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FAQ and Information Guide about Sona Systems


The Experiment Management System provides an easy method for you to sign up for studies, and track your progress throughout the term. Everything is done through the software's web-based interface, so you can access the system at any time, from any computer, with a standard web browser.

Getting Started

Your interaction with the system will be minimal and hopefully as painless as possible. After you log in to the system at, you can view a list of available studies and any restrictions, sign up for studies that interest you, and track your progress throughout the quarter. The system will track when you receive credits for a study, so you can view this online as well.

The system works best if you use any popular web browser that is less than 2 years old, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. It will work with other web browsers, and with older versions of popular web browsers, however the layout may not be as clean. No functionality will be lost by using an older web browser. The software will work if you are using a screen reader or other tools for those hard of hearing or sight.

This documentation assumes you have a basic knowledge of how to use the web. On this system, it is not necessary to use the Back button. You can always use the toolbar on the top of every screen to navigate anywhere on the site.

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Request an Account

You will see a link to request an account on the front page of the system site at You will be required to provide some very basic information and must use your CWU Email Account as your user ID. You will receive an email notification with your login information and instructions shortly after requesting your account. You will be assigned a password, which you can change after your first login. In many cases, you may also provide an alternate email address (after your first login).

The login email will come from the administrator's email address (listed on the request account page), so be sure to configure your junk mail filters to allow email from that address. If you did not receive your login information, check your email program's junk mail folder before contacting the administrator. The most common reason for not receiving login information is that an email program misclassified the email as junk mail.

Logging In

Once you have your login information, go to the front page of the site and enter your user ID and password to login. Your login (also known as a session) will expire after a certain period of inactivity, usually 20 minutes. This is done for security purposes. If this happens, you can always log in again. When you are done using the system, it is better to explicitly log out, to prevent any problems that may arise if someone uses your computer before the session expires. This is especially important if you are using a public computer lab.

Retrieving a Lost Password

If you have forgotten or do not have your password, you may choose to have your password emailed to you. You will see an option on the front login page to request your login. Your password will be emailed after you submit the form, and should arrive in your email box momentarily. If you provided an alternate email address it will be sent there.

Logging Out

When you are done using the system, choose Log Out from the toolbar on the left side to log out. You are now logged out. It is always a good security measure to close all your browser windows as well, especially if you are using a computer that is shared by others.

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There are certain events in the system which will cause an email notification to be sent to you. Most often, these are notifications that you have received credit for a study, or a confirmation that you have signed up for a study. Your email address is also displayed to the researcher when they view who has signed up for their study, in the event they need to contact you. You have two choices for your email address. When you update your profile, you will see a box where you may provide an alternate email address. If you provide such an address (this could be a Hotmail account, for instance), this is the address where any notifications will be sent, and this is also the address that will be displayed to researchers.


With the system, you may view studies and sign up for those that interest you and where you meet any special eligibility restrictions. You may cancel your sign-up through the system as well. You may see some studies that are online studies. You should read the details of these studies closely, but generally you may participate in them online. YOU MUST PARTICIPATE IN ONLINE STUDIES AS SOON AS YOU SIGN-UP FOR THEM.

Updating your Profile

If you would like to change your password or other information about yourself, choose My Profile from the top toolbar. If you would like to change your password, type your new password (twice, for confirmation) in the provided boxes. If you would not like to change your password, simply leave these boxes empty. If you change your password, please be sure to select a password you do not use on any other systems or websites. This is good computing practice, and especially important as in some cases, your password may be sent over email.

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Two-Part Studies

Some studies are two-part studies, where you must sign up for both parts of the study at once, and the two parts must be scheduled a certain number of days apart. These studies will be clearly marked.

Online Survey Studies

Some studies may be online survey studies that are administered in the system. If you sign up for one of these studies, you will be taken immediately to the survey. As soon as you complete the survey, you will receive credit. You may withdraw from the survey at any time, by clicking the Withdraw button on the top right corner of the screen. 

Some restrictions are automatically enforced by the system. If the study has certain pre-requisites or disqualifiers (studies you must not have participated in to participate in this study), those will be listed, as well as a note about whether you meet those eligibility requirements.

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Viewing Studies

To view a list of studies, click on Studies from top toolbar. You will see a list of studies. A brief description of each study will be listed, as well as any special requirements that may restrict your eligibility to participate in the study. Studies that currently have available participation times (timeslots) will have "TIMESLOTS AVAILABLE" listed next to the name of the study. If no studies have available timeslots, you may want to logon to the system a few days later to see if new timeslots have been added. You may also select a specific date to view studies with available timeslots on that date.

Signing Up for Studies

To sign up to participate in a study, find the study you would like to participate in (see Viewing Studies in this documentation). Click on the study name for more information. You will see a list of any special restrictions or eligibility requirements, as well as a contact person if you have questions about the study.

