Please keep in mind that while the students are curious about your work, they are often somewhat nervous about being in a study. Your compliance with the following instructions and your considerate treatment of student volunteers will ensure that the participant pool works well. Your study should be a positive learning experience for them. Participants from the Department of Psychology participant pool must be 18 years of age or older on the day of your experiment. Please exclude participants who are minors because they cannot legally consent to participate in experiments.

Step 1: Complete mandatory JMU training in Protection of Human Participants.

JMU requires that all personnel who have any role in research involving humans must complete a web-based training package.

Step 2: Seek approval for your project from the JMU Institutional Review Board (IRB)

All research applications must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board for approval of human participant research. View procedures for IRB approval and necessary form. Following IRB approval, contact the Participant Pool Coordinator:

Office: Miller 1170 

Before scheduling participants, you must submit a copy of the IRB approval form, IRB proposal, including the informed consent form, and the debriefing form, to the Participant Pool Coordinator.

Step 3: Obtaining Materials

Upon receipt of your IRB approval, IRB proposal, including the informed consent and debriefing forms, the Participant Pool Coordinator will issue passwords, information on accessing your study, and written instructions regarding how to schedule experiments using the Sona Systems web site.

To help the Participant Pool Coordinator quickly process your request, consider sending the following information along with your IRB:

  1. Is this a 1 part or multiple part study?
  2. How long will your study take to complete?
  3. What is the maximum number of participants listed in your IRB protocol?
  4. Will students be coming into the lab, or will you be using an outside survey website like Qualtrics?
  5. What is the title you would like the students to see when they sign up for your study?

Step 4: Posting Materials

You post your "Sign-Up Sheets" on the web using the Sona Systems software. Students will receive an e-mail reminder about their participation appointments in advance of the session. As an experimenter, you can view a list of students who have agreed to participate in each of your sessions.

Step 5: Experiment Session

  1. Take attendance. You will need to know who attended or did not attend your session to complete your responsibility later to record attendance on Sona Systems.
  2. Have every participant complete the informed consent form and give one copy of the form to the student participant.
  3. Run your protocol.
  4. Following the experiment, debrief participants. 
    Please remember that students earn credit for showing up. Participation is voluntary. Should they be unable or unwilling to complete the experiment, they still earn credit.

Step 6: Follow-up

Experimenters are required to enter attendance credits. Within 24 hours of each experimental session, use Sona Systems to record attendance and no-shows. This must be done promptly since students can check a credit earned for experiments online and their records must be accurate. Please report any problems to the Participant Pool Coordinator as soon as they occur.


Students receive a reminder to attend their scheduled research appointment at around 5 PM the day before their study, so it is only fair that we require the same advance notice when experimenters cancel. If an emergency occurs and an experimenter needs to cancel an experimental session less than 24 hours prior to the planned session time, any student who has signed up for that experiment will earn 1 participation credit even though their session is cancelled. If an experiment needs to be cancelled within 24 hours of the time of session, DO NOT CANCEL THE SESSION USING Sona Systems or the information we need to properly assign credit will be lost. Instead, contact the Participant Pool Coordinator ( for assistance.

When the University is closed due to inclement weather, all experiments are cancelled during the period the university is closed. Do not expect participants to show up when the university is closed.  Do not penalize participants for not showing up in this situation and do not award credit.  Reschedule sessions as necessary once school is open again. 

Additional Information

Please do not schedule research sessions after the end-of-semester deadline posted on the participant instructions page.

Please review the procedure for cancellation found in the student instructions. If a student should contact you with a question or problem concerning credit or cancellation, it would be helpful if you forwarded that call or e-mail to the Participant Pool Coordinator or (

You can generate an email from Sona Systems to notify participants of changes in your study. After logging into Sona Systems and selecting your study, choose Contact Participants from the menu at the bottom of the page. Emails for individual participants are also listed on Sona Systems.

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