Participate in Studies


If you are 18 or above and are currently enrolled in an advertising course at the University of Illinois that grants credit for participating in research through Sona, you are eligible to join our participant pool.


Participating in advertising research may involve activities such as filling out questionnaires, participating in focus groups or interviews, playing games, or testing new software. Studies usually include a description of the nature of the task on Sona.


You can earn course credit by participating in our studies. Typically, you will receive 1 credit for 30 minutes of your active participation. Many of our studies involve research activities that you might find interesting and informative!


Standard lab studies usually take place in the AdLab (Armory 222) or other locations on campus. Online studies can be completed anywhere using a computer.


Step-by-step guide.

Step 1: request an account on Sona

Many prospective participants have questions about how to sign up for studies in Sona, change profile information, finding the lab, and so on. You can find almost all your answers in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of this page. If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact our Lab Manager.

Step 3: sign up for studies

Sona provides great research experience for students and important data for researchers. We thank you for being part of the participant pool.

In order to participate in research for course credit, you'll need to have an account on the Sona Systems database. You may already have an account that you created in a previous class. If this is the case, all you need to do is log back in and select the courses that you’re currently enrolled in. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one.

Step 2: find answers to your questions

Sona has a user-friendly interface that you should be able to easily navigate. If you would like step-by-step instructions on how to use Sona, you may watch a video tutorial created by the Sona Systems support team

Frequently asked questions

for undergraduate participants

General Information

Sona is a cloud-based research and participant recruitment solution for universities. A complete participant tutorial is available here.

Researchers post studies on Sona so students can sign up for research in exchange for course credit. All studies on Sona are approved by the UIUC Institutional Review Board (IRB), which protects the rights and welfare of people involved in research.

Before using the system, you need to create an account by accessing Sona. Click on ‘Request Account’ to receive login (your netID) and password information in your email. If you have any problems creating your account, please contact us.

After logging into your account for the first time, the system will ask you to choose the multiple courses you are taking. You might also change this information later by going to your profile in the upper right corner (My Profile > Course(s) > Change Courses).

For returning users from previous semesters, please do not forget to update your list of course(s) that you want credit in!

You should sign up for studies early in the semester and check the system frequently. If you do not sign up for studies throughout the semester you might not have enough opportunities to participate by the end of your course.

There could be two types of studies in the system: online studies and standard/lab studies. To participate in an online study, after you sign up for research you will receive a link to answer an online survey. For lab studies (focus groups, computer-assisted activities, etc.), please sign up and see the location specified. Certain studies might have eligibility requirements and you should read the study information carefully to make sure you qualify for that research.

If you have any questions about a specific research, please contact the researcher or principal investigator of that study (their names are always available in the study description).

Arrive on time for each study. If you are late, you will not be able to participate and you will be marked as an unexcused No-Show. If the researcher is not in the room when you arrive, wait 15 minutes past the scheduled start time, then contact the researcher in charge of the study and the lab manager.

Please follow instructions, be respectful, take participation seriously, and try to give quality responses. If you are disruptive, purposely provide inaccurate or inappropriate responses, or act so that the researcher believes that your data will be unusable, you will be asked to leave and will not receive any credit for the session.

Each study may have their own deadline for cancellation. Please pay close attention to this information on the study information page before you sign-up. If it is before the cancellation deadline, then you can cancel via the Sona website. Log in and click My Schedule/Credits. This screen shows studies that you are signed up for. If it is before the deadline for a certain appointment, there will be a Cancel button next to it. Once you click Cancel, you will need to confirm that you want to cancel the appointment. Print a copy of this page as a record of your cancellation.

If the cancellation deadline has passed, or if you miss an appointment, you need to email both the researcher in charge of the study and the lab manager ASAP. Please include justification for the cancellation/absence and any supporting documentation. This information will be reviewed and in certain cases (emergency, documented illness, etc), the No-Show may be excused. Typically, if you cancel after the cancellation deadline, it will be considered an unexcused No-Show.

Sometimes, a researcher will cancel a study. If a researcher cancels less than 24 hours in advance, you will receive credit for the study. If it is more than 24 hours in advance, it will be marked as an excused No-Show in the Sona system.

If you do not attend a study you signed up for, you will receive a “No-Show” on your account. A No-Show includes any situation in which you do not receive credit. A No-Show is NOT a penalty. A No-Show does not remove a credit earned; it just does not add a credit to your account. There are two types of No-Shows: Excused and Unexcused.

