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College of Business Administration

Business Research Participation Portal (Business Sona Systems)


Consistent with the “learn-by-doing” approach endorsed by Cal Poly Pomona and together with a behavioral lab, Qualtrics, and Medialab software, Business Sona Systems’ subject pool management system ( “provides a supportive environment for innovative teaching and research” in the College of Business Administration.

Benefits to student participants

A vast majority of Cal Poly Pomona students who participated in studies found that they significantly enriched their learning experience, a survey shows. Your participation also helps your professors discover new knowledge and advance the field. Such new knowledge can be incorporated into the courses you will take in a variety of forms, including being part of textbook materials in the future. Therefore, please be serious in this very important endeavor.

How to participate?

To sign up for studies, go to Business Sona Systems at http://cba-csupomona.sona-systems.comYou can use any computer with Internet access to sign up, select courses, assign credit or change your appointments. If you are new to the system, please read further down for the detailed procedures and answers to frequently asked questions. Please note that the website of Business Sona Systems is different from that of the Psychology and Sociology Department at Cal Poly Pomona. If you don't see your class or the study you are told to participate in, you are likely to be at the wrong site.

Detailed procedures and answers to frequently asked questions

Please read carefully! 

Students need to register to obtain a logon and password. You can do this by going to the URL above and clicking on the “New Participant” link in the lower left corner of the screen. A form will appear that requests your name and User ID. Your User ID is the first part of your Cal Poly Pomona email address. There is no need to type the remainder of the address. All users must sign up and receive messages using their Cal Poly Pomona email account. A password will be sent to your email address. However, you can designate an alternative email if you wish. If you are unsure of your Cal Poly email address, you can look it up by going to the Cal Poly web page to find your exact email address. If you enter an incorrect email address and do not receive your password within a few hours, contact the system administrator by clicking on the link provided on the main logon web page (URL above). Once your logon has been activated by using it at least once, it will remain active as long as you are at Cal Poly Pomona. 

Once you logged in, you may change your password to something easy for you to remember. If you forgot your password, you can retrieve your password by clicking “Lost your password?” in the lower left corner of the screen. You should be able to find the password in an email sent automatically to your email account. If you do not find the automatic email, the email may be trapped in the junk email folder by junk email filters of your email system, which is often a default feature in many email systems. This will be problematic, especially if your email system uses very aggressive filters. There are a few ways to resolve the issues. First, check your junk email folder to find an email. Second, add the administrator email address ( to the list of email addresses that are acceptable senders. The second approach will ensure all future emails (for example, appointment confirmation email, reminder email) arrive in your inbox. 

Before you can sign up for an appointment for a specific research study, you must choose the course in which you were told to participate in studies, so that the credits you will get are assigned to the course. You normally do this when you create your account. However, if you already have an account, you can adjust classes in a different way. That is, select the “My Profile” link at the top of the screen. (Using “My Profile,” you can also change your password and enter an optional telephone number or an additional email address.) At the bottom of the profile screen there is a link that says “Change Courses.” When you click on it, a list of the available courses appears. Highlight each course you wish to select. (Use the CTRL key to select multiple courses.) Remember to click on “Update” to save your selection. Later, when you schedule appointments, you will be able to assign your credit to the courses you have selected. After you have earned credits, you can also reassign them to different courses. Please do not select all the courses that appear in the list, as this will make you appear in all the class participation reports that we send to all the instructors and they will be confused with the extra students in their lists. 

To sign up for a study, click on the “Studies” link at the top of the page. You can search for studies by date (to fit your schedule), or click on “View All Studies” to see a list of all studies with available appointment times. Click on the name of the study or the “Timeslots Available” link to find out more about the study. However, note that there are times when studies may not be available. That is especially true in the early part of the quarter. Once a study is available, there will be a deadline for participation in the study. Depending on the number of participants needed or space available in the lab, a given study may be scheduled for only a few days a week for one or two weeks. Also, note that there will be a limited number of studies available in a given quarter. Thus, it is important not to procrastinate if your instructor required you to get a certain number of sona credits. There may not be a sufficient number of studies available to make up the lost opportunity if you miss the original study. To sign up, first select the course (just one) that you wish to assign your credit to, then click on the “Sign Up” button. Be sure to copy down the location and time of the study. (You also will be sent a reminder, but it may not contain the location, contact info or other details.) After you participate, your course instructor will be notified that you earned credit for being in that study at the end of the quarter. You will receive an email confirmation for each appointment you sign up for. 

You will also receive an email reminder 24 hours before the appointment. It is your responsibility to cancel appointments that you cannot attend, at least five hours before the appointment time. If you fail to show up and do not cancel your appointment in advance, you may be held to participate in any future studies or given a penalty equal to the amount of credit offered for that study. Penalties reduce the total amount of credits earned. They also remove your previous credit assignments, so you will need to reassign all your previously earned credits to your courses. To remove a penalty, you may sign up for additional studies. Researchers also are expected to give you advance notice if they must cancel an appointment. If a researcher cancels the appointment, no credit will be given and you should sign up for a different study (or schedule another time for that same study). If the researcher does not show up and failed to cancel the appointment at least eight hours in advance, you will automatically be given credit for participation. Contact the system administrator if this does not happen. Make sure your email mailbox does not become full—important messages may be bounced by the system. Sometimes, emails may be trapped in the junk email box. Make sure your email address is correct in the system. Delete mail or contact the Cal Poly Pomona help desk if you are not getting email. 

You must assign each credit earned to a particular class. Each credit can only be counted for one course. You can change credit assignments at any time up until the last day of class during the quarter as long as your instructors are okay with it. The last day to make changes to credit assignments is midnight of the last day of classes. It is a good idea to check your assignments during the last week of classes, especially if you have earned any penalties, since assignments must be redone after a penalty. No changes can be made by students during finals week or after instruction has ended. This time is needed to prepare reports for instructors so they can calculate student grades.

Participants' rights

As a participant in business studies, you have the right to leave a study at any time if you wish to do so, without penalty. If you object to participation in a specific study and there are no alternative studies you would like to participate in, you can ask the researcher to give you an alternate task (e.g., writing a short reaction essay to an article). If there is a shortage of studies posted during the quarter, your system administrator will provide you with an alternate assignment or another way of earning credit.

If you need technical assistance

Enrolling in sona systems (Business Research Subject Pool Management System) is the responsibility of students themselves, and overall procedures and answers to frequently asked questions are listed above. However, we understand that even with your best efforts, you may fail to navigate the system successfully. If this is the case, please contact Allen Lu, behavioral lab administrator, for help.

Allen Lu 
Behavioral Lab Administrator 
College of Business Administration 
Cal Poly Pomona 
Tel: (909) 869-4432 
Fax: (909) 869-4353

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