The Political Science Experimental Participant Pool (PSEPP) is designed to introduce students to political science research and is an important part of your Political Science course. To complete the research component, you must earn eight (8) research credits during this semester. Credits earned during previous semesters cannot be used toward the requirement this semester, but if you are enrolled in multiple PSEPP courses this semester, you can use the same credits for both courses.

Research credits may be earned three ways:

Option A – Study Participation:
  • Participate in research studies conducted by faculty and graduate students within the Political Science Department (usually 1-2 credits per study).
Option B – Article Reports:
  • Read and summarize research articles written by political science faculty (2 credits each). Articles are available in your course's PSEPP Module.
Option C – Combination:
  • Complete the required 8 credits through a combination of Option A (study participation) and Option B (article reports).

You can find the full GUIDELINE containing the explanation of every option at the very bottom of this page.

All PSEPP research projects are reviewed by UNL’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that your rights as a participant are protected. If you have questions or concerns about your status as a research participant, please contact the PSEPP or the UNL IRB. There is no requirement that you earn research credits by participating in research studies (Option A/C)—you may choose instead to earn all 8 credits through article reports (Option B) without any penalty.

Detailed instructions for study participation and article reports are provided below. Please read these sections carefully, as most questions are addressed in this document. General questions about PSEPP can be directed to PSEPP. Questions about specific research studies should be addressed to the Researcher in charge of that study, whose contact information is available through the PSEPP website. Questions about research article reports should be addressed to your course TA(s) or Instructor.

Important Deadlines for Fall 2024:

 Friday, Septermber 13th, 2024 (11:59 p.m.)

Activate/Update your Sona Account

(required for Option A or C)

 Friday, September 20th, 2024 (11:59 p.m.)

Participate in PSEPP Prescreening Survey

(recommended for Option A or C)

 Friday, December 6th, 2024 (11:59 p.m.)

Final deadline to complete research credits

(applies to Options A, B, and C) 

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact PSEPP to discuss their individual needs for accommodation. It is a UNL policy to provide individualized accommodations to students with documented disabilities that may affect their ability to fully participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. To receive accommodation services, students must be registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 232 Canfield Administration, 472-3787 voice or TTY.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about PSEPP Account Creation

What if I participated in PSEPP during a previous semester? Credits are deleted at the end of each semester, so you will start over at zero, but your account should still exist in the PSEPP website. Students log in to PSEPP using their UNL credentials. If you have an account from a previous semester, that account will be merged with your UNL account the first time you log back in. This should happen automatically if you previously used your UNL email address for the account, but might require manual updating if you used a different email address. Reach out to PSEPP if you have any trouble logging in. Once you log in, you will be asked to update your profile where you can select the course(s) you are currently enrolled in.

What if I am enrolled in multiple PSEPP courses this semester? Your credits can be used toward the research requirement in both courses (as long as you are enrolled in both at the same time). When you set up your account, please make sure you select BOTH courses you are enrolled in so that both Instructors will receive the report from us at the end of the semester.

Questions about Research Study Participation

I participated in an online study – why haven’t my credits been awarded? Credit for online studies is usually awarded automatically after the study is completed on Qualtrics. This process can sometimes fail if not set up properly. If you finished a study, hit submit, and still do not see credit awarded 12-24 hours later, please contact the Researcher for that study directly through the PSEPP website.

I participated in a lab study – why haven’t my credits been awarded? Researchers have to manually award credit for in-person lab experiments. They are advised to do so promptly, but please wait at least 24-48 hours before contacting the Researcher to ask about missing credits. If your credit has not been awarded a week after participation, please do let the Researcher know – it is possible they just forgot to award credit for that session.

Questions about Article Reports

What if I am not sure how or where to submit my article reports? Article reports should be submitted to your course TA(s) or Instructor. Most TAs / Instructors will use Canvas for this, but it is up to them to determine the exact method for article report submission in their course. Please consult your course syllabus and then contact your TA or Instructor with questions.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? Cannot find what you are looking for? E-mail us at or check with your course TA(s) or Instructor.

