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(for student participants, researchers, and instructors).
Like most psychology departments, we invite psychology students to participate in ongoing research taking place within our department. Students can earn up to 5 bonus percentage points added to their final year's end mark. Please read the information about the participant pool below. If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding your rights or treatment as a research participant, you may contact the Participant Pool Coordinator (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Psychology 100 Participant Pool
What is the Psychology 100 Participant Pool?
As part of their responsibilities at the University, professors and some of the senior students carry out research studies, and many of these studies call for humans as research participants. Like other universities, StFX has a system which involves the students in all the Psychology 100 classes, called the Psychology Department Research Participant Pool.
Students have the opportunity to earn a small amount of bonus credit in the course, in return for helping out the University and the Department by participating in research. You can earn up to 5 bonus points, if you take part in 5 hours worth of studies. The credits you can earn are calculated based on the amount of your time that a study requires. For example, if you take part in a study that takes 30 minutes of your time, you will earn 0.5% bonus credit. Or, if you participate in a study that takes one hour of your time, you will earn 1% bonus credit. The number of credits you will be able to earn depends both on how many studies you take part in and on how many participants are required by researchers in the department. Thus, you should be aware that you are not guaranteed to earn all 5 bonus points. Bonus points are added to your final PSYC 100 mark.
Advantages and Alternatives to Participating in the Pool
Besides earning bonus credits, there are a few other advantages to participating in research studies. Participating in these studies gives you firsthand knowledge of what psychological research is. It will teach you about many of the topics that you will be studying in PSYC 100 this year. Many students also find participating in studies to be enjoyable. If you go on in the Psychology program, you may be required to design studies of your own in the future, and this gives you an opportunity to see what psychology studies are like, from the participant’s point of view.
Participation is entirely voluntary; you are not required or obligated at all to take part if you don’t want to. If you do not wish to participate in the Participant Pool, contact the Participant Pool Co-ordinator, who will give you some assignments you can do for the bonus credit instead. Very few people choose this option, though, because participating in research studies is a fun way to learn about psychology, and participating is also a really easy way to earn bonus credit.
How to Sign up for Research Studies
Early in the term, you will be given the opportunity to complete a series of online questionnaires called Prescreening. (Click on the PSYC 100 sign-up system link above or here.) Your responses to these questionnaires will be used by some researchers to select participants for research studies (e.g., some researchers require an equal number of left and right-handed participants in their studies, some researchers require participants who are in relationships). You will receive 1% bonus credit for completing these questionnaires.
If you are selected to participate in a study, you may receive an email from the researcher, or you may see the study listed as an "available" study for you in the sign-up system. At that point, if you agree to participate you will be able to schedule a mutually agreeable time to participate with the researcher. However, it is important for you to remember that participation is voluntary.
Even if you do not participate in Prescreening, you may still have the opportunity to participate in research later.
Whenever you participate in a study, for which you earn PSYC 100 bonus credit, the researcher will enter your credit in the sign-up system. This will allow you to keep track of your credits.
Your Obligations as a Participant in Research Studies
When you make an appointment to participate in a study, it is of the utmost importance that you show up for the appointment. Always write down the name of the researcher and his or her contact information, so that if you cannot make it, you can (and should) contact the researcher to cancel the appointment. Alternatively, if you cancel within 24 hours, you can cancel your sign-up directly through the system. When you make an appointment to participate in a study, you are obligated to show up. When researchers schedule appointments with participants, they take the appointment very seriously and will wait for you to arrive. If you do not bother to show up for an appointment or call to cancel, you waste researchers’--including honours students'-- time, you compromise the work schedules of the studies, and you waste University resources. This kind of thing is a serious problem. Do NOT sign up unless you intend to show up!
Your Rights as a Participant in Research Studies
Every time you participate in a study, there will be an informed “consent” form for you to read and sign before you begin participating. Such consent forms indicate that the data you provide will always be either confidential or completely anonymous. Participation is always voluntary (no one is ever compelled or forced to participate in any psychology research), and you can always omit any part of the procedure you do not want to do or any questions you do not want to answer. You can withdraw your participation for any reason at any point before or during the procedure – in other words, you can get up and leave any time you want, without even giving an explanation if you don’t want to. The consent form will also provide you with contact information for someone you can get in touch with if you have any concerns or comments about your experience while participating. Finally, as a research participant, in most cases you’ll be fully informed in advance about the purpose of the study, what you will be asked to do as a participant, and any risks that might be involved.
If you show up for an appointment for a study, and then decide not to participate, you will still get bonus credit, just for showing up. If you decide to withdraw from the study after you have already started, you will still get your credit even if you withdraw. You can learn more about your rights on pages 60-61 of your Psychological Science textbook.
All the research done at the University is reviewed by a committee of professors to make sure it follows the standards of ethical research practice.
We hope that you learn from your experiences as a research participant and that your experiences are enjoyable.
The Research Ethics Committee