The Research Experience Component and Subject Pool

One of the requirements of the psychology major and its two related concentrations at SUNY New Paltz is the Research Experience Component. This is intended to provide students with a broader understanding of research methods, to increase their knowledge of human psychology, and to expose them to research topics that they may want to pursue later in an independent study.

Types of Research Activities to Complete the Requirement

To satisfy the Research Experience Component requirement, psychology majors must accrue at least 12 half-hour credits (i.e., 6 hours) worth of research activities. The number of credits earned for each activity depends upon the type and length of the activity (see next section). Such activities may include any combination of the following:

  1. In-Person Study: These studies require you to set up an appointment with the researcher by signing up for a personal time slot on the Sona Systems website (see below) and arriving at a laboratory or similar location on campus at the specified date and time. When you arrive for your appointment a researcher will direct you as to the specifics of their study. You may sign up for this type of activity through the website and again, you will be asked to physically go to the specific study location at the time you sign up for in order to gain credit.
  2. Online Study: Frequently faculty and graduate students will post research studies on our website with a web link to their online research survey. In order to access these surveys for credit, simply go to our website and click on the view studies tab. From there you may select the study you would like to participate in.
  3. Job Talk/Lecture: Scholars and researchers often speak on campus about their new research. A job talk is a research-oriented talk given as part of the interview process by professors seeking employment at our university’s Psychology Department. A lecture may involve one or more researchers or scholars seeking to inform the student population and public about current topics in psychological research. To gain credit toward the Research Experience Component by attending a job talk or lecture, you must first sign up first on the website, then attend the lecture and sign in on the sheet passed around the room.
  4. Journal Article Summary: Students may write a review paper based on an empirical research article provided by the Psychology Department. In order to utilize this option, you must contact the subject pool coordinator and choose an article from our approved selection.

Studies and job talks/lectures which offer subject pool credit will be available for sign up on the website. For journal article summaries, or if you have a question about whether an event or study is eligible for Subject Pool credits, please email the subject pool coordinator.

NOTE: Psychology minors do not need to complete the Research Experience Component.

Credits toward the psychology Major Credit Requirement (MCR)

The number of credits earned depends upon the length and type of activity:

  • Job Talks/Lectures and Online Studies: Each 0.5 hour or 30 minutes of research time is worth one (1) research credit. For example, participation in a onehour survey or talk will grant two (2) research credits.
  • In-Person Studies: Each 0.5 hour or 30 minutes of research time is worth one (1) research credit, as with online studies. However, these studies will be worth 2 additional credits to further compensate for the restricted scheduling opportunities and time used to commute to the on-site laboratory. For example, participation in a one-hour physical study will grant four (4) research credits (2 half-hour credits plus 2 additional credits).
  • Journal Article Summaries: Reading and writing a review of a paper is worth two credits.

Credit Toward a Class

Some psychology instructors use the Sona Systems website to offer extra credit in their course for participating in research activities and attending talks. However, this is at the discretion of the instructor and not every psychology class will offer extra class credit for engaging in the activities described above.

In these cases, you can allocate your credit for participating in an activity to either the Research Experience Component or the class, but not bothE-mail the subject pool coordinator if you are unsure about how to allocate the credit.

The Sona Systems Website

Research studies and talks are coordinated through online subject pool software called Sona Systems. Students may sign up for the available studies and talks electronically after creating a personal account through the Sona Systems website.

Once a personal account has been created, you will use this site to keep track of progress toward the Research Experience Component and schedule future research appointments.

Account Creation

Whether you are working on the Research Experience Component or extra credit for a course, you need to create an account on the Sona Systems website. Here’s how to do this.

  1. Go to the website address above with your Internet browser of choice.
  2. Click on the tab labeled ‘Request an account here’ directly below NEW PARTICIPANT at the lower left of the screen and follow the prompts.
  3. Carefully read through the human subjects/privacy policy.
  4. Complete the prescreen questions.
  5. Select a course or major credit requirement when prompted; make this selection based on where you need credit to be allocated. For example, if you need to complete the Major Credit Requirement, but also wish to apply credit toward a course offering extra credit, select both of these options. You may always return to your profile and add or remove course selections as needed.
  6. Use the main menu to view studies, change your password or details and check if credit has been granted for previous studies.

After You Participate

  • Once you have participated in research, or attended a lecture, you will normally be credited within 48 hours. If it should take longer to see your credit appear on your website profile, do not be alarmed! This delay might be due to a weekend, holiday or other interference of life that prevented the researcher from crediting your account. If you are concerned about not receiving your credit, email the subject pool coordinator and indicate the study you completed and your name.
  • You may choose how to apply the credit after you receive it. It can be applied toward either a course you are currently enrolled in offering credit or your major credit requirement, but not both. Once credit is applied to a certain class or major, it cannot be changed. If you only select a single course or only the MCR for assignment of credit during a semester, the system will automatically credit the single selection.
  • Please note that all credits must be assigned by the last day of classes in a given semester in order to count as extra credit for a course you are taking in that semester. All unassigned credits left after the last day of classes may be applied towards future semester’s extra credit or the MCR.

What If I Have To Cancel an Appointment?

If you sign up for a physical study, you can cancel it up until 24 hours before it starts. You have two options to cancel:

  1. You can cancel by logging into your Subject Pool account and finding your appointment. This is the preferred method of canceling an appointment.
  2. If you cannot get to a computer, you can call the researcher’s lab (not her or his office) and inform the research assistants that you need to cancel and reschedule your appointment. Contact information for each lab is available in on the Sona Systems website at the specific study webpage. Try to call 24 hours or more in advance if possible. You can then login into the Subject Pool website to reschedule your appointment.

Satisfying the Research Experience Component Requirement

  • To see how many credits you have earned toward the Research Experience Component (or toward extra credit in a course), log into your account and clicking on "My schedule/credits." You will also be able to see what future events you have signed up for.
  • Try to have all of your credits completed prior to your final semester at SUNY New Paltz to avoid a deficiency notice from Records and Registration.
  • After successfully completing and applying 12 credits towards the Research Experience Component, you must inform the subject pool coordinator by email that you have completed at least 12 credits. The subject pool coordinator will then submit the necessary paperwork to Records and Registration on your behalf. This should be done at least a month before graduating to ensure that it is processed in time.

Who do I contact with questions?

For questions about the Research Experience Component requirement, it is best to contact the subject pool coordinator (rather than an instructor or researcher). You may reach the subject pool coordinator at or (845) 257-3497. You can also visit during the subject pool coordinator's office hours. The coordinator’s office is located in WH 361.