Sona Systems – Participate in Research Studies (for Global Universities)

Last Updated on January 14, 2022

A while ago, I posted about Chicago Decision Labs. It’s an alternative to Testable Minds which allowed you to participate in Psychological Research-based studies. It was specific to a particular University and was hosted on the “Sona Systems” domain.

What is Sona Systems and Why should I care?

Turns out, Sona Systems is a specialized platform to help Universities around the world conduct psychological research & studies.

It is a very similar implementation to Testable minds, except that every university will have it’s own dedicated page (on a sub-domain) and you will need to separately sign up to each of them.

The SONA online research management system is the full name of the platform, and universities need to partner with them to get their own dedicated sub-domain. The software is meant to allow these Universities to:

  • Create studies with a number of timeslots
  • Allow the study to run at the specified timeslots
  • Allow participants to view a list of studies and claim a timeslot
  • Grant or revoke credit to participants after a study session

Now comes the interesting part. A lot of universities allow people from around the world to participate in these studies. Most of them are hosted on the Sona Systems platform.

Moreover, the studies are not technical in any sense and can be understood by anyone with technical expertise. You are required to follow very simple instructions to participate in them.

This way, you can participate in a lot of psychological research studies and earn a considerable amount of money doing so.

How to find Universities conducting studies with SONA?

It’s simple. A quick google search of “list of Sona-Systems sites” will return a huge list of participating universities with their sona-systems sub domain.

The only problem is that there is no unified portal, so you will need to signup for all of them separately.

how to search for paid psychological research studies
how to find SONA links for paid studies

Try signing up for as many universities as you like. Note that not all universities might be accepting international participants. Scroll down to find a list of some of the universities accepting them.

Since most of these studies are for educational purposes, the universities usually offer a gift card for your participation in them.

But I found that several universities/studies were paying through Paypal as well

List of some Universities accepting global participants

Note that this is not the complete list. There are a lot more universities accepting global participants for their studies. This is just something to get you started.

You can manually find out other universities by doing a google search for “sona-systems” and going through the different search results.

How much can I earn and how do I exchange gift cards for cash?

Just like before, psychological studies are nothing more than beer money for 2 simple reasons: There is no consistent work and a lot of them pay though gift cards.

Even though you might increase your earnings by a huge margin by participating in studies from multiple universities, do not rely on them.

I personally categorize it as beer money, but some people might be able to categorize them as a source of part-time income.

The earnings vary from 5-20$ per hour on an average, and can be more or less depending on the duration and complexity of the study. 

Here is the payment proof of an Amazon Gift Card I got from participating in one of their studies:

SONA system payment proof gift card

You might also need to find a suitable website/person that can convert your gift cards to PayPal money. Even though there are several subreddits, discord groups, and websites dedicated to this, you should always be wary of scammers.

There are several gift card marketplaces that offer to convert your gift cards to cash. Search for “Gift card marketplaces *YOUR COUNTRY*” on google to get a list of such sites relevant to your country.

Though I cannot recommend any specific site, you can try They are mentioned on the Paypal support pages, due to which it’s legitimacy can be trusted.

You can also check out this article from the Penny Hoarder regarding the top gift card marketplaces.

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6 thoughts on “Sona Systems – Participate in Research Studies (for Global Universities)”

  1. Ankush Santra

    Thank You Sir for the amazing article. It’s asking for User ID and it’s mandatory. What shall I have to fill in that?

    1. You will be provided a User ID after registering on the website. Some of the SONA system websites only allow University students and professors to sign up, and hence you might not be provided with the User ID. Try another website if it happens.

  2. nav8

    the university SONA systems that i could get user id and password of, were giving credits or tokens for completing studies and i’m not sure how that can be converted into money or git cards. Can you tell me more about this?

    1. If they are giving credits then they are meant for the students of that university.
      Verify that you are creating an outsider account (all websites don’t support these accounts, so you may need to skip some websites).

      Participating as a student won’t do you any good.

  3. Anas

    How to open an Outsider account?

    1. Not all the SONA system sites allow opening outsider account. You will explicitly see the option on most of the sites.
      If you are signing up and they ask for your student ID, then it is probably the wrong form you are filling. Or the website does not allow outsiders to participate.

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