1. Excused No-Shows: Includes situations in which the researcher cancels a session before the cancellation deadline, if a participant chooses to or is asked to leave, or if a participant has a valid and documented reason for missing a study or arriving late to a study. Excused No-Shows will not count towards your unexcused absences, so will not influence whether your account gets locked (see points 2 and 3 below)

2. Unexcused No-Shows: Includes situations in which you do not have a valid and documented excuse for missing a study, arriving late to a study, or not completing an online study once you have begun it. An unexcused No-Show does not affect the credits you have earned through other studies. However, if you receive two unexcused No-Shows, your account will be locked and you will not be able to sign up for any more studies in the Course Credit Subject Pool.

3. Locked Accounts: Your account will be locked if you receive two unexcused No-Shows. While your account is locked, you will be unable to sign up for studies, although you can still take part in any studies that you have already signed up for and will receive credit for any studies completed thus far. There are two ways to get an account unlocked.

First, you can provide documentation justifying at least one of the unexcused No-Shows. Documentation would include a letter from the emergency dean, McKinley, or other authorized professional. You can submit your documentation via email.

Second, you can follow these steps to complete additional online ethics training:

  • Go to the CITI Program website here:
  • Click “Register Here”.
  • Select University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from list of participating institutions. Also complete sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 on this page (you can select “no” for sections 6 and 7). Click “Submit”.
  • Fill out the information on the next page (for the “what is your role in research question you can just select “student researcher – undergraduate”). Click “Submit”.
  • Click to enroll in the Core Basic Training with the option that reads “Basic: Social and Behavioral Research”. You can ignore or click “n/a” for all the other options. Click “Submit”.
  • Click “no” on next page (to indicate that you do not want to affiliate with any other institutions).
  • You will then come to your main menu. Here you should see “Social and Behavioral Research, Basic Course” listed under “My Courses”. Click “Enter”.
  • You need to complete the following 6 required modules that are part of that basic training:
    • Belmont Report and CITI Course Introduction (ID: 1127)
    • History and Ethical Principles – SBR (ID: 490)
    • Defining Research with Human Subjects – SBR (ID:491)
    • Assessing Risk in Social Behavioral Sciences – SBR (ID: 503)
    • Informed Consent – SBR (ID: 504)
    • Privacy and Confidentiality – SBR (ID: 505)
  • Submit the completion report to show that you have successfully completed the ethics training. You must submit the completion report via email (e.g., as a PDF, as an image, or as a screen shot copied into a Word document). The dates on your completion certificate must reflect that you completed the ethics training after your account was locked. After submitting the completion report to our lab manager, two unexcused no-shows will be removed from your account.

Without documentation justifying an Unexcused No-Show or showing your completion of the ethics training, your account will remain locked. You may only complete CITI Training to unlock your account once per academic year. Contact the lab manager if you have any questions.

After you participate in a study, you do not need to take any further action since the credits will be automatically assigned to you once the researcher confirms your participation. We allow researchers 48 hours to approve your credit.

Sona offers a complete credit overview, with clear information about credits earned, credits pending, and credits required for the courses you are listed.

You can allocate the total amount of credits you earn throughout the semester to whichever course (that is listed on the Sona) you want. Since credits exceed are not accepted by most instructors, it is important to observe the maximum number of credits that you can earn from research participation.


If you have not participated in the Advertising Research Participation System (ARPS), then you have to create a Sona account to participate. If you participated in Sona studies for classes outside of the advertising department, you still have to create a new account in the ARPS. If you have participated in the ARPS in previous semesters, you DO NOT need to create a new account.

If you have already created an account this semester but cannot remember your password, click ‘Lost Password’. You will be able to retrieve your password by following the steps outlined there. If you have received 2 unexcused No-Shows, your account may be locked. If you are still unable to log in or retrieve your password, please contact the ARPS Lab Manager.

Each semester, you have to manually added and remove your courses. To do so, click the drop down menu at the top right corner, click on “My profile”, scroll to the bottom and click “Change Courses.” You’ll be able to add and remove your courses on that page.

When you log in, select “View studies I’ve participated in, and see if credit has been granted.” Then, you’ll see a list of the credits you’ve earned. Then, select “reassign” and you will be able to decide how you’d like to allocate those credits.

Visit the AdLab webpage to see a map to find our lab in Armory.