497-228: Hawk Pool: Creating the Next Generation of Cloud-Based Research Participant Management Software

Meeting Days/Time
Tuesdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Carrie Blumenfeld (ID) (cblumenfeld@id.iit.edu) and Twisha Shah-Brandenburg (ID) (shah.twisha@gmail.com)
Appropriate Disciplines
Technical Innovation

The Illinois Tech Department of Psychology pays for a subscription to use a cloud-based research participant management software called Sona ($1,400/year): https://www.sona-systems.com/default.aspx. Sona software is used by over 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., and is the dominant service provider for academic research. A local Chicago design firm, Gravity Tank, has developed an alternative, cloud platform that is exclusively geared toward virtual research participation for market/consumer behavior research, called dscout: https://dscout.com/research.

The problem facing our Department of Psychology is that Sona and dscout are relatively expensive and not ideally suited for the kinds of research our students and faculty are most commonly (and increasingly) doing. The majority of psychology research studies done at Illinois Tech involve data collection using either online surveys, smartphone apps, or other technologies.

The challenge for the IPRO team is to research, plan and develop a cloud based research participant management software that will achieve the following:

  1. combine the strengths of Sona and dscout;
  2. be more affordable for our Department of Psychology;
  3. be sustainable after the IPRO ends; and
  4. potentially be marketable to other small to medium size departments of psychology, i.e., colleges and universities with fewer than 500 students in their psychology research participant pools.

The IPRO project involves the following sequence of activities, over more than one semester:

  1. Organize and conduct qualitative interviews with the four types of users: system administrators, research participants (psychology students), experimenters (typically faculty and graduate students in the Department of Psychology), and instructors (faculty teaching psychology courses that offer course credit for psychology research participation);
  2. Analyze the two products currently on the market, Sona and d-scout, and explore if there are other commercial alternatives;
  3. Wireframe a Phase 1 software solution;
  4. Develop and beta test that solution:
  5. Launch the website for use at IIT;
  6. Investigate different strategies for supporting maintenance of the site after the IPRO project ends; and
  7. Potentially, launch the website for use by other small to medium size departments of psychology.
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