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The C&IS participant pool is made up of students currently enrolled in MC 101 in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. Some other courses, such as APR 231, are also regular participants in the pool. If you would like to include a research component in your course and want to enroll your class in the participant pool, please contact icir@ua.edu.

NOTE: A large percentage of the participant pool is under the age of 19. If you plan to use the participant pool, you will need to include all documentation involving minors in your IRB application.


General Policies

Violation of any of these policies could result in a suspension of participant pool use privileges. Please be sure that you understand these policies before using the participant pool website.

Faculty and research staff in C&IS have access to the participant pool. Graduate students have access to the participant pool under the supervision of a faculty member. Undergraduate students have access to the participant pool under the supervision of a faculty member and at the discretion of the ICIR.

Faculty or students who are not associated with C&IS may be allowed to access the pool during the three weeks before the pool closes. This is at the discretion of the ICIR and is dependent on the research needs of C&IS faculty.

Posting study descriptions to the Sona Systems website (see more information below) is the primary means of advertising studies to students in the pool. Researchers may contact instructors of the pool to promote their studies in the classroom. All sign ups, survey links, and credit granting MUST be done through Sona. Sign ups for your study cannot take place in the classroom.

In-class research studies (those that require the student to complete a survey/study during their class time in the classroom) in any of the participant pool courses are strongly discouraged and require prior permission from the ICIR. Students participating in in-class research studies will not receive credit for their participation through Sona and recording this information in conjunction with the information on Sona will be the responsibility of the researcher and the instructor.

Researchers posting studies to the pool must be reasonably available to student participants while their study is active. This includes checking e-mail during regular business hours and responding to student questions in a timely manner. Researchers are also responsible for ensuring that their credit granting is up-to-date.

Classroom-based research projects that are not sensitive in nature and will not be presented publicly outside of the classroom can use the participant pool at the discretion of the ICIR. These projects should include an informal consent form and the contact information for at least one student PI and the faculty member supervising the project. If you are considering sending the results of this study to a conference or journal, you MUST obtain IRB approval in advance of data collection.

IRB approval is required before a study can be activated on the participant pool. You may create a study posting while waiting for IRB approval, but it will not be made available to participants until you have received an IRB approval code. Falsifying or misusing an IRB approval code will result in permanent suspension from the participant pool and may result in further penalties through the Office for Research Compliance.


Requesting a Sona Systems Account

Sona Systems Tutorial

Sona Systems is the coordination website used to facilitate research through the participant pool. The address for the CIS participant pool site is uaicir.sona-systems.com. An account is required to recruit from the participant pool.

Using your UA-affiliated e-mail account, send an e-mail to icir@ua.edu with the following information:

  • The statement that you are requesting a Sona Systems Account
  • Your name
  • Whether you are faculty, staff, a graduate student, or an undergraduate student
  • If you are a student (any level): The name of your faculty supervisor

Accounts are generally created within 24 hours during the business week. Student accounts may take longer if a faculty supervisor needs to be confirmed.


Additional Information

Unless otherwise permitted by written permission of the ICIR, credit amounts for a study are as follows:

Online studies (1 hour or less) – .5 credits
Online studies (over 1 hour) – 1 credit
Lab-based studies – 1 credit

If you are using Qualtrics (or another external survey site), you must choose “Web Based Study (External).”

If you are using Qualtrics, in order to ensure you can grant credit follow the directions on this page: Automatic Credit Granting Through Qualtrics

IMPORTANT: Test your link before you request study approval.

If you are conducting a lab-based study, you may need participants to give you their Sona ID (this is different than CWID). This information should be included in the study advertisement. Students can access their Sona ID by logging into their Sona account, clicking on their name in the top right corner, and looking at “My Profile.”

You must mark your study as “Active” in order for it to appear on the list of studies that participants will see. Failing to mark your study as “Active” may also slow down the approval process.

You must request approval for your study to be visible to participants. If there are no problems with your study you should receive notice of approval within 24 hours during the business week.

You must add at least one timeslot for your study in order for participants to sign up for your study. Online Studies will have one timeslot that ends on a specific date. That date must be on or before the semester deadline posted to the website. Participants will be able to sign up freely during the time that the timeslot is open. Lab-based studies will have several specific dates and times so that participants can schedule the time when they will participate in a lab-based study.