More about PSEPP's OPTIONS for Students:

Option A: Study Participation

Participation in research studies is completed through the PSEPP Website

Step 1: Request an Account on the PSEPP Website

To earn credits by participating in research studies, you are required to activate your account on the PSEPP Website, where projects are administered. Your request needs to be manually approved by the PSEPP administrators before you can log into your account and begin participating in research studies, so please allow 1-2 business days for account approval. You should activate your account as early as possible because new studies will become available throughout the semester and may be available for a limited time. We recommend bookmarking the website (and/or downloading the Sona Systems app which is available for iOS and Android), so that you can check the site on a regular basis.

Once your account activation request is approved, you will be automatically assigned a PSEPP number (a five-digit unique identity code). You will use this code to participate in research studies, and this is how your anonymity will be preserved — Researchers will only ever see this number, never your name. You will want to memorize or write down this number so that you have it available when participating in research studies, as this is how your participation will be recorded. It is your responsibility to know this number and to correctly enter it for each research study you participate in. If there are any mistakes, there is a possibility that your participation will not be properly recorded and credited. If this happens, you can contact the researcher through the PSEPP website to resolve any problems.

How to request, and access, a PSEPP account:

  • Go to the PSEPP website.
  • Click on “MyUNL ID - Log In” and log in with your UNL credentials*.
  • Then, click "Request Account"
  • You will see your first and last name, Canvas ID, and UNL e-mail address prefilled by the system. If any of these details are incorrect, please email PSEPP with the changes.
  • Select the political science course(s) you are currently enrolled in [semester – course – Instructor]. There are multiple courses in the system each semester, and failure to select the appropriate course will mean your credits will not be reported appropriately.
  • Once your request is approved by the PSEPP office, you will receive an e-mail.
  • Use your UNL credentials to log into your account.

*If you have participated in PSEPP during prior semesters, your account may be deactivated. If you have difficulty logging in to PSEPP, please reach out to PSEPP so we can reactivate your account manually. Once you log in, you will be asked to update your profile where you can select the course(s) you are currently enrolled in.

Failure to create an account by the deadline means that you will not be eligible to earn credits by participating in research studies (Option A/C) and you will only be able to earn credits by writing article reports (Option B).

Step 2: Complete the Prescreening Survey through the PSEPP Website

You are encouraged to complete the Political Science Department Prescreening Survey at the beginning of the semester. This survey takes approximately 50-60 minutes and is worth 2 research credits. Completing the prescreening survey gives you the opportunity to be contacted by Researchers for additional studies and may provide access to additional studies through PSEPP. Participation in the prescreening survey is not required, but if you do not participate in the prescreening survey, your participation in the pool may be limited.

To participate in the prescreening survey:

  • Log in to your PSEPP account (see instructions above);
  • Locate “Political Science Prescreening Survey” in the list of experiments;
  • Sign up for a timeslot, and you will be provided with a link to complete the survey;
  • Complete the survey prior to the deadline to receive credit.

Step 3: Participate in Research Studies

Once you have a PSEPP account, you can browse available research opportunities by logging in to the PSEPP. Some research studies can be completed online (anytime), while others require in-person participation (specific dates & times) on campus in one of the labs in Oldfather Hall or the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior (see COVID-19 Information below). When you click on a study in the system, you will be able to view detailed information about it, such as the location of the study, the participation deadline, the specific appointment times available for in-person studies, and the researcher(s)’ contact information.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • To complete all 8 credits through study participation (Option A), you will need to participate in approximately 4-8 studies over the course of the semester. Studies are typically worth 1 or 2 credits each. If choosing Option C (combination), you can participate in any number of studies and earn the remaining credits by writing article reports.
  • Credits are awarded based on half-hour increments: 0-30 minutes = 1 credit; 30-60 minutes = 2 credits. This is predetermined by the Researcher based on the estimated length of studies, which should be visible on the PSEPP website when you are signing up for research opportunities.
  • To earn credit by participating in research studies you will need to know your PSEPP number, which can be found on the PSEPP website under the "my profile" tab. It is listed under your name as your "identity code" and is usually a five-digit number.
  • To protect your identity, Researchers will only have access to this code and will not have access to your name. Make sure you know this number and can enter it in online or lab studies or provide it to the Researcher for attendance when requested. Incorrectly entering this number may result in an issue with your participation credit.
  • You will not be able to participate in most studies more than once and may not be able to reschedule a missed appointment unless you contact the Researcher at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment.
  • Because studies will become available throughout the semester and may only be available for a limited time, it is important that you spread participation out across the semester and check the site for opportunities on a regular basis.

