SONA Participant FAQ

SONA Accounts

Immediately after I login and 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, try to use a different web browser (for example, switch to Firefox if you are currently using Internet Explorer), or try to use a different computer. Detailed instructions can be found if you go to the site and enter the URL “cookie_help.aspx” in place of “default.aspx” in the address bar of the browser, when you are on the front page of the site. You can also try to use another computer. Usually, the computers in university computer labs are configured correctly.

How do I change the email address where email notifications from the system are sent?

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 Yahoo account, for instance), this is the address where all notifications will be sent, as well as the address that will be displayed to researchers (if enabled). If you do not provide an alternate email address, the system will derive your email address from your username. Typically, it will add “” to the end of your user ID to form the address. Provide an alternate email address and notifications will be sent there.


Study Sign-up and Participation

I attempted to sign up for a study, and I was prevented from doing so because the study I was trying to sign up for is a disqualifier for another study I am scheduled to participate in. Why is this?

If you have signed up for a study that has disqualifiers (studies you must not have participated in to participate in that study), you may not sign up for the studies that are listed as the disqualifier studies. You are allowed to sign up for the disqualifier studies if the disqualifier study will take place after the study with disqualifiers. You are also allowed to sign up if you have already participated in (and received credit for) the study with disqualifiers. The easiest way to sign up for both studies is to schedule the disqualifier study at a time later than the study with disqualifiers.

I tried to sign up for a study on SONA but there are no timeslots available. What does this mean?

If there are no time slots available for a study it means that all the current slots have been filled by other SONA participants. However, this doesn’t mean that more time slots won’t become available, so please check back regularly to see if any additional slots have been added, or be in touch with the COM SONA administrator directly (

How can I find out about SONA research opportunities?

We recommend regularly checking the SONA platform throughout the semester if you are in need of credits. The SONA administrator will also notify all enrolled students when new studies become available and when additional time slots are added to existing studies.

There are no available studies with time slots available and I’m worried about earning enough credits for my class(es). What should I do?

First of all, we suggest that all SONA participants begin participating as early in the semester as possible in order to not miss out on any opportunities for research credit. Secondly, new studies are added to SONA throughout the semester—the COM SONA administrator ( emails participants when a new study becomes available. We encourage you to sign up promptly for any study you are interested in as time slots can fill up quickly.

Who can see information about my sign-ups? I don’t want everyone to know which studies I signed up for.

Only the researcher and principal investigator of the study may see that you have signed up for a study, along with the site administrator. No other users, including other researchers or your instructor can see this information.

I have received a notification from the SONA system that I have reached or exceeded the unexcused no-show notification limit. What does this mean?

Unexcused no shows do not affect your existing SONA credits. The only penalty is that you will not receive the credits you would have earned if you had participated.

However, being marked as a no-show may make you ineligible to sign up for a study a second time—it is up to each study’s individual researcher(s) to decide if they will allow you to participate in their study if you previously were marked as a no-show. Please be in touch with the study’s researcher directly to find out if you are eligible to sign up for a time slot after you have been marked as a no-show.

In order to avoid being marked as a no-show, if you are unable to attend your scheduled time slot you must cancel as soon as possible. Most studies allow you to cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled time slot. You can cancel via the “My Studies” tab on your SONA homepage.


Research Lectures

What does it mean when a study in SONA says it is a “Research Lecture”? How does this differ from a normal research study?

As an alternative to participating in surveys or experiments, SONA participants are able to attend certain COM lectures in order to receive SONA credit.

As attendance is not taken at these events, it is required that all attendees submit a 250-300 word reflection about any aspect of the lecture in order to receive credit. Reflections are due within 24 hours of the lecture and are submitted via a Qualtrics survey link (see next section about how to submit a reflection).

I attended a COM research lecture to receive SONA credit. Where do I submit my reflection?

The link to submit your reflection is available via the “View Study Website” link on the study’s page in SONA. Here is how to access that page:

  • Once logged in via your participant account, select the “Studies” tab
  • From the list of current studies, select the lecture you attended
  • From that page, there will be a red button that says “View Study Website” (see screenshot below)
  • This button will bring you to a Qualtrics survey where you will submit your reflection

In order to prevent attendees from writing their reflections during the lecture itself, this link will be made active after the lecture is over.

