Research Participation

Purpose

Research participation (RP) is the laboratory component of your introductory psychology course. Scientific research is important in this field, as it is how knowledge is built and then later applied to practical day-to-day situations. The goal of RP is to introduce you to research in psychology: by taking part in studies from researchers in the Department of Psychology, you can learn first-hand about current research in this field, how studies are conducted, and what it is like to be a participant.

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Experiential learning program helps UAlberta students dip a toe into the world of research

Katie Willis - 01 October 2020

Whether you are a first-year undergraduate student today or you studied introductory psychology at the University of Alberta decades ago, you likely got your first taste of the world of research in the Department of Psychology’s Research Participation (RP) program.

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Grading
RP makes up 10% of your final grade in PSYCH 104 and PSYCH 105. You can earn a maximum of 5 RP credits, each worth 2%. A 1-credit appointment is worth 2% and can take up to 50 minutes to complete; a 2-credit appointment is worth 4% and can take up to 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete. Be sure to obtain at least 1 RP credit during the term to avoid a “missed term work” notation on your transcript.
Ethics Approval
All RP studies are carefully screened by both a U of A Research Ethics Board and the RP Program. You will not be placed at any known risk for physical or psychological harm.
Confidentiality
All information that you provide during RP is confidential. In most cases, your name will not be stored with your information. In other cases, your name will be removed from the data at a later date. Only members of the research team and RP Program administrators will have access to your data.
Study Results
You are encouraged to ask questions and get more information if you are interested in a project. You can also request a summary of the findings of any project in which you have been a participant (excluding mass testing, offered in Fall and Winter term) by contacting the researcher.
Signing Up for Appointments
All RP appointments must be scheduled using the online RP system available through your eClass course page. Please see eClass for the date and time that the RP system link will be available. You can take part in RP right through to the last day of class. Signups for appointments will close at 8:00 pm (Mountain Time [MT]) on that day. You will not be able to earn RP credit after the last day of class.

In order to ensure that everyone gets a chance to sign up and get started with their appointments, you will be limited to signing up for 3 RP credits until approximately halfway through the term. You can sign up for the remaining 2 credits during the last half of the semester. An email announcement will be sent out through eClass when the remaining 2 credits are available.

Researchers post new appointments throughout the term, but students are continually signing up for projects; as a result, there may not always be sessions available that you are eligible for and that fit with your schedule. In Fall and Winter term, your responses in the mass testing survey also affect the variety of research projects that you see in the RP system. If you choose not to participate in mass testing, you can still participate in research studies but there may be fewer projects for you to choose from. Please do not be concerned if there is limited availability of appointments at any given time during the semester. New projects and sessions are frequently added to the RP system. If you check the RP system regularly (i.e., daily or every few days), you will be able to find sufficient appointments to earn your maximum RP credits before the last day of class.
Credit for Appointments

When you sign up for a session, the credit for that appointment is AUTOMATICALLY added to your account. You will see NO CHANGE for that appointment on your “Check Your Credit Status” page unless you cancel the session or do not participate. Your current credit status reflects all of the projects that you have signed up for, even upcoming sessions that you have not yet completed.

After the deadline or start time of each RP session, the researcher will report student attendance for that appointment (i.e., which students were absent, late, or did not participate).

  • If you attend a session and participate:
    • The credit for the appointment will REMAIN on your account.
    • You will NOT see a confirmation message in the RP system or receive a confirmation email.
  • If you do not attend a session or you are late:
    • An unexcused absence will be ADDED to your account.
    • The credit for the appointment will be REMOVED from your account.
    • If you ever participate in an appointment and the credit is incorrectly removed from your account, please email the RP Coordinator (rescred@ualberta.ca) and attach the consent and debriefing forms from your session as proof of participation.

***IMPORTANT – As a participant, it is your responsibility to save a copy (print, download, screenshot, photo, or hard copy) of the consent and debriefing forms for every session in which you participate. These forms contain important information regarding the project. Having a copy for your records will also allow you to keep track of which sessions you have completed, as you will NOT see a confirmation message in the RP system. In the event of a technical issue during an online session, a copy of the consent and/or debriefing forms (along with screenshots or photos of any error messages) can be used as proof of participation to ensure that you receive credit for the appointment. If there is insufficient evidence that you participated in a project, then we cannot provide you with credit and the appointment may be marked as an unexcused absence. If you forget to save a copy of the consent and debriefing forms, please record the name/date/time of the appointment and a detailed description of the tasks that you completed, as this information can also be used as proof of participation if required.

