College of Science and Health | DePaul University > Academics > Psychology > Research > Credit Granting for Online External Studies

Credit Granting for Online External Studies

Online external studies are online studies which are not hosted within the Experiment Signup System (http://depaul.sona-systems.com), but instead reside on some other website. This is different from online survey studies where an online survey is set up directly in the system and no other website is involved.

For online external studies, you may want to develop some method of linking the participant’s sign-up in the system to your online study, so you know who to grant credit to.  One way to do this is to ask the participant’s identity code using a separate survey so that you can use that code to award credit. The most automated (though complicated to set up) approach is to use the External Study Credit Granting feature, where the participant receives credit automatically as soon as they finish the study.

Note that if External Study Credit Granting is not used, the system will not automatically grant credit once the participant has finished the study, and the reason is that the system does not know when something occurred on a website outside the system. In this case, researchers should routinely login and grant credit as necessary.

External Study Credit Gran​ting

With External Study Credit Granting, a participant can receive credit as soon as they finish the online external study. This is accomplished by having the external study notify the system that the participant has completed the study and thus deserves credit. 

The notification to the system is done by accessing the Completion URL for the study. A properly-configured study will have up to two Completion URLs:

  1. Client-Side Completion URL: If this URL is loaded, the participant will receive credit. Typically, this URL would be loaded by the participant clicking on a link in their browser, or the participant being redirected to this link after completing the study. This is the most common method used for commercial survey products like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics.
  2. Server-Side Completion URL: This URL would typically be loaded by the external study (not clicked by the end-user participant) and is a server-to-server communication between the external study and the system. The results are returned in XML format and may be parsed by the external study. This method would be used when you have full control over the external study, like if it is programmed from a Perl script. It also provides more control and security than the client-side method.

You should use only one completion URL to achieve credit granting. For most commercial online survey products, and also if you are not familiar with programming, then the client-side completion URL is likely the most appropriate option. To avoid confusion, the system will only display the client-side completion URL if a commercial survey product is being used and is known to support only the client-side completion URL.

To see the completion URLs for your study, first ensure the study is set up correctly as an online external study. Then, enter the URL for the external site in the Study URL field in Change Study Information, and save your changes. Next, click on Change Study Information again and modify the Study URL to include %SURVEY_CODE% in the URL in the appropriate place. If you entered the URL for a commercial product like SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, or Inquisit, then the system will display help text just below the URL with a suggestion for how to include this. Save your changes, and the Completion URLs should now appear on the resulting study information page. In short, the Completion URLs will appear as long as there is %SURVEY_CODE% anywhere in the Study URL.

 

The client-side completion URL will look something like this:

http://depaul.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&survey_code=XXXX

(where XXXX is the code that identifies your survey for granting credit in the system)

 

The server-side completion URL will look something like this (if displayed):

http://yourschool.sona-systems.com/services/SonaAPI.svc/WebstudyCredit?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&survey_code=XXXX

In the example, the XXXX at the end is to show where the survey code number should be placed (in place of XXXX) by the external study website. For SurveyMonkey studies, the client-side completion URL will be slightly different from the example above in the names of parameters, due to a limitation in how the SurveyMonkey product handles parameter names.


The next step is you’ll need to configure the online external study to receive the survey code number from the system at the start of the study, and also to load one of the completion URLs at the end of the study, while replacing XXXX with the survey code number and pass that to the system in the completion URL. Because this involves configuring the external study which is not part of the system, then how this is accomplished depends on the external study. Usually it involves setting up the survey code number as some type of variable that is passed in via the URL, and then configuring a redirect URL at the end of the study to be loaded, with this variable in the URL.

 

As this is a complicated feature, the best method to test it is to actually login to the system as a fake participant. The entire credit granting process is not possible to test as a researcher, since researchers cannot sign up for studies. To ensure other (real) participants do not sign up for the study while you are testing it, add an Invitation Code to the study (you can remove it later).

The configuration directions for some popular survey products are below, based on information from those vendors.

External Study Credit Granting with SurveyM​onkey

With SurveyMonkey, note that some of the features used within SurveyMonkey may vary depending on your subscription level with SurveyMonkey.

