SONA – Participant Recruitment Step by Step – Online Interviews

SONA is an online platform that is used to advertise and recruit participants for your research. This webpage is intended as a guide. As a researcher, it is your responsibility to ensure your research is in accordance with your ethical approval.

Getting your “Researcher” account

  • You will only be able to use SONA for participant recruitment if you include this information in your ethics application.
  • Researcher accounts can only be issued by the system administrator
  • This is so no students can start advertising their studies before receiving ethical approval.
  • Once you’ve received your ethical approval, you need to email this to the system admins, (psytech@salford.ac.uk) and an account will be created for you.

Logging in

You can log in to SONA by visiting https://salford-psychology.sona-systems.com/ and clicking ‘University of Salford Log In’.

You will be prompted to log in to your Microsoft account if you are not already logged in.


The Researcher Home Page

  • The home page, unsurprisingly, is a hub containing links to everything you will need to run your study.
  • You can alter your personal information, change your password, create and manage your studies from the links presented here.

Uploading your study

  • To create your study, click the ‘create a new study’ link.
  • You will then be presented with 4 options for the type of study you are conducting. For online interviews, you will need the Standard Study Type

Standard Study

Study’payment’

  • You’ll probably of noticed that with each study type comes two options:
  • You will want to use the ‘credit’ option (as shown above) – This allows the system to grant research credits to participants in recompense for their participation.

Study Information

  • Once you’ve selected the appropriate study type and selected ‘continue’, you will be presented with a page for inputting your study information.
  • From here, you can save your progress at any time using the ‘Add this Study’ button at the bottom of the page – Don’t worry, this doesn’t make your incomplete study available to participants
  • What you enter into this page will depend on your study, but there are a few key fields to ensure you’ve completed correctly.

Payments

  • The system for credit rewards is as follows:
  • 1 credit can be awarded for each 20 minutes, or part thereof, of participation.
  • A 20-minute study is worth 1 credit, a 25 minute study (20 + part) is worth 2.
  • Studies that require participants to attend at a particular place and time (i.e. face to face) can award 1 extra credit.

Codes

  • You will be asked to fill in a CRGEC approval code and expiration date.
  • These relate to your ethics application.
  • The CRGEC code is the code that designates your ethics application and will be available on your approval email- usually referred to as your Application ID.
  • The CRGEC approval expiration is an ethical safety feature in SONA.
  • It ensures you can’t collect data once your ethics approvals have expired.
  • Except, at Salford, we don’t get ethics expiration dates.
  • So, you need to fill this in with a sensible date that represents a point by which you will of collected all your data (such as your dissertation deadline).
  • The last two fields in the basic options for SONA are ‘approved?’ and ‘active study’.
  • Both of these need to be set to yes for your study to appear to participants.
  • If you want to keep working on your setup, simply leave one of these fields set to no when you save.

Study URL

The majority of online interviews at the university are conducted using Microsoft Teams (MS Teams; https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-teams/log-in). Which you must access using your university email address.

We suggest using the “Meet now” functionality of MS Teams to conduct your interviews. Copy and Paste the “Get a link to share” from MS Teams into the Study URL in SONA.

Notifications

Highly recommend selecting to receive email notifications about sign-ups and cancellations.

Timeslots

  • One last thing has to be done for your study to appear to participants on the SONA system, which is adding timeslots for participation.
  • First, select ‘view, add or edit timeslots’ from your researcher homepage (or alternately from the study menu dropdown on the study page).
  • Click Add Multiple Timeslots
  • We specify;
  • The number of timeslots to add
  • Date and start time of timeslots
  • Any free time we want between testing sessions
  • Optional – Business hours (limits timeslots within these hours)
  • The number of participants that can attend one timeslot – utilise this for focus groups
  • The location of testing – You will be using the same URL as in the Study URL section.

Accessing the interview

Your participants will get access to the Study URL 10 minuets before the interveiew is scheduled to start. What you need to do is to start the meeting by pressing the “Start meeting” in MS teams.

How to contact participants

SONA is a completely anonymous system. However, you can contact your participants in bulk if you need to. You can access the “Contact Participants” option from the “Study Menu”. Any communication from this function will be sent through the SONA system, therefore you will need to include any contact details if you’d like a response.


Credit Rewards

Ensure that you collect your participant’s SONA IDs so you can verify participation.

  • Once participants have completed your study, you’ll need to tell SONA to reward the credit.
  • With online questionnaire studies, you will need to ask for the SONA participation code of the participant within the survey, and then match this with the list of people signed up to complete your study in SONA.
  • To reward credits, use the ‘View uncredited timeslots’ button on the researcher home page.
  • You’ll be presented with a list of the timeslots that have passed (lab studies) or a list of the participants signed up to complete your study (online studies).
  • To the right will be 3 options:
  • Participated – Use this to award credit for participation
  • Excused no-show – Didn’t participate but for acceptable reasons
  • Unexcused no-show – Didn’t participate.
  • (If participants in SONA receive 2 unexcused no-shows they will be locked out of the system to stop them wasting peoples time, so use this option responsibly).

Have I done it right?

To double-check your SONA advertisement looks and functions as you intended then you can log in as a participant and sign up for your own study – or get a coursemate to do it.

At PsyTech, we very much recommend testing your experiment all the way through to ensure you get the data out of the experiment that you will need to take on for analysis.

I need to record my interviews

You will record the interviews by the method you stated in your ethics application. There are three common ways of doing this. 1) Screencast-o-matic, 2) OBS, 3) from within Microsoft Teams.

  1. For details on how to install Screencast-o-matic please email PsyTech@salford.ac.uk
  2. OBS can be downloaded from: https://obsproject.com/download; https://obsproject.com/wiki/OBS-Studio-Quickstart
  3. Recording is built into MS Teams, see below.

Closing your advert

  • Once you’ve finished collecting data, you will need to close your survey (unless the maximum number of participants has been reached).
  • You can do this one of several ways:
  • Set ‘active study?’ or ‘approved?’ fields in study information to no.
  • Ensure no timeslots are available.
  • Set closing date to the current time/date.