Instructor Instructions

Instructions for instructors of courses requiring the research pool requirement.

The York College Research Pool

We believe that empirical research is an integral part of many disciplines in the social sciences and that students in certain courses should be exposed – experientially – to several instances of empirical research. By participating in research, we hope students will understand research methods better, learn about how research is actually done and will perhaps be inspired to conduct research during their undergraduate career.

Thank you!

Thank you for your participation in the research pool.  We hope that, besides providing a source for experimental participation for both students and faculty, the research pool will help expose our students – experientially – to research in the social and behavioral sciences.

Your responsibilities regarding the research pool will consist of informing your students of the requirement and applying student’s research pool participation credits to their grade in your course. 

The research pool requirement

Each student is required to complete a given number of research credits in order to receive full class credit (see next below).  This number varies semester to semester but will be set within a semester and listed on SONA. 

Participation in different studies earns students different amounts of credit based on the time and effort involved. Students can see this information before they sign up for a study.  At the any point of the semester, you will be able to logon to SONA and see each student’s progress.

For Psychology 102 students, 10% of their course grade should be based upon their research pool participation.  Credit should be given all or none, 10% for completing the required number of credits and 0% for completing any amount less than the requirement.

For students taking research pool courses in social work or the social sciences, 5% of their course grade should be based upon their research pool participation.  Credit should be given all or none, 5% for completing the required number of credits and 0% for completing any amount less than the requirement.

After much discussion, the research pool committee arrived at this schema and these percentages.  All instructors must follow this requirement.  In general, the committee recommends that instructors grade with an all-or-nothing approach, students who do not participate receive 0%, while those who participate receive a full 10% (or 5%) for just participating. 

For example, I grade on a 100 point scale for a course:

Exam #1                                     15 points

Exam #2                                     15

Exam #3                                     15

Exam #4                                     15

Article Review#1                       10

Article Review#2                       10

Class Participation                    10

Research pool participation      10

We require that instructors follow this scheme and do not make changes.  Do not make the research pool optional, make it extra credit, or other alterations (such as dropping the lowest exam score if the student completed the research pool). 

Just imagine what would happen if we did not require this uniformity.  For example, student my “shop” different courses or sections of courses for what they think is the easiest requirement; or students across sections may compare their research pool requirements with the end results of some students feeling unfairly treated.  This may negatively affect an instructor’s course evaluations.


The research pool system is managed via an online system called SONA.  You will be contacted by email by SONA with your userid and password.  At anytime during the semester, you can logon and check the progress of your students.  If you have not received your userid and password by the first week of classes, please contact the manager.

SONA login -

End of Semester Concerns

The research pool will initially close two days before the last day of classes.  Researchers must have their attendance/credit information entered into SONA by the day before the last day of classes. Thus, you can check SONA for the final credit information after the last day of classes.

Students enrolled in more than one research pool course.

Often, a student will be enrolled in two research pool courses. For example, a student may be taking both Introductory Psychology and research Methods in Sociology. Regardless of the number of research pool courses taken in the same semester, the student is required to do only two experiments. Students in this situation should – when registering on SONA – click both courses.

Announcing the research pool requirement

Experience has taught us that the course instructor clearly announcing the research pool requirement is critical in the research pool to run smoothly. 

The most effective way to introduce your students is to send them to the research pool webpage.  I usually tell students to type, “research pool,” into the York webpage search box.

Please be aware that we close the creation of new accounts on SONA one month before the end of the pool.  If a student does not have an account at that time, they cannot get one and cannot participate.  It is important to stress this to students early in the semester.

The following is a standardized description which you can include in your course syllabus:

The research pool provides students in specified courses in Psychology, Social Work, Sociology and Anthropology an opportunity to take part in actual research studies in the disciplines by making participation a class requirement.

Your participation in the research pool program is mandatory and is worth [10% for psych or 5% for Social Sciences] of your grade. Your participation has the potential to increase your course average or decrease it significantly.

More information is available on the website at

Please read the information on the website before signing up for SONA.

•   Make sure you register for the correct course section!

•   Each student is required to reach a goal for research credits in order to receive full class credit. This research credit goal varies each semester. The number for your current semester is listed on SONA.

•   To receive your course credit you must meet this research credit goal. You will not be given partial credit for research credits below the goal nor will you receive extra credit for earning more than the goal.

•   Earning research credits is described in the Student Instructions on the website. Please read that carefully.

•   If you do not wish to participate in a research study, you may also fulfill the requirement by doing non-research alternative assignments – which are comparable in content and time and effort with the research studies.

•   More information is available on the website.

•   Questions about research pool website problems may be directed to Ms. Karen Manifold at

Important Dates

•   The research pool will open within the first week of the semester.

•   The last day for students to create accounts is October 31st (fall semester) and April 1st (spring semester).

•   If you have not created an account by this date, you will be unable to earn research credit!

•   The last day for studies to be run is two days before the last day of classes.

 SONA Registration

Students can register for a SONA account beginning approximately the first week of the semester (the opening of the pool will be announced by email) and for two months after that.  After two months registration is closed.  Students will not be able to register for SONA and thus cannot participate in studies.  This deadline is being enforced due to the large numbers of students registering on SONA and seeking studies during the final week of the semester.

Alternative research pool projects

Students are freely able to choose to not participate in research studies. We have provided several non-research alternative assignments which are comparable in educational benefit and time and effort to our research studies. The student instructions clearly describe how a student can do these assignments. Credits, for both research and non-research alternatives, are reported the same way on SONA.

Restrictions on Participant Recruitment

Researchers are not permitted to post other posters or signs, to make other announcements nor to use any other recruitment procedures to recruit research pool participants.  Of course, researchers who have received approval from the York IRB may use other (IRB approved) recruitment methods on-campus to recruit individuals from other participant populations.

Instructors are not permitted to announce that specific studies need participants, nor should they refer to any specific studies.  Instructors are encouraged to announce the research pool requirement in class. Regardless, recruiting for a specific experiment by anyone is not permitted. 

Research pool coordinator

Dr William Ashton, Behavioral Sciences (4D-06) 262-2699

Research pool manager

Ms Karen Manifold, Behavior Sciences(4D-06)

262-2800 4F-016

Research pool committee

Dr William Ashton, Political Science & Psychology

Dr William Divale, Social Science

Dr Deborah Majerovitz, Political Science & Psychology