Subject Pool: Instructions & Guidelines for Students & Researchers

The Department of Marketing Subject Pool (DOMSP) is designed to provide faculty and thesis student researchers access to student subjects. All students enrolled in MKTG 300 in the fall and spring semesters are required to complete 2 credit hours of research participation, to represent a maximum of 5% of their final course grade (credit/no credit basis). Some faculty in other departments (e.g., HRM) allow their students to earn extra credit for research study participation.

Questions about alternative options for the Human Subject Pool research course requirement must be directed to your Instructor.

Before students register and sign up for research sessions, it is important to review the following instructions and warnings carefully (open all tabs below).

  • Users are also urged to view the Sona Systems YouTube tutorial for study participants (also embedded on the right).
  • Then, go to the Sona Systems site to start the registration process, as instructed below.
  • Once you complete the registration process, you will receive email notifications about new studies and other important DOMSP updates.


Go to the Sona Systems site. Click on “Beach ID Login” on the site homepage. Students MUST create their account using their Beach ID. Be careful that you (1) select the proper course section or you will not receive course credit.

Age requirement: Per IRB guidelines, students must be 18+ years old to participate in DOMSP studies. Anyone under the age of 18 must contact their instructor for an alternative assignment.

You will also be required to accept the Human Subjects & Privacy policy.

Registration Required:

  • After you review this webpage, register on the Sona Systems website that manages all DOMSP studies (Sona Systems).
  • Once you register, log into the system with your Beach ID and password to sign up for studies.
  • The system will send you subject pool update messages and confirmation and credit granting messages for studies. All email messages will go to your inbox. [Check your Junk Folder if you do not receive a confirmation message from Sona Systems in your Inbox.]
  • Sometimes the system tags messages from the Sona System as "Junk". Users are urged to add this URL [] to their list of allowed websites and to set messages from * as "not junk."
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are enrolled in multiple courses that offer Subject Pool credit (e.g., MKTG 300, HRM 360), you must check all appropriate courses at the time of registration to ensure that you receive credit for all courses. Students can only receive credit for any single study in one course (i.e., the same study may not be used for credit in more than one course).
    • And, you can earn credit for taking a given study once and only once. You may not participate in the same study multiple times. So, for studies that have multiple waves of data collection, you may only earn credit for one wave.
  • If students are unable to register or to log on to the Sona Systems server from off campus (e.g., home, work (many companies block access to non-work related sites)), check out the help page on the use of cookies by the Sona Systems website. Or, use a computer on campus (check the CSULB website for information on building openings/closures). During the fall and spring semesters, the COB Open Access Lab is open M - F (8am - 5pm).

The MKTG 300 Course Requirement & Study Availability:

  • You need to complete 2 credits to meet the course requirement for MKTG 300. Most studies are worth one credit, but some short studies may be worth only half a credit (.5 credits). Two-part studies may be worth 1.5 credits. Typically, students complete 2-3 studies to earn full credit for this course requirement (=2 credits).
  • There will be sufficient studies for students who register early in the semester (by the end of the third week of classes) that also signup for studies as soon as they become available. Students that delay registering or delay signing up for available studies may not be able to find enough studies to earn full course credit.
    • If you are unable to earn sufficient DOMSP credits or if you prefer to not participate in the DOMSP, contact your instructor for an alternative research-related assignment.
  • IMPORTANT: All studies have limited signups to ensure that all faculty that need human research subjects have access to the Department of Marketing Subject Pool. Typically, studies have 100-200 openings. Once a study is filled/closed, it is visible (on the Sona dashboard) only to those that are registered (signed up) for that specific study.
  • All studies usually close by the end of the 14th week of classes, sometimes earlier. You are advised to fulfill this course requirement early in the semester to avoid a penalty or lack of choice of studies. Most studies are conducted for a very short period of time and end prior to the 14th week of classes. There is no guarantee that research studies will be available late in the semester.
    • Typically, the first study is posted on the Sona Systems website by the second week of the semester. However, all research studies must be approved by the CSULB IRB. In the recent past, the approval process has been delayed due to an increase in IRB applications and a decrease in IRB reviewers. So, the exact timing of the first study is unknown. Registered users will be notified via email of new study postings.
  • Studies are conducted both on-campus or totally online, depending on the study design. As of fall 2023, on-campus studies are allowed.
    • Most on-campus studies are conducted in COB 251, The Beach Lab, located inside the COB Computer Center.
  • All online studies are completed via a computer. Mobile access is denied.

