Introduction

In short: Using SONA allows you to make sure you get many participants. And the participants get their study credits for participating.

SONA Systems is a company that helps universities with participant management in studies.

According to their website, they serve "all of the top 50 universities in the US and top 10 in Canada, as well as 75% of the world’s top business schools, and all of the Australian Go8 and the UK’s RAE 2008 4-star and 3-star ranked universities."

It is very easy to combine PsyToolkit and SONA.

STEP 1: Settings

You only need to do this once. In PsyToolkit settings, select the "Advanced" settings.

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This will show you additional options when editing experiments and surveys, including a special button for the SONA system.

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STEP 2: Create your PsyToolkit survey

Just as usual, compile your survey. You know that you get a URL. But that is not exactly the URL you need, you would need to add some information.

Because this can easily go wrong, PsyToolkit makes it easy for you: You can simply press the button "Give me the SONA study URL". Then a little popup with the correct URL shows up. Copy that for use later in STEP 4.

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Use PsyToolkit and SONA in different tabs of your browser, then it is easy to copy and paste information between the two systems.

STEP 3: Make sure you have a SONA account

You can only run a study through SONA if you have a SONA account. Typically, your university will have a person responsible for SONA. Ask that person if you are allowed to add a new study (that is called a "researcher account", or something like that). Check it out with that person in your department, they will know.

In the screenshot, you see what a research account in SONA looks like. Of course, this screenshot is how it looks like at one specific university. At your university, it will have the logo and name of your university.

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STEP 4: Setup a SONA study

Select "Add New Study" and select the "Online External Study". You can choose the option "Credit" (unless you have the means to pay your participants).

When you go on a few screens, you need to give the "Study URL (optional)". This is where you enter simply the PsyToolkit survey URL (STEP 1).

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STEP 5: Enter the SONA URL on PsyToolkit

Under the Study Information of your new SONA study, you will see somewhere the "Completion URLs". Copy the top one and pasted it in your PsyToolkit SONA box (indicated by arrow in screenshot below).

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The PsyToolkit SONA box can be reached as follows. First go to your PsyToolkit survey, scroll down, and find a button with "SONA information".

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Click that and you get a pop up where you can enter the SONA URL.

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When you click OK, the correct URL will be entered.

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PsyToolkit processes the SONA URL in accordance to the instructions from SONA. PsyToolkit with also fill in two other fields. You could do this by hand, but this way you do not need to worry about the details.

STEP 6: Save and compile

Now save your PsyToolkit survey and compile it.

STEP 7: Run your survey

Once your SONA study has been approved, people will be able to find it via the SONA website. Do not send your PsyToolkit URL to participants, they have to go through the SONA website to get credits.

How does it work?

This is only for those who want to know the technology behind it.

Basically, PsyToolkit simply gets a special internet variable called survey_code from SONA. Later, this code is sent back as well as information that the survey has been completed. So the participants go from the SONA to the PsyToolkit webpage, but they do not necessarily notice that.