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Department of Psychology

Participant Pool

Information for Students Using the USC Psychology Department Participant Pool

This year the University of South Carolina Psychology department human participant pool will continue to use a totally web-based method of interacting with students, experimenters and instructors.

How do I get started?
Students will access the web site at:

It is important to use this address as written, and not some web address to which you may be automatically redirected. This is the home page for the USC Psychology Department Participant Pool.


To register as a Participant in the system you will need to self-register. In order to self-register, click the NEW PARTICIPANT link at your site's main page to request an account. Enter the information requested. Your email should be the one issued by your institution if possible. You will also select the class(es) that you are currently enrolled in upon registration in order to receive participation credits towards a particular class. You will be able to change the allocation of credits to courses throughout the semester. After pressing SUBMIT, an email will be sent to you with your username and a temporary password to login to the system. Once you have used that information to login to the Sona website, you should change the password to something unique that you will be able to remember. If you have lost (or don't know) your password, simply enter your email in the Retrieve Password field.

Your password will be sent to your email address.

How do I sign up for Experiments?
First, go to the same web site as listed above and fill in your user name and password. After you login, click on the tab labeled "Study Sign Up." You will then see a list of all the available, as well as the number of credits they offer, for the date that appears in the upper right corner. You can search for available studies on any day that you choose. Find an experiment from the list that interests you and click on it. You will then see all the information associated with that experiment, as well as times that are available. If you wish to sign up for an experiment time simply click "sign up," located to the right of the experiment time. You will then see a confirmation screen. At this point, be sure to select the class to which you want credit assigned. Make sure you make a note of all the information that this screen provides, and click "confirm" to sign up or "cancel" if the time will not work for you. Note that the system will not allow you to sign up for the same experiment twice. The web will send you an email reminder about the experiment within 24 hours of the experiment.

Reviewing Information and Cancellations
In addition to the email reminder, you can review what experiments you are signed up for by clicking on the "My Schedule/Credits" tab. The experiments you are signed up for are listed under the heading "My Schedule/Credits." If you need to cancel an experiment before its start time, you may do so through this function. Simply click 'cancel,' located to the right of your experiment time. You will then be taken to a confirmation screen which will require you to confirm your cancellation. You may cancel an experiment up to one hour before your scheduled appointment in this way.

Penalties and Privileges
If you do not attend an experiment for which you signed up (and do not cancel before the experiment), you will accrue an "unexcused no show". There will not be any penalty for excused or unexcused no shows. However, if you accrue TWO "unexcused no shows", you will lose the privilege of participating in the human participant pool. If you are in Psyc 101, you may still submit papers for alternative credit."

Alternative for Students not wishing to Participate in Experiments

The Human Participant Pool offers a written alternative for Psyc 101 students not wishing to participate in experimental research. The purpose of participating in experiments is to gain hands on experience concerning how experimental research is conducted. Therefore, if you do not wish to participate, the next best way to gain insight into experimental research is by reading articles published in professional psychology journals.

Here's what to do. Select an article from a recent issue of a psychology journal (2000’s or later). The article must be at least 2 pages and the journal must be one that is available as a pdf through the electronic collection in the Thomas Cooper Library. Read the article and write a short, one page synopsis. The synopsis should state directly the major hypothesis being investigated, the method used by the researchers, and how the results supported or did not support the hypothesis. This should be a one page, double-spaced paper saved as a Microsoft Word document. Then email the word file along with the pdf file of the article to the participant pool TA at as attachments, with your email stating your participant pool user name and indicating which Psyc 101 section you are adding the extra credit to. Note that University policy on plagiarism prohibits you from using text of the article without proper citation. Each paper will constitute one hour research credit. Thus, if five hours are required, you need to write five such papers. (Papers can be mixed with experimental credits)

Copying from another student's paper is also considered plagiarism. To discourage plagiarism, these papers are filed by the last name of the article's author. All papers for a particular article will be compared to make sure that students are using their own words.

Contact the TA at for further questions. The last day to turn in papers for extra credit is Reading Day at noon.


To register as a Researcher in the system you will need to send an email to the administrator at and provide the following information that you would like associated with your account: username, email address, and researcher/principal investigator preference. You will then be added to the system as either a researcher or principal investigator. Sona will automatically send you an email to the address you provided that contains your login information, including a temporary random password that you should change after logging into the Sona site for the first time.

What about Web Experiments?
Information for signing up for web experiments will appear on this page shortly, once this procedure has been finalized.

If you have questions please contact the participant pool TA at
You may also find useful information by clicking on the frequently asked questions option (FAQ) after you login to the system. You may also find useful information by clicking on the frequently asked questions option (FAQ) after you login to the system.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.