Students are responsible for managing all study participation tasks: i.e., signing up for and changing (canceling and signing up for different) session times. They are also responsible for monitoring study postings and earned credits. The Sona Administrator will not respond to messages such as, "When will another study be posted?" or "How many credits do I have?"

  1. You must sign up for a study BEFORE you can take part – that holds for online studies as well.
  2. It is against Subject Pool policy to "share" URL links with other students. That is, do NOT participate in an online study unless you are officially signed up for that study. If you fail to officially sign up for a study, you will NOT receive course credit – No Exceptions.
  3. Students claiming participation at the end of the term without a sign-up record on the Sona Systems' website will not be credited.
  4. You can earn credit for taking a given study once and only once. You may not participate in the same study multiple times. For studies that have multiple waves of data collection, you may only earn credit for one wave.
  5. Once you complete a study, credit will be awarded within 48 hours unless otherwise noted in the study description. If you participate in a study and do not receive credit, please contact the researcher responsible for that study (researcher email contact information is listed with each study).
  6. Students can check their credits by logging onto the Sona System server (via the Department of Marketing web site or the direct link,
  7. Note: The Sona Administrator and researchers do not have the authority to reassign students to specific research studies or on-campus sessions.

You must cancel a study session no later than 1 hour prior to the scheduled session, unless otherwise indicated.

  • Students who do not show up for a scheduled on-campus session or who fail to complete an online study by the deadline and fail to cancel that signup, prevent another interested student from participating.
  • If the researcher assigns a "no show" credit after you fail to appear at a scheduled session, you must log on to Sona and find another open session.
  • The Administrator does not reassign or monitor openings for students.
  • There are sufficient research session openings during the term for all MKTG 300 students that register early in the semester - there are not endless studies or endless signups.

'No Show' Policy:

  • Students that fail to show up for a study (fail to complete the study by the set deadline) are not guaranteed future study participation opportunities.
  • Students that receive one "unexcused no show" will not receive notification when new studies are posted. They must monitor the website on their own for new listings.
  • Students that earn two "unexcused no shows" will be denied access to future sign ups. Those students must consult with their instructor about alternative options for the subject pool course requirement.
  • In fairness to other users, there are no excuses for "no shows". If you can't meet a study deadline, you must cancel your signup prior to the deadline.

NOTE: Any cheating or attempt to cheat on the Subject Pool requirement is treated the same way that cheating/plagiarism is treated as per COB and University policies regarding Academic Integrity.  In addition, "sharing" URL links for online studies violates Department of Marketing Subject Pool policy.

The Sona Administrator manages the online system and insures that all user accounts and posted studies are operating properly. She typically does not have advance knowledge of when new studies are posted on the Sona website. Thus, the Sona Administrator will not respond to messages asking about the timing of new studies.

The Administrator will send a notification message to all registered students when each new study is available for signups. Department of Marketing Subject Pool update messages are also sent about once a week.

For security, all email messages sent to the Sona Administrator about technical issues MUST be sent from your account. Messages from other Internet provider accounts (gmail, yahoo, etc.) will not be read or replied to.

CSULB faculty and thesis students are eligible to use the Department of Marketing Subject Pool to collect data from COB students. If you are interested in collecting data from subject pool participants, please review the following guidelines/requirements:

  • All studies MUST be approved by the CSULB IRB Committee. Once you have final IRB approval, send the approval letter to the Sona Administrator along with desired sample size.
  • Typically, studies are active for a week, sometimes longer.
  • Researchers should use the Qualtrics platform to create their online studies using the automatic credit granting feature. For help setting up your study for automatic credit granting, watch the Sona System tutorial. Most studies average 30-40 minutes and are worth 1 credit. Short studies that take less than 20 minutes are worth .5 credits. Some two-part studies may be worth 1.5-2 credits, depending on the estimated completion time.
  • For online studies, researchers must issue credits (or "no shows") within 24 hours of the study deadline.
  • For on-campus in-person studies, credits (or "no shows") must be issued within 24 hours of a given research session.

If you have questions, please contact the Sona Administrator at:


The Sona Systems platform has been fully vetted and approved for use by CSULB. Sona Systems' policies meet CSU security and privacy policies, and the company has submitted HECVAT (Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Tool) documents and proof of cybersecurity insurance (last submitted July 2023).

All student accounts and student data are deleted at the end of each semester after final course grades are submitted to the Registrar's Office. Students may also delete their own account at any time, but all credits earned will also be deleted if you delete your account prior to the end of the semester.