The York College Research Pool
Empirical research is an integral part of many disciplines in the social sciences. In light of this, we believe that students in certain courses should be exposed, experientially, to several instances of empirical research. By participating in research and/or research-related alternative activities, we hope students will understand research methods better, learn about how research is conducted and will perhaps be inspired to conduct research during their undergraduate career.
Thank you for your participation in the Research Pool. Instructors in undergraduate courses play a vital role in facilitating this experience for students, as well as research taking place on campus by informing students of the requirement to participate in these activities and applying students’ research pool participation credits to their grade in your courses.
The Research Pool Requirement
Each student is required to complete 4 research credits before the end of the semester to receive full credit for completion. These credits can be earned by participating in activities listed on the online Research Pool Management system, SONA. These activities consist of both IRB-approved research studies taking place here on campus and research-related alternative activities. Please thoroughly read the Student Instructions page for important detailed information regarding each type of activity, the specific instructions for student completion of the requirement, and the rights of students participating in research. It is vital that you have a full understanding of the requirement in order to accurately convey this information to students in your courses.
Psychology 102 Students
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 4 credits and 0% for completing any amount less than 4 credits.
Students Taking Research Pool Courses in Social Work or the Social Sciences
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 4 credits and 0% for completing any amount less than 4 credits.
After much discussion, the research pool committee arrived at this schema and these percentages. All instructors must follow this requirement. In general, the committee has determined that instructors must 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.
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). From an ethical standpoint, this scheme must be uniform across all course sections to ensure that it is fairly applied to all students.
Students Enrolled in More Than One Research Pool Course
Students may be enrolled in two or more 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 simultaneously, the student is required to obtain 4 credits. Students in this situation should, when registering on SONA, click both courses. However, this only applies to situation where courses are taken concurrently. Students may not apply Research Pool credits from a prior semester to a course credit in the current semester.
Announcing the Research Pool Requirement in Classes
Experience has taught us that the course instructor clearly announcing the Research Pool requirement is critical for the research pool to run smoothly.
The most effective way to introduce your students to the requirement is to send them to the Research Pool Student Instructions webpage. You may either include a link in a .pdf document of your syllabus, and/or tell your students search "Research Pool Student Instructions" from the York College Homepage.
The following is a standardized description which you should 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 Psychology or 5% for Social Sciences] of your grade. Your participation has the potential to increase your course average or decrease it significantly!
Information regarding how to complete your participation and all applicable deadlines is available on the website at
Please read the information on the website THOROUGHLY as soon as possible (i.e., today!) and follow the instructions provided.
SONA Registration for Instructors
The Research Pool system is managed via an online system called SONA. The Research Pool Manager will create an account for you on SONA. When this is done, SONA will automatically email you with your login information. At any point during the semester, you will be able to logon to SONA and see your students’ progress.
If you have not received your UserID and password by the beginning of the first week of classes, please contact the Research Pool manager.
SONA Registration for Students
Students can register for a SONA account beginning the first week of the semester (the opening of the Pool will be announced by email) and for one month after that (October 1st in the Fall; March 1st in the Spring). After one month registration is closed. Students will not be able to register for SONA and thus will not be able to complete their Research Pool participation. This deadline is being enforced due to the large numbers of students registering on SONA and seeking activities during the final week of the semester.
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.
Determining Whether Students Have Met the Requirement
Students can complete the Research Pool requirement by participating in research studies, research-related alternative activities, or both. Research-related alternative activities (such as peer-reviewed scientific article reading assignments or training in ethics of research) are available all semester long for those students who do not wish to or are not eligible to participate in research studies.
The activities listed on SONA are the only activities that qualify as acceptable participation. As long as students obtain 4 participation credits on the SONA system, they should be granted their course credit for doing so.
Students must complete their 4 required credits one day prior to the last day of classes. This is a hard deadline. No extensions will be granted by Research Pool management for any reason. This must be the case because researchers and activity administrators need adequate time to grant credits after student participation prior to final exams. The Research Pool will close one day prior to the last day of classes. Researchers must have their attendance/credit information entered into SONA by the last day of classes. Thus, you can check SONA for the final credit information after the last day of classes.
Instructors are only responsible for determining whether students have completed the research participation requirement by the credits listed in the SONA system! Instructors are not responsible for collecting Research Pool assignments, grading them, or allotting SONA credits. Please do not offer to collect assignments and/or hand assignments in to the Research Pool staff for students.
As an instructor, if you have an assignment that you would like to offer as a research-related alternative assignment, you may contact the Research Pool Coordinator to discuss it. However, any activity that is offered as a research-related alternative assignment must be approved by the Research Pool Committee prior to being offered on the SONA system.
Restrictions on Participant Recruitment for Research
Students must be 18-years-old to participate in research. Students who are not yet 18-years-old need to participate in non-research Alternative Assignments (please see Student Instructions page for more information about student eligibility for research and Alternative Assignments). These will be available in the SONA system all semester long. Students who turn 18 during the semester can participate in research after their birthday.
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.
Researchers who wish to recruit from the York College Research Pool, must apply for approval to the Research Pool Coordinator prior to beginning recruitment. Students may not be granted research participation credits for involvement in activities that do not have prior approval from the Research Pool Coordinator and/or have not listed their activities on the SONA system.