How to participate in research studies:

  • Log into your account on the PSEPP website.
  • Click on the 'studies' tab. Here you will be able to view any opportunities that are available for you to participate in.
  • To find information about the study (location, study details, duration) click on the 'study information' tab.
  • To sign up for the study, click 'sign up'.
  • Once you sign up for an appointment, you will receive an e-mail with information about the study (date/time/deadline, location, and the Researcher’s contact information). You can also view these details on the website. It is your responsibility to keep track of this information.
  • For in-person lab studies: attend the appointment and participate in the study. If you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment for any reason, you should contact the Researcher at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment. Credit will not be awarded for missed appointments and you may not be able to reschedule the appointment unless you notify the researcher in advance.
  • For online studies: once you sign up for a timeslot, you will be able to view a link to complete the study online. These studies can be completed in any location, at any time, but participation must be completed by the deadline. Most studies will need to be completed in one session, so we recommend a quiet location free from distractions and allowing sufficient time to complete the study.
  • Keep a record of the studies you participate in, just in case there are any problems with credits being awarded. Credit for online studies should be awarded automatically, while credit for lab studies is manually awarded by the Researcher and may take a few days.

Option B: Article Reports

Article reports are submitted to your course TA(s) or Instructor, typically through Canvas.

Each semester, we select six peer-reviewed journal articles recently published by Political Science faculty, graduate students, and/or alumni. These are the articles that are available to read and write article reports on to fulfill Option B (or C) for the research requirement. These articles will be available in your course's Canvas Module.

Article reports should be submitted to your TA(s) or course instructor, typically through Canvas. The exact submission method is determined by your TA or Instructor, so check with them if you have any questions about this. Each report that earns a passing grade is worth 2 research credits. To earn a passing grade, the report should clearly indicate that you read the article, and that you have a reasonable understanding of it (see specific guidelines below). These reports are due to your course TA(s) or Instructor.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • To complete all 8 credits through article reports (Option B), you will need to complete (and receive a passing grade) for 4 article reports (2 credits each * 4 = 8 credits). If choosing Option C (combination), you can submit 1, 2, or 3 article reports and earn the remaining credits from participating in research studies.
  • You cannot earn credit this semester for research article reports from a previous semester. However, if you are enrolled in multiple PSEPP courses this semester, these article reports can be submitted to each of these courses, so that they will "count" toward the credit requirement in each course.
  • Journal articles are usually somewhat lengthy and can be challenging to read, especially if you have not read many of these in the past. If you choose to complete some or all of your credits through article reports, we recommend spreading this out over the course of the semester, so you are not trying to write all four reports in a short period of time.

Article Report guidelines:


  • 2 typed, double-spaced pages
  • Standard 12-point font (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial)
  • One-inch margins
  • Save your report as a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or PDF file (.pdf).
  • Submit this report through Canvas, unless your TA(s) or Instructor have requested otherwise (Mac users — please do not submit .pages files on Canvas. Instead, convert the file to a PDF).

Each article report should address the following:

(1) Provide an overview of the article

  • Which article did you read?
  • What was the central question the Researchers were trying to answer?
  • How did the paper try to answer that question?
  • What did they find?

(2) Summarize your own thoughts about and reaction to the article

  • Did you find the article convincing? Why or why not?
  • Were there any problems with the ideas? The research design? The conclusions?
  • Did this article give you ideas for future research? Could it be applied to problems in the real world?



Faculty coordinator:
Dr. Pierce Ekstrom

Research coordinator:
Zeenat Ahmed

Need to set up a meeting? 

Send us an email at!