study to the students that participate. This explanation should be clear and useful. Failures to provide adequate feedback should be reported to your course instructor.
What obligations do students have when they sign up for a study?
1. Prompt arrival at the session. Students should arrive on time at the session. When students do not show up, the researcher’s time is wasted. Often researchers lose an hour or more every time a subject fails to show up. Of course there are times when it cannot be helped. It is important that you contact the researcher and explain the situation. No-shows are tracked by SONA.
Earning extra credit through Human Subject Studies is a privilege. If you accumulate 3 or more no-shows in a semester you may lose the privilege to participate in any more studies that semester.
2. Attention to feedback. Making participation genuinely educational is an obligation of students as well as researchers. Feedback is more likely to be interesting if students pay close attention to the researcher’s explanation and ask a few probing questions.