Online Appointments

For online projects, appointments may be one of two types:

  • Appointments with a deadline:
    • Most projects that do not require interaction with a researcher; e.g., a survey
    • You must access the URL for the session through the RP system at any time before the deadline for the appointment
  • Appointments with a start time:
    • All projects that require interaction with a researcher; e.g., a Zoom call
    • You must access the URL for the session through the RP system at the start time for the appointment
  • If you are logged in to an online appointment with a start time but the researcher is not there, please wait for 10 minutes after the start time. If this situation (or another technical issue during any online appointment) occurs, please contact the RP Coordinator as soon as possible and provide your name, student ID number, appointment name/date/time, and the nature of the problem (including screenshots or photos of any error messages). We will investigate and assign credit as appropriate.
In-Person Lab Appointments
For in-person projects, all appointments will have a start time. Please bring your ONEcard to the session for ID.

It is your responsibility to find each in-person appointment location a day or two before your session to avoid getting lost. Please arrive at your appointment 5 minutes before the start time. If you arrive at an in-person lab session after the researcher says that there is no further admittance to the study, then the credit for that session will be removed from your account and the appointment will be marked as an unexcused absence. The researcher’s decision is final when it comes to deciding if an individual has arrived too late to take part in the project. Traffic, weather, getting lost, etc. are not considered acceptable reasons for being late or for missing an appointment.

If you are on time for your in-person lab session but the researcher is not there, please wait for 10 minutes after the start time. If the researcher has not arrived after 10 minutes, please contact the RP Coordinator as soon as possible and provide your name, student ID number, and appointment name/date/time. We will investigate and assign credit as appropriate.
Participating in Appointments
At the beginning of each appointment, you will be provided with an explanation of the study and the tasks that you will perform. You will then be asked for your consent to participate. Please take your time reading through the consent form to make sure that you understand the nature of the tasks, the participation options (i.e., study or alternate task), and any instructions provided. If you have questions or would like additional information, you can ask or contact the researcher.

If you decide not to participate in the study activity after reading the consent form, you can choose to complete an alternate task to receive credit for the project. The alternate task will not take longer than the scheduled appointment. The alternate task usually involves reading a paper on a topic related to the research and then answering some questions. If you choose the alternate task, it must be completed during the session to the researcher’s satisfaction in order to receive RP credit.

If you read the consent form and decide not to participate in either the study or the alternate task, please exit the online project or leave the session and contact the RP Coordinator to cancel the appointment. You will not receive credit, but you will be able to sign up for a replacement session. If you agree to take part in the study but then decide during the appointment that you would not like to continue, you may stop responding and exit the online project or leave the session at any time without penalty.
Cancelling Appointments
If you are unable to participate in an appointment during the semester for any reason, please cancel through the online RP system up to midnight (MT) the day before your appointment.

If you need to cancel on the same day due to illness or an urgent matter, please email rescred@ualberta.ca (from your UAlberta email account) or leave a voicemail message at 780-492-5689. Be sure to leave your name, student ID number, appointment name/date/time, and reason for cancellation or else we will not be able to process your request. As long as you have provided sufficient information and contacted us before the appointment deadline or start time, your cancellation will be processed once the RP Coordinator is available.

You can cancel any appointment that you have signed up for as long as it is done before the deadline or start time of the appointment. This will allow you to sign up for a different appointment without penalty.
Missed Appointments

Failure to cancel before missing (or being late for) your appointment will result in loss of credit for the study. If you do not attend (or are late for) a session, then the credit will be removed from your account and the appointment will be marked as an unexcused absence. You will be given ONE opportunity to make up an unexcused absence by signing up for a different appointment. The mass testing survey is an exception: if you sign up but then do not log in and start the survey, you will not receive credit but you can sign up for a different session in its place without penalty.

With one unexcused absence, you can still earn a maximum of 10% for RP. However, if you have two or more unexcused absences, you will not be able to earn the full 10% for RP:

Number of unexcused absences Maximum mark that you can earn for RP
0 or 1 10% or 5 RP credits
2 8% or 4 RP credits
3 6% or 3 RP credits
4 4% or 2 RP credits
5 2% or 1 RP credit
6 0% or 0 RP credits

Even if you feel unwell (including cold/flu symptoms, headache, nausea, general malaise, etc.), it is your responsibility to cancel your appointment before the deadline or start time. Only an incapacitating medical illness or emergency, severe domestic affliction, or other similarly compelling reason will be considered an acceptable reason for missing an appointment without prior notice. If this is the case, you must inform the RP Coordinator within two working days following the missed appointment (or as soon as you are able).

Credit Concerns
Your current credit status is always shown in the RP system. Every time that you access the RP system, it is your responsibility to review the “Check Your Credit Status” page as your last action online. Always check that your sign ups and cancellations are successful and make note of the deadlines, start times, and locations for all of your upcoming sessions. When you successfully sign up for or cancel an appointment, you will also receive a confirmation email to your UAlberta email address.

If you find an error in your overall score for RP credits, please email the RP Coordinator as soon as possible. After the last day of class, you will have 3 DAYS to report credit discrepancies before final RP marks are sent to instructors. After the final scores are sent to instructors, the RP mark may be available to view on eClass (depending on your instructor’s policies).