Guidance for Conducting Studies Online

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This page will be updated throughout the year; please check back before submitting an online study.

Submitting Proposals for Studies Conducted Online

When the study itself will be conducted online, PIs are required to the draft the actual online study and include a link to the online platform in their proposal, preferably in preview mode so it can be viewed multiple times from a reviewer's device.

PIs are also required to submit all documents that are part of the online portion of the study (e.g., consent forms, surveys, questionnaires, etc.). In order to avoid any inconsistencies regarding these documents, the IRB asks that PIs do the following:

  • include a link to the online study; and
  • copy and paste all documents from the online platform directly into the proposal attachment for the final draft of the proposal. If this is not feasible, please contact the IRB office.

Online Platforms

The most common online survey sites currently used by PIs at The College of Brockport are Qualtrics and Survey Monkey. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is becoming more popular as well. Because collected data may be kept on Qualtrics for 3 or more years, the IRB asks that student PIs use their faculty advisor's Qualtrics accounts so that the data is remains accessible for the full amount of time necessary.

The College of Brockport IRB does not require or promote the use of any specific online platform for study use, but any online platform use does need to meet IRB guidelines to protect participant data.

Survey Monkey has information about IRB on its site as well.  

Online Settings

It is important to enable SSL encryption. Sensitive data must be protected as it moves along communication pathways between the respondent’s computer and any online servers.

For studies where the data is being collected anonymously, the PI should disable the IP address tracking.

Online Consent

Studies that need to document consent: In most cases, radio buttons indicating I am 18 and over and I consent to participate in this study or I do not consent are sufficient to indicate informed consent. If a potential participant chooses to consent, they should be brought to the first page of the study. If they choose not to consent, they should be brought to a page indicating this result has been noted. There is a template specifically for online studies requiring documented consent on the Forms page.

Studies with IRB-approved waiver of documented consent: Neither signatures nor radio buttons indicating consent are needed for studies where the IRB has approved a waiver of documented consent. Instead, the consent statement should clearly state that by submitting the questionnaire, survey, etc., the participant is certifying they are over 18 and consent to participate. There is a template specifically for online studies with a waiver of signed consent on the Forms page.


PI are allowed to collect contact information from participants--such as e-mail addresses--for the sole purpose of contacting them regarding compensation after they submit their responses. Participants should be directed to a separate page unconnected to the original online study. This ensures confidentiality of participant responses.

Online Recruitment

Whether recruitment occurs online or in person, the IRB must approve all recruitment materials. This includes any social media postings, MTurk recruitment or SONA announcements.

Social Media: The PI must specify the social media platform(s) they are planning to use for recruitment. Within the recruitment post, the PI must be identified as a researcher. The PI must also provide written permission from the holder of the social media account if it is not the PI. Be aware that some social media groups do not allow researchers to recruit.

SONA: Researchers use SONA to recruit and award credit to student participants and is used for on-campus of recruitment of students only.  SONA administration occurs through the Psychology department. Pre-screening criteria for participation in a given study is posted on SONA before the beginning of every semester and must be pre-approved by the IRB.

MTurk recruitment: Amazon Mechanical Turk is a website where you can post short tasks and have workers quickly and easily perform these tasks for small sums of money. As with all other recruitment materials, MTurk recruitment postings must be approved by the IRB before they go live. MTurk can be accessed here.

Last Updated 5/24/18

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