 

Here are the basic steps, which are subject to change (since the product is controlled by SurveyMonkey):

  1. In the system, change the Study URL so it includes %SURVEY_CODE% in the URL. So if the SurveyMonkey URL is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H2Y9H27 then change it to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H2Y9H27?c=%SURVEY_CODE%
  2. In SurveyMonkey, configure the survey to accept the survey code number, as a collector.
  3. In SurveyMonkey, configure the Survey Completion option to “redirect to your own webpage”, and provide the Client-Side Completion URL from the system. However, you need to change the XXXX at the end of the URL, and instead have SurveyMonkey put in the survey_code number passed to the collector. If Steps 1 and 2 were completed correctly, then you simply need to remove the &c=XXXX from the end of Client-Side Completion URL and place the remaining text in SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey will add in the parameter automatically when it redirects the user. So if the client-side completion URL was http://yourschool.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&c=XXXX then enter it in SurveyMonkey as http://yourschool.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8 [Note &_c=XXXX was removed.] 

These features are described on SurveyMonkey’s site at the following URLs:

External Study Credit Granting with Qu​altrics

With Qualtrics, it is best to follow the URL listed below that describes the process in detail on the Qualtrics website. In that document, “panel company” refers to our system, and you will only need to focus on the Complete Response Link. The Screen-Out Link and Over Quota links are not applicable or implemented in this situation.

Here are the basic steps, which are subject to change (since the product is controlled by Qualtrics):

  1. In the system, change the Study URL so it includes %SURVEY_CODE% in the URL. So if the Qualtrics URL is https://depaul.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_b9ZD41hMZaqE then change it to https://depaul.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_b9ZD41hMZaqE&id=%SURVEY_CODE%
  2. In Qualtrics, configure the survey to accept the survey code number, as an embedded data field named “id”. Remember to use lower-case as this is case-sensitive.
  3. In Qualtrics, configure the Survey Flow option to “Redirect to a URL” at the end of the survey, and provide the Client-Side Completion URL from the system. However, you need to change the XXXX at the end of the URL, and instead have Qualtrics put in the survey_code number passed as embedded data. So if the client-side completion URL was http://depaul.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&survey_code=XXXX then enter it in Qualtrics as http://depaul.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&survey_code=${e://Field/id} 

These features are described on Qualtrics’ site at the following URL:

 

External Study Credit Granting ​with Inquisit

Inquisit is a product offered by Millisecond Software, and the instructions below apply to Inquisit Web Edition only.

Here are the basic steps, which are subject to change (since the product is controlled by Millisecond):

  1. In the system, change the Study URL so it includes %SURVEY_CODE% in the URL. So if the Inquisit URL is http://research.millisecond.com/myexperiment.web then change it to http://research.millisecond.com/myexperiment.web ?survey_code=%SURVEY_CODE%
  2. In Inquisit, use the webscript registration wizard to configure the survey to accept the survey code number. On the part where it asks how to generate subject IDs, select Query Parameter and enter in “survey_code”.
  3. In Inquisit, configure the Finish Page URL, and provide the Client-Side Completion URL from the system. However, you need to change the XXXX at the end of the URL, and instead have Inquisit put in the survey_code number passed as embedded data, which it will do automatically so the main change it to remove it from the finish page URL. So if the client-side completion URL was http://yourschool.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8&survey_code=XXXX then enter it in Inquisit as http://yourschool.sona-systems.com/webstudy_credit.aspx?experiment_id=170&credit_token=9185d436e5f94b1581b0918162f6d7e8 [Note &survey_code=XXXX was removed.] 

These features are described on Millisecond’s site at the following URL:

 

Client-Side Completion URL Resp​onses

For help in testing, listed below are the possible messages that the participant will see when they are redirected to the client-side completion URL. Note that if the system has a language enabled other than English, then the message will be displayed in the participant’s preferred language, instead of English (unless their language preference is English of course).

 

Status Message

Explanation

Web study credit successfully granted.

The credit was granted successfully.

Invalid experiment_id or credit_token.

The experiment_id or credit_token in the completion URL was invalid. As this does not change for each participant, this is most likely to occur if the completion URL was somehow incomplete or truncated.

Invalid survey_code.

The survey_code was not specified at all, or was blank. This may indicate the external study is not properly placing the survey_code in the completion URL.

Invalid survey_code. ## [some number]

The survey_code was provided, but is not valid for this study.

You have already received credit for this study. / You have already participated in this study.

The participant has already participated in this study and received credit/been marked as participated.

You are not eligible to participate in this study.

The participant has already signed up for this study, but has been marked as a no-show, and has no other signups for this study which are in Awaiting Action state.

Web study credit grant error. ## [some number]

Some other generic error. Please contact Technical Support for more information.