Psychology Research Pool

What is the Research Pool?

Background and Purpose

A large body of research literature in psychology has historically employed undergraduate students as research participants. The use of an identifiable population having the common characteristics of undergraduate status provides a degree of homogeneity of subject population over the years. Moreover, one of the most important goals of the Psychology Department’s undergraduate program is to acquaint students with issues and methods of psychological inquiry.

The Psychology Research Pool (PRP) is an administrative mechanism that (a) offers a convenient way for undergraduate students enrolled in psychology courses to gain experience with a broad range of psychological research, and (b) furnishes faculty and graduate students in the Psychology Department with participants for their research projects. Student participation in the PRP is entirely voluntary. The PRP is designed to ensure that consistent and proper procedures are followed by all researchers for the protection of the participants. It is also designed to make participation by the students as easy and educational as possible. Every research study in the PRP must be individually approved by a UW Institutional Review Board committee, or it must receive approval for exempt status from UW Human Subjects Division staff. Consequently, they must be accompanied by a consent form, or by an Information Statement. Also, some projects have signed consent/assent waived. Research sessions are conducted on a daily basis throughout the quarter, including summer quarter.


The PRP is managed by the Research Pool Manager (a psychology graduate student, who is employed to conduct the day-to-day operations) and by the Human Subjects Coordinator (a faculty member, who oversees the operation). The PRP office is located in Guthrie Hall, room 232.

Who has access to the PRP? Psychology faculty (including postdoctoral research associates) and graduate students may utilize the PRP. Psychology adjunct faculty have access on an availability basis (i.e., during quarters in which sufficient student credit hours are available). However, non-psychology graduate students and postdoctoral research associates working with adjunct faculty do not have access to the PRP.

Students in selected lower-division psychology courses may voluntarily participate in the PRP in return for extra credit in that class, which is pedagogically justifiable so long as participation is a learning experience. In essence, students enroll in a web-based Participant Registry, after which they may sign up for research sessions on the PRP’s Online Research Pool Program (ORPP). Study information including study name, description, credit amount, and investigator are provided on the ORPP. The online program allows students to pick and choose the studies they would like participate in and allows for easy sorting of research sessions based on their availability. It is accessible 24 hours a day and offers online cancellation and up to date viewing of credit earned throughout the quarter. Further, the ORPP provides participants with the contact information of researchers conducting particular studies and sends reminder E-mails for scheduled research sessions.

Before a research session begins, its background, purpose, procedures, and any possible risks, stresses, or invasions of privacy are explained to the student. If the student wishes to participate, s/he then completes the Informed Consent process by signing a Consent Form or an Information Statement. A student may cancel participation for any reason (up to 2 hours in advance) and may withdraw from the research session for any reason at any time in the session without loss of benefits to which s/he is otherwise entitled.


Studies that involve more than minimal risk to the subject generally are not included in the PRP. Minimal risk is defined as risk not exceeding that normally encountered in daily life. However, in some cases, the research deals with sensitive aspects of the subject’s own behavior, such as illegal conduct, drug use, sexual behavior, use of alcohol, or various aspects of family behavior. The nature of any specific risk, stress, invasion of privacy, or discomfort associated with a specific research project is covered in the consent form for that study. A document entitled “Information About the PRP: Information for Students” directs students how to proceed, if they believe that a study is being conducted in an inappropriate or unsafe fashion, or if there is any problem associated with their involvement in the PRP.


Students who participate in the PRP may receive an educational experience. Neither failure to participate nor withdrawal from participation will result in loss of benefits or a reduction in the course grade to which the student is otherwise entitled.