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These are the guidelines for research participation credit opportunity for classes with COM, ICT, IS, ISC, LIS, JAM and MAS designation.

Courses participating in CI SONA require students to participate in research conducted by faculty or graduate students within College of Communication and Information. Participation in research or alternative studies allows students to earn points towards their final course grade as well as allows students to be introduced to research being conducted in our College.


As a researcher, in order to gain access to CI SONA, specific requirements must be met before a request is submitted. Researchers need to submit a request to use the CI SONA. The request link is available at [insert website address here]. Researchers may also request consultation from either one of the CI SONA PIs or study coordinators (e.g., SONA support). All studies must be approved by the IRB at the University of Kentucky prior to any inclusion in the CI SONA. The Office of Research Integrity website, has all the information needed. When a researcher has received IRB approval for a study and wishes to use CI SONA, the researcher will need to follow the procedures for CI SONA. These include providing evidence of the stamped IRB consent form and approval email to the CI SONA study coordinator.

CITI training: Note that the IRB requires all personnel who will obtain informed consent or have access to identifiable research data to complete the online CITI training and be listed on the IRB. Instructions are available at the ORI website. More information on CITI training can be found at

All courses with the following designations can choose to opt into participation: COM, CIS, ICT, IS, ISC, LIS, JAM, and MAS. CI SONA uses a web-based system for posting information on research studies within the College of Communication and Information that are accepting participants. Participants sign up online and receive e-mail reminders from the CI SONA study coordinator. The web-based system also awards credits and allows course instructors to log-in and see completion of research credits for students (note: it does not show what research experiments/studies students engaged in).

Students enrolled in CI SONA courses are required to complete two research credits (each credit worth 2% of course grade for total 4%). Instructors of CI SONA courses are required to give out no more than two credit points per course, per semester, per student for CI SONA participation (i.e., 2% of final grade for each credit, totaling 4% of the final grade). Participation for the maximum number of credits (studies or alternative assignments) should be worth 4% of the total possible points for the course (the exact point value is determined by the instructor and course). Students who participate for part of the total requirement will receive pro-rated credit (for example, student may earn 2% of the total 4% if only one credit is completed).

Researchers must be mindful to follow the guidelines in awarding credit. In addition, if a student goes to an experimental session and no one is there to conduct the session, and the student has not been notified 24 hours in advance, the student will be awarded full credit for arriving to participate. Further, researchers are responsible for allocating credit with time spent for their research within their own IRB approvals.

Note: Studies in the CI SONA ascribe to the following rule of thumb for credit allocation: one research credit awarded for study that is up to 30 minutes or fraction thereof required by the research activity. Thus, a 45-minute study could be conducted, and would award two credits.

If students are enrolled in two or more CI SONA courses, they will not be required to complete more than the two credits needed for any CI SONA class. Instead, the CI SONA pool administrator will provide them with “complimentary credits” that the students can use to apply to the additional classes. The CI SONA administrator will provide students with these credits by [enter deadline]. In the event that a student does not see the additional credits by [enter deadline], please email: [enter email] for assistance.

Students will contact the study coordinator if they do not see their credit for the study in which they participated. This information will be provided on the CI SONA website.

Participant no-shows: According to federal regulations, researchers are not allowed to levy penalties to participants who do not show up for a study for which they had signed up. An underlying principle of the regulations governing use of human subjects in research is that the subject’s participation is voluntary and based upon full and accurate information. As stated in the form titled “Guidance for Enrolling University Students as Research Subjects” available at the ORI website, “students must be allowed to withdraw from the study at any time. The informed consent statement should make clear the consequences of withdrawing from a project prior to completion. In general, it is favorable to give credit if the subject withdraws, unless the student withdraws immediately or there is evidence of bad faith on the part of the student.”

Researchers are not required to award credit to participants who do not show up. However, student participants must be free to earn that credit at a future time by participating in another study (or possibly a future session of the same study), or by completing the alternative credit opportunity offered on the CI SONA website.

Students can opt to participate in IRB approved research or alternative studies in order to earn their course credit.

Researchers may be involved in studies on a “first come, first served” basis, with limits. The researcher may post as many experiments/studies as desired (assuming there is IRB approval for each). However, there is a cap on the number of participants a researcher can request per study in a given semester: 300 participants per study. In other words, a single researcher could request 300 participants per study for any number of studies that are approved in a given semester. Graduate students working under the supervision of a faculty member will also be allowed to request 300 participants per study per semester (without that number counting against a faculty member). CI SONA administrators may also allocate additional participants evenly across studies halfway through a given semester if the CI SONA pool will have more credits needed than studies available. For instance, if halfway through a semester, the pool has 1200 credits available across four studies, but the pool totals 1800 credits, we will divide the remaining credits (600) equally among the four studies (150 extra participants per study). Please note: We cannot guarantee participants will sign-up and/or complete a study.

All studies where the principal investigator holds an appointment in the College of Communication and Information are treated with equal priority.

In order to maintain equality in recruiting participants, researchers in the CI SONA pool may not advertise their study by offering extra incentives (like money or gift cards) in addition to course credit. However, other incentives could be used to recruit participants for follow-up studies (for instance, Part 1 earns a SONA credit and Part 2 earns a gift card).

Students who are required to complete research credits but do not wish to participate in a research study may complete an alternative assignment to earn credit. The alternative assignment must take the same amount of time as research participation. Therefore, if a student wishes to earn one credit, the alternative assignment must take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. The CI SONA system will allot credits for completed alternative assignments. Alternate assignment submissions that are plagiarized, blank, or do not meet the requirements will not earn a credit. Students may complete two alternate assignments to earn their two required research credits.

Consent and study information pages should specify how long the study will last and how much credit will be awarded for participation. Participants should have access to a copy of the informed consent form or cover letter; therefore the researcher must have extra copies available, or if the study is online, the consent form must be on its own page to allow students to opportunity to print a copy or screen capture. Consult the ORI website for the most recent consent form template.

Please click here for the current CI SONA policy for insertion in course syllabus.

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