Adults via SONA

How we recruit Penn students via the SONA system

What is SONA?

SONA is a Penn wide online system that research labs use to recruit participants. Many classes give the option for students to participate in research for credit (usually introductory level psychology courses). We as a lab post our experiment and students from these classes can choose to sign up for them. It is an easy and effective way to recruit students for our studies!

Each experimenter must have their own SONA account. Once an account is set up, it will be preserved for that researcher across semesters.

Getting Started

Step 1: Request SONA account

Email Claire Ingulli or Delphine Dahan at with the following information:

  • your full name

  • your desired user-name

  • email address you wish to use with the SONA system

  • Information regarding your connection with the Psychology department

    • I am working for Dr. Kathryn Schuler’s Child Language and Learning Lab under the University of Pennsylvania’s Linguistics Department.

  • Supervisor/P.I. Information:

Step 2: Set up the experiment

Once you have your account set up you will have to set up the experiment. Press on add new study

The following screen will show up:

Your choice here depends on the kind of study that you are conducting. We usually just run standard studies, i.e. studies that are conducted in lab and participants have to come in only once. However you may be working on a multi-part study (requires the participant coming into the lab multiple times) or an online study—in which case you should pick the appropriate selection.

  • Katie has this information under IRB Protocols (See bullet point below). This is basic study information that will be available to participants. This can be found under “IRB Protocols” in Basecamp.

    • Go to Lab HQ → Docs and Files → IRB Protocols

    • More detailed info: We want to provide as much information to participants as possible without revealing things we shouldn’t! In order to not influence the participants we often do not reveal exactly what our study is about until after the study is over. Therefore in the case that you have to fill in this section on your own you should talk with Katie. Likewise we are not allowed to make the study seem more “fun” or “easy” than other studies that will be posted on SONA. Therefore the Study Name and Study Description should be a very standard and accurate description and should never use words like “fun” “cool” “easy” etc.

  1. Write study name.

  2. List all eligibility requirements here. Usually we are looking for native English speakers with normal or corrected-to-normal vision. However this is study specific (see IRB Protocols document).

  3. List the duration of the study here. You should include time spent within the lab (including briefing and debriefing) along with an extra 20 minutes (10 minutes allotted for participant to walk over to the lab and 10 minutes for the participant to walk back home). These extra 20 minutes should be assigned only to studies that are done within the lab. Round the time that you enter into this box to the nearest quarter hour.

  4. Assign credit based on the time that you entered in #3. This should be 0.25 credits for every quarter hour (15 minutes).

5. List all the researchers that will be conducting the study. I believe this pertains only to undergraduates.

6. Under the drop down menu find Kathryn Schuler.

7. Type in the IRB approval code (see IRB protocols page).

8. Type in the IRB approval expiration date (see IRB Protocols page).

9. For your purposes the study will most likely be an active one. Press “yes”.

The rest of the pages are advanced settings which you may or may not want to use for your study. Discuss with Katie.

Since our studies deal with language we sometimes do not want participants who are enrolled in linguistic courses/are linguistics majors because they might be able to infer what we are exactly testing from the experiment design itself! If this is the case then under course restrictions we can choose all courses that are not linguistics courses so that only students in these specific courses can sign up. Discuss with Katie whether you want to do this or not.

If you did not fill out anything in the Advanced Settings you can just press the first Add This Study button once you have filled everything out. If you did fill out anything in Advanced Settings then press the second Add This Study button.

Step 3: Experiment approval

After you have done this you have to “send an approval request”

  1. Press on “My Studies”

  2. Click on the study that you want approved

3. Under Study Status press on the blue send request box

Follow the instructions on the screen.

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