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Researcher Instructions

Instructions for Researchers Using the Research Pool

The York College Research Pool is an undergraduate research pool comprised of students enrolled in the following introductory courses in the social and behavioral sciences in the fall and spring semesters; the pool is not operational during the summer and winter sessions:

  • Anthropology 101
  • Anthropology 220
  • Psychology 102
  • Sociology 101
  • Sociology 220
  • Social Work 101
  • Social Work 350
  • Social work 360


Conducting Research Using the York College Research Pool

Only projects approved both by the CUNY IRB  and the Research Pool Coordinator  may be posted on SONA. If you do not yet have CUNY IRB approval, please do not apply for use of the York College Research Pool until you have it. Please note that part of the IRB approval process is a stipulation of recruitment procedures. You must have IRB approval, not just for your study, but also to recruit from the York College campus prior to turning in an application for use of the York College Research Pool. Projects "pending" approval by the IRB will not be considered until approval is obtained. 

Turning in the Application

To apply for approval, email the Research Pool Coordinator with the following information and attach your CUNY IRB approval letter to the email:

Name of PI or Faculty Adviser:

Email address:

Phone number:

Name(s) of Additional Researcher(s) (including student(s)):

Email address(es):

Phone number(s):

Title of Study:

IRB protocol #:

IRB expiration date:

Online or In-person study:

Time required per participant:

Requested number of participants for the semester:

Participant restrictions (inclusion/exclusion criteria):

Approval may be requested at any time. However, approval is contingent upon participant availability. The needs of York College faculty researchers as well as participant demand are both taken into consideration prior to granting approval. During semesters where there is a high study-to-participant ratio, access to participants may be restricted to make sure all researchers have access to a fair share of the pool. Thus, it is best to apply prior to or at the beginning of a new semester! Please note that York College faculty and student researchers are given priority for approval.

The size of the participant pool begins to dwindle immediately after the beginning of the semester. Ethically, students have the right to participate in non-research alternative assignments, to which they will have access from the beginning of every semester. So, even if there are no research studies available, students will be able to earn the credits they need to gain full credit in their courses.

Approval is granted for one semester. A study that may run over the course of several semesters will need re-approval prior to the beginning of each new semester.

When you have turned in the application form, the Research Pool Coordinator will review your request and, if approved, will notify you how many participants you may run for your project that semester. Response time during the semester is typically within 48-72 hours. 

Research Pool Participant Requirement

Students in certain introductory-level courses in the social and behavioral sciences are required to devote approximately 4 hours of their time to participation in either research studies or research-related alternative assignments. They are allotted credits for their participation. The number of credits is based on the amount of time and effort involved in participating in a research study according to the following scheme. This scheme should be used when applying for IRB approval and York College Research Pool approval. The Research Pool Coordinator will review your point allotment to make sure it complies with the scheme below.

≤1 hour: 1 credit

>1 hour, ≤ 2 hours: 2 credits

>2 hours, ≤ 3 hours: 3 credits

>3 hours, ≤ 4 hours: 4 credits…

If a student must show up in-person to participate in a study, they are given one additional credit (in total) as compensation for time traveling to and from campus. Multiple visits are not given additional compensation.

If the study is a repeated-measures design (i.e., requires multiple sessions), to encourage retention, students may be allotted an additional credit for returning to complete their participation in all sessions of the study.

Here are some examples of how the above scheme should be applied:

  • A 10-minute online survey: 1 credit
  • A 90-minute online survey: 2 credits
  • A 2-hour in-person interview: 3 credits (2 for time, 1 for travel)
  • An online survey study that requires students to complete two separate 60-minute surveys separated by approximately one month: 3 credits (1 credit per hour + 1 additional credit for participating in both sessions)
  • An in-person study that requires 2 separate 90-minute on-campus sessions to complete an in-person experiment: 5 credits (3 for total time, 1 total for travel, 1 for retention). 

Research Pool Recruitment Policies and Procedures


The research pool system is managed via an online system called SONA.  This system allows you to post your study and/or schedule participants. In some instances (i.e., simple online surveys), it can collect data.

Once your study is approved, you will be assigned a username and password for PI and/or researcher account(s).

NOTE: If you are an instructor at York College in a Research Pool course, you will be given a separate account as a PI/researcher. You will not be able to use your instructor account to post your study on the SONA system. If you have difficulty logging into SONA, please feel free to contact the Research Pool Coordinator.

SONA login -

You should then post your study on the SONA system. The user manual for the SONA system is available at:

If you have difficulty posting your study, you may email SONA’s technical support team for help.

Note: if you are using SONA to collect survey data, please make sure you download your data from the system regularly. The system is cleared at the end of every semester, and the data the system collected for you will be deleted!

When participants sign up for your study, you will not see their names. Instead, you will see a participant ID code for each student who signs up. This is to protect the confidentiality of participants. However, if you need to contact participants for any reason (e.g., last minute emergency cancellation of a scheduled session), you may contact participants via email through the SONA system. You may also call participants via telephone. Participants are required to give contact information when they sign up for a study.

Credit Allotment Deadlines

After a student has participated in your study, please be sure to grant their earned credits in the SONA system within 48 hours of their participation. This is especially important towards the end of the semester.