You will have at least 24 hours after the lecture to submit your reflection to receive SONA credit. Eligible reflections will be credited within 2 business days.

What should my lecture reflection include?

While we leave it up to each individual attendee to decide what exactly they would like to write about, reflections must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 250 words in length
  • Cite specific informationabout the research presented in the lecture—not general information related to the topic, or information that can be easily sourced from the lecture abstract or Google
  • If it includes specific, copied-and-pasted language from the lecture abstract, include quotation marks where necessary to avoid plagiarism
  • Be of high quality, with relevant and thoughtful application of the lecture content

Remember: These reflections are supposed to illustrate that you actually attended the lecture and paid careful attention. Any responses that do not meet the above requirements will mean you are ineligible to receive the 1.5 research credits available. Please treat these reflections as you would any other class assignment as the credits earned will affect your overall class grade.


I completed the prescreen survey but did not receive .5 credits for my response. Why is this?

If you submitted your prescreen survey after the current semester’s pre-determined deadline (generally a week after the add/drop deadline), your response will not be credited. This policy is in place to encourage timely responses, as the data gathered via the prescreen survey is often needed for researchers to recruit participants—a delayed prescreen response may make you ineligible to participate in certain research opportunities.

I participated in COM SONA studies last semester. Where did those credits go and why aren’t they reflected in my current credit status?

As instructors enroll their courses in SONA on a semester-by-semester basis, all credit balances are cleared out at the end of each semester. Any credits earned in a previous semester will not apply to the current semester’s credit requirements.

I am enrolled in multiple courses that require SONA credit. Can I apply my earned credits to multiple classes?

If you are enrolled in multiple classes that require SONA credit, you are expected to fulfill each course’s requirements independently from one another, so there is not a way to apply credits to multiple classes in SONA.

I am taking classes within a different college at BU that has its own SONA research pool. Can I apply credits earned via that SONA system to my COM SONA account?

While Questrom School of Business and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences have their own SONA pools, there is not a way in the SONA system to link accounts across pools. Therefore, you will not be able to apply credits earned via a different college’s SONA system to the College of Communication’s SONA system and only credits earned via the COM SONA pool can be counted toward your COM course requirements.

There are no time slots available for the active studies on SONA, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to fulfill the minimum SONA credits required by my instructor(s). Will more studies become available for me to participate in?

New research opportunities are added to SONA throughout the course of the entire semester according to researcher demand. All SONA participants will be notified via email when new SONA opportunities become available.

As SONA time slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis, we urge you to sign up for studies as early on in the semester as possible to ensure that you can fulfill your course requirements. Additionally, we recommend regularly checking the SONA website, as researchers often add more time slots to existing studies throughout the semester.

I signed up for a study time slot but will no longer be able to attend. What should I do?

Each study has its own deadline for cancellation—for instance, a researcher may request that you provide 24 hours notice if you won’t be able to attend.

If far enough ahead of time, you can cancel your study time slot by navigating to your SONA participant homepage, then clicking “View or cancel my study appointments.” From there, you can choose to cancel a timeslot if it is within the cancellation window.

If you can’t attend a scheduled time slot and the cancellation deadline has passed, please be in touch with the study’s researcher directly in order to be marked as an “excused no-show.” Researcher contact info should be available via the study’s page on SONA. If your absence is excused, you will still be able to participate in the study and can schedule a new time slot.

How do I apply earned credits to a specific course in the SONA system?

If you are enrolled in only one class in SONA, your credits will be automatically applied to that course’s requirements. If you are enrolled in two or more classes, you will have to manually reassign earned credits to a different course.

To reassign earned credits:

  • From your SONA participant homepage, select the “My Schedule/Credits” tab. This will display all SONA research studies that you have signed up for (past and present).
  • There will be a column in this table that displays which course your credits have been assigned to.
  • If you’d like to reassign the credits, click the red “Reassign” button and select the course you’d like the credits to count towards.