Participant Pool Guide for Researchers

Step-by-Step Guide to Using the Psychology Participant Pool

All Introduction to Psychology students must complete 3 credits of research learning. One way for them to earn credits is through participating in research through the Psychology Participant Pool.

Participants will be granted one research credit for each half hour of participation (0-30 minutes = 1 credit, 31-60 minutes = 2 credits, 61-90 minutes = 3 credits).

Utilizing the Participant Pool provides several advantages for researchers. A broader range of participants is available. Utilizing strangers as participants helps researchers maintain a professional distance that can improve data collection. Participants can be selected based on desired criteria. One of the major benefits of the Experiment Management System is that it allows researchers to prescreen participants based on demographic information. For example, a researcher could select urban women for specific appointments, rural men for other appointments.

Researchers who would like to utilize the Participant Pool must follow these steps. Only researchers complying with these rules and granted access to the Participant Pool may distribute research credits for Introduction to Psychology.

I.        Read all these rules and guidelines carefully.

II.     Obtain Human Experimentation Review Board (HERB) approval. All research projects utilizing the Participant Pool must be found to meet ethical considerations for human participants. Information on the review board and the HERB application can be found at the following website:

The HERB site is linked to the Psychology Department website. Allow time for the HERB committee to review your application. (See the different forms of review. More extensive reviews require more time.)

III.   Meet with Dr. Wagner, who will discuss setting up your study on the Experiment Management System and scheduling space for your research. (There are several space options in the Psychology Laboratory, Parker Hall B5. Classrooms can often be scheduled for research.)

Bring the following information to your meeting with Dr. Wagner:

  • Title of study for participants to see (should be relevant, but should not reveal information that might influence participants, less specific is often better)
  • HERB Project number (from your approval letter)
  • Estimated total duration of each session of your study (participants are allowed to be up to 5 minutes late, consider how long the informed consent process is predicted to take, then the length of your study, and then debriefing about the purpose of your study)--estimate whether your study will take less than 30 min., 31-60 min, or 61-90 min.
  • Number of sessions required to complete your study
  • Goal number of participants (minimum to complete your study and number desired)
  • Whether you want to select or exclude participants based on any of the following demographic variables (age, year in school, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, height, weight, description of hometown in terms of rural to urban and size, English as first language, right handedness, visual acuity, romantic relationship status, resident or commuter, student-athlete, food restrictions, frequency of using social media)

For information on how to use the Experiment Management System, see the link to the Experiment Management System Tutorial for Researchers, on the Participant Pool page of the Psychology Department’s website.

IV.              Appropriate researcher conduct.

A.     For each session of your study, arrive at least five minutes before your research time is scheduled to begin.

B.     When interacting with participants, be polite while keeping a professional distance.

C.     A consent process approved by HERB must be used with every study. Participants must receive a copy of the consent form at the beginning of the study. The researcher must keep a signed copy of the consent form.

D.    Respect participant confidentiality. Do not share information about individual behavior of participants with others. Keep all information about each participant in the strictest confidence.

E.     Never pressure a participant to complete your study. A participant may leave any study at any time without penalty. (Grant research credits based on the length of time the participant remained in your study.)

F.      At the end of the session, take time to discuss the purpose of the study with the participants. Answer any questions they pose. Thank them for their participation.

G.    For each participant, grant the appropriate number of research credits based on the length of time the participant engaged in your study. 0-30 minutes = 1 credit 31-60 minutes = 2 credits 61-90 minutes = 3 credits

V.     Solving problems.

A.     Wait five minutes beyond the scheduled time for each participant. If a participant is more than five minutes late or fails to arrive for the study, check whether the participant canceled the study through the Experiment Management System. Indicate on the system whether the participant had an excused absence or an unexcused absence.

B.     If a researcher fails to arrive for a study or arrives five or more minutes late for a study, the participant will receive one credit for arriving for the study.  Researchers must cancel appointments in order to avoid receiving a researcher no-show. A researcher who receives three or more researcher no-shows (across three or more scheduled times and two or more days) may be denied further access to the Participant Pool.

C.     The researcher may attempt to reschedule by emailing the participants.

D.    Researchers may contact participants prior to the study to remind them of the appointment.

E.     Failure to comply with any of the guidelines for using the Participant Pool may result in denial of access to the Participant Pool.

VI.      Protecting participants.

A.     Signed consent forms should be stored for a period of three years. After that time they may be destroyed. (Dr. Amy Eshleman will store consent forms for any researcher who has been approved to use the Participant Pool.)

B.     To preserve participant confidentiality, any information that could be used to identify the participant as an individual must be destroyed at the earliest possible time.

1.      Consent forms must be stored separately from data.

2.      Signifying information may only be used to associate pieces of data across testing sessions. Data must be consolidated as quickly as possible and all signifying information must be destroyed.