The research pool will close one day prior to the last day of classes. By this date, all students should have completed their participation in any studies that are part of the research pool. The last day of classes is the absolute deadline for researchers to update all participant attendance/credit on SONA. This is vital to give instructors enough time to incorporate students’ credit information into their grade.

Session Cancellation

If you must cancel a session, be sure to inform the participants by email via SONA or by telephone.  Also, unless the participants confirm that they have received your email, please assume (especially in instances of last minute cancellations) that they have not received your email in time, and post a cancellation note on the door where study was scheduled to take place. If you are unable to do so, please contact the Research Pool Manager or campus security for assistance. 

In the event of cancellation by the researcher, participants should be allotted one credit for any inconvenience they may have incurred. 

No-Shows and Late Arrivals

Students may cancel their appointments up to 24 hours in advance of their appointment time through the system without penalty. Within 24 hours of an appointment time, students are instructed to contact researchers directly to cancel/reschedule or notify you that they are running late in advance of their appointment time, if possible. If students fail to show up for an appointment on time without a valid excuse (last-minute documentable emergency), please record their session as an “unexcused no-show” in the SONA system. Students who receive this allotment will be prevented from scheduling future appointments using SONA and will be limited to research-alternative assignments that cannot inconvenience researchers. This policy is important to prevent students from wasting the valuable time of researchers and staff, so we ask that you abide by it (at your discretion).

Participants who arrive late for an in-person session can be turned away at the discretion of the researcher. If that occurs, the participant should be allotted an “unexcused no-show.”

Ineligible Participants 

Students must be 18-years-old in order to provide informed consent for participation in a research study. Students who turn 18 years old in the middle of a semester may participate in research studies after their birthday. 

When you post your study on the SONA system, please use the Study Description section to clearly describe activities in which students will participate in the course of the study. This section should also be used to clearly indicate any restrictions on participant eligibility (i.e., exclusion criteria) to prevent students from being inconvenienced by showing up for a study for which they are not eligible, as well as to protect your own valuable time and resources. Students are clearly instructed to read all study descriptions thoroughly! If a student who is clearly not eligible for your study based on your description on the SONA system attempts to enroll, please do not grant the student any credit unless it becomes clear to you that your study description was insufficient or misleading. If you determine that your study description was insufficient for the student to determine whether s/he was eligible for your study, you may compensate the student for their time and travel using the credit scheme described above.

Compensation in the Case of Withdrawal from Research

As per ethical guidelines and CUNY IRB policy, participation in research is always voluntary. Research participants have the right to withdraw from research at any time for any reason without penalty. If this occurs, participants should be compensated for the time and effort they allotted to the study. If a participant withdraws after participating for one hour in an in-person study, they should be allotted 2 credits even though they did not provide a complete set of data.

Participants who appear to be providing corrupt data intentionally should be withdrawn from the study by the researcher (i.e., the researcher may end the session) with an explanation of the reason and be compensated for the time they devoted to the study including travel to and from campus. 

Restrictions on Participant Recruitment

SONA is the only approved means of recruiting participants from the York College Research Pool. SONA credits are the only form of compensation permitted for studies recruiting from the Research Pool.

Students who sign up for your study using the SONA system should be compensated with SONA credits only. For students to get Research Pool credit for participation in research, they must obtain SONA credits; no other means of compensation is acceptable. In addition, students who have received SONA credits for participation may not receive any additional (e.g., monetary) compensation.

If you are offering other forms of compensation as part of your recruitment methods, it is acceptable to give the student a choice regarding which form of compensation s/he prefers, but only one form of compensation should be provided and only SONA credits will count towards their research participation requirement as part of their course! Multiple forms of compensation are not permitted as this gives studies with funding for participant compensation an unfair advantage in the Research Pool.

Instructors are not permitted to recruit for specific studies. Instructors are encouraged only to announce the research pool requirement in class and remind their students that participation is necessary to gain full course credit.

Researchers Teaching a Research Pool Associated Course

If you have received IRB approval with the stipulation that you will not use your own students, then you must take steps to assure that your students do not end up in one of your experimental sessions.

The easiest way to assure that this does not happen is to include the restriction that students currently enrolled in your course are unable to participate under participant restrictions in the SONA description.

A Statement Regarding Community Building

Please be sensitive to the needs and concerns of study participants. Even though participation in the undergraduate research pool is mandatory, and is an important source of data for faculty research, this is only ethical as long as the process is a positive learning opportunity for our students! We ask that you think of participant recruitment, not only as an opportunity to gather data but also as an opportunity to build trust between researchers and the communities in which we work. For most of our students, this will be their first experience in any research setting, and, as such, will be an excellent opportunity for education regarding the nature and importance of scientific research. How we treat them has the potential to make a dramatic impact on their future decisions to participate in science as either subjects or researchers! It is our hope that this opportunity can be an important part of building a stronger relationship between the research community and the public!

Contact Information

Research Pool Coordinator

Dr. David Johnson, Behavioral Sciences

Research Pool Manager

Ms. Karen Manifold, Behavior Sciences

Research Pool Committee

Dr. Olga Berwid, Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Deborah Majerovitz, Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Gila Acker, Social Work