Here, the new section of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for SONA researchers will be updated starting May 2019. Suggestions and questions are welcome and can be sent to the SONA-Team.
Information about the creation of studies and for general usage of the SONA participant pool of the Cognitive Sciences can be found in the guidelines.
How can I change/adjust the compensation type (credit/paid) for a study?
The settings for compensation (paid/credit) which are fixed when a new study is created cannot be changed later! An option that both compensations are possible does not exist in SONA (but there is a workaround, see below).
In paid studies it not impossible to grant credits (VP-Stunden). If you would like to change the compensation from money to credits you need to create a new study (or use the study-copy function).
In credit studies it is possible to adjust the number of granted credits individually for each appointment. This is handy if the test session takes longer than expected or in case that the participant would like to receive money instead of credits. In the latter case set the credit to zero and enter "received money" or something similar in the comment field so that it is later traceable why no credits have been granted.
This means that if a study should offer both options you need to create it as credit study. The possibility of monetary compensation should be placed prominently in the abstract and in the study description by also highlighting it in bold (between the HTML tags <b> and </b>).
What should be entered as study duration?
Here you enter the mean study duration in minutes rounded up to the next quarter of an hour. This means that studies for which most participants need maximally half a quarter of an hour you would enter: 15. For study that takes on average about 50 minuntes: 60.
Important! If the study is granting credits (VP-Stunden), the number of credits needs to match the duration. Since the smallest unit of credits is a quarter, this means:
|1 – 15||15||0.25|
|16 – 30||30||0.5|
|31 – 45||45||0.75|
|46 – 60||60||1|
|61 – 75||75||1.25|
|76 – 90||90||1.5|
|91 – 105||105||1.75|
|106 – 120||120||2|
The duration of a study must not be stated with less minutes than the amount of credits indicate (even if it is true) in order to avoid an inflation of credits. It is also not allowed to advertise a study with a short duration (such as "only 50 min for 1 credit").
Special features for online studies
There are a few special features for online studies that are worth paying attention to.
- Internal and external online studies
- You can create internal (Online Internal Survey) and external (Online External Study) online studies.
- Internal online studies are implemented directly in SONA. The functionality of this compared to other online survey systems is quite restricted but sufficient for simple questionnaires. In the case of these internal online studies it is important to regularly export the data from SONA as there is no guarantee that the data will be available long-term.
- External online studies are probably the normal case. These are studies that are implement in systems like Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, LimeSurvey, Unipark or similar. For these, it is important to ensure that the data in these external systems can be assigned to the participants in SONA. The safest and simplest way to achieve this is to aks participants in one of the form fields for their SONA ID. There is also the possibility that SONA communicates with an external system including the option to have automatic credit granting in SONA after a successful (i.e. complete) participation in a survey. Due to the variety of external systems the SONA team can not recommend anything. Information about establishing communication between SONA and external surveys can be found on the SONA website.
- As for lab studies you have to create a timeslot for online studies. In contrast to lab studies, a timeslot is not an appointment with an individual participant but a time span in which participants can complete the online study. For this timeslot you need to specify the maximal number of participants.
- We recommend a timeslot of 2 weeks after which you can, of course, have another one (if necessary). Make sure that timeslots in online studies do not overlap as this might cause problems in the system. This way you you have a better overview when you grant the credits (see Granting credits below) and in addition you have better control over the number of participants in your online study.
- Convert lab studies into online studies
- Since 22nd of March 2020 SONA has a new feature to copy an existing lab study into an external online study. Of course, this concerns the SONA part of the study, not the study itself. To do this you click on "Copy Sudy" in the "Study Menu" after which you will see the option to either create a lab or an external online study (as a copy). You can change the option "Credit" or "Paid" as well.
- Granting credits
- Unxecused No-Show: As in lab studies you should mark the participation of online studies in a timely manner. The recommendation is to do that once a week. Important!: The option "unexcused No-Show" should not be used for online studies even though it is available. A person is listed as participant once she or he clicks on the SONA participation link. If there are no data for this person in the external online survey or if the data are incomplete, you can either contact the participant or you mark them as "excused No-Show". The unexcused no-shows in our system are reserved vor lab studies because in those a no-show incurs higher costs compared to online studies (blocked rooms that cannot be used otherwise, waiting experimenters and the like). In addition there is always the possibility that a person decides not to participate after clicking on the link or there might have been technical problems (internet/server connections, computer of the participant, etc.).
- Automatic credit assignment: In internal online studies people are always marked as "participated" as soon as they have responded to the last question of the internal survey.
- Adding participants manually (participation not documented in SONA)
- Problem: It happens that SONA participants take part in an external online study but do so by going directly to the external page and not via the link in SONA (e.g. because other students forward them the external link). Thus SONA does not list them as participants and researchers are unable to grant credits or to confirm their participation.
- Solution: As researcher you can sign up participants yourself if you have their SONA ID. This is done here:
Study Menu > View/Administer Timeslots > Modify > Manual Sign Up
- If possible, please notify participants that they should always participate in external online studies by clicking on the SONA link so that their participation is logged in the system and no additional work is created for the researchers.
An external student asked me for a confirmation of participation. What do I have to do?
Students from other institutions can participate in studies on our SONA platform for credits (VP-Stunden), for example from the MHB (Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane).
They may ask you for a written confirmation of participation. Our procedure is as follows and should be communicated to these external students as such:
- Participation and granting of credits will be done as usual in SONA. This means that you as a SONA researcher do not need to issue such a confirmation.
- The external students should contact the SONA Team once they have collected all of their credits.
- The SONA Team will compile a list with all their SONA credits and send it to them.