The study may have other restrictions listed as Eligibility Requirements. An example of an eligibility requirement is "Left-handed people only." If listed, then the system does not enforce this restriction, but you should only sign up for the study if you meet this restriction. If you sign up for the study and you do not meet the restrictions, you will likely not receive credit for the study, and could face a penalty. If the study is not an online study, then the sign-up and cancellation deadlines for the study will be listed, and those are based on the date of each timeslot.

Some studies require a special password (known as an Invitation Code) to sign up. If this is the case, it will be noted. The researcher should have given you this invitation code. You will need to enter the invitation code just before you click the Sign Up button to sign up for a timeslot.

You may only sign up for a timeslot up until a certain time before that timeslot is scheduled to occur. The system will not show a Sign Up button for timeslots where it is too late to sign up. If you sign up for a timeslot and you already have another sign up in the system that conflicts with that appointment time, the system will warn you of the scheduling conflict (though it will not prevent the sign-up).

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Cancelling a Sign-Up

If you need to cancel a timeslot you have signed up for, you can do this from the My Schedule and Credits page.

Choose the My Schedule/Credits option from top toolbar. You will see listed all the studies you have signed up for, as well as those you have completed (see the Tracking Your Progress section of this documentation for more information). Studies you have signed up for that you are allowed to cancel will have a Cancel button next to them.

There is a time limit before the study is to occur when it is too late to cancel. This restriction may be listed at the bottom of the page or can be found by clicking on the study name and viewing the study details.


Once you have determined you meet all the requirements, click on View Timeslots for This Study and you will see a list of available timeslots. Choose a timeslot that is convenient for you, and click Sign Up.

After you click Sign Up, you will see information displayed confirming the time and location of the study you plan to participate in. You may receive an email confirmation as well, depending on how your system is configured. You are now signed up for the study. To cancel your sign-up, see Canceling a Sign-Up in this documentation. Once you click Cancel to cancel your sign-up, you will see a confirmation page. You will also be warned if your cancellation might affect your ability to participate in other studies you have signed up for, due to pre-requisite restrictions. If the cancellation will affect your ability to participate in another study you are signed up for, it is your responsibility to deal with this issue (usually by canceling the depending study as well).

Click Yes to cancel your sign-up, and the sign-up will be cancelled immediately. If you cancel the first part of a two-part study, the second part will also be cancelled. If you cancel the second part of a two-part study, the first part will not be cancelled, but you will need to ask the researcher to sign you up for the second part again, if you would like to participate in it at a later date.

If you failed to appear for a study, that information will be tracked by the system and displayed in your progress. If you fail to appear for two studies during a term, your userId will be blocked from the system for that quarter and you must complete the alternative assignment for research participation in your course. In cases where the study was set up for monetary compensation and not credits, your participation will be noted as "participated." This is done to ensure your eligibility for any studies where the study you just completed is a pre-requisite study.

Non-study credit is also listed, when applicable. Non-study credit is usually granted for some other special situation. It is possible that older records of your participation are in the system, but not displayed. If that is the case, you'll see an option to view the older records as well.

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Reassigning Credits

If you belong to multiple courses, you may reassign a credit from one course to another. To do this, simple use the Reassign link that appears when you view your progress. The link appears under the course entry for each item in your progress listing. You may not split a credit between two courses, for example by assigning 2 credits of a 3-credit study to one course, and 1 credit from that study to another course.

Frequently Asked Questions

I participated in a study, but I have yet to receive credit. How do I receive credit?

I wrote a paper instead of participating in studies. How do I know I have completed my requirements?

I noticed that with some studies, I can sign up for them again even if I participated before, while others don't allow for this. Why is this?

Immediately after I login, as soon as I click on any menu option, I am taken back to the login page and I see a message that my authentication has expired. What does this mean?

  • Your web browser is not properly configured to accept cookies. You should turn on cookies in your web browser, use a different web browser (for example, try Firefox if you are currently using Internet Explorer), or try a different computer. Detailed instructions can be found if you go to the site and enter the url "cookie_help.asp" in place of "default.asp" in the address bar of the browser, when you are on the front page of the site.Another easy thing to try is simply to use another computer. Usually the computers in university computer labs are configured correctly.The researcher must grant you credit. This is usually done shortly after your participation. If it has been some time and you have still not received credit, contact the researcher.Ask your professor to verify you fulfilled all your research credits for the course.

Researchers can choose if their studies allow you to participate more than once. Not all studies allow you to participate more than once.

Tracking your Progress

You may track your progress at any time by choosing the My Schedule/Credits option from the top toolbar. When you view this page, you will see at the top a list of the number of credits you are required to earn, and how many you have earned so far. You may also have an option to view how many credits you have earned for each course. Below that, if you have signed up for any studies, those are listed as well. In the list of studies, you will see information about your credit status.

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