Frequently Asked Questions
- What is SocialSci? SocialSci is a growing start-up based out of Somerville, MA, near Boston. As a company, our mission is to make the research process easier for all social science academics. We’ve developed an intuitive yet powerful online survey platform capable of handling even the most complex surveys and experiments. We also provide our researchers with access to a large, vetted pool of participants from around the globe. To date, we’ve worked with hundreds of professors, post-docs, and graduate students in fields such as psychology, political science, economics, law, and communication. Although most of our researchers use our services to conduct their research online, we also recruit participants for studies housed at university laboratories.
- Who can use SocialSci? SocialSci was primarily created for academic researchers interested in using browser-based research tools to bring their studies online. However, we also want to engage the public in furthering science. Non-researchers can complete studies available on SocialSci – you're not only encouraging the progress of scientific research, but you’ll also have a lot of fun! You must be over the age of 13 to participate. Certain studies may have other demographic restrictions.
- I'm not a US citizen, can I participate? Yes, SocialSci is global! We have researchers from around the world publishing studies from the data they’ve collected using our survey platform and participant pool. Some studies are restricted to Americans, but others are open to anyone. In the future, we plan to offer Amazon.com gift cards from multiple countries. For now, you can use Amazon.com gift cards for digital goods and other offerings, wherever you're located in the world. We’re working on additional redemption options that don't require the collection of personally identifiable information (such as your email or postal address), and welcome your suggestions!
- I have more questions, what’s the best way to reach SocialSci? If you’re a participant, we urge you to contact us via the secure messaging system. You can also find the Live Help link throughout the site and get an instant response from our support staff. If you’re a researcher, please use the contact-us form on the site. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our newsletter
- What can I do on SocialSci? On SocialSci, you’ll find research studies conducted by academics from around the world. By participating in these studies you’ll learn more about the research process and earn gift cards, points, and badges.
- Is SocialSci free for participants? SocialSci is 100% free for participants. We collect as little personally identifiable information as possible, and what little we do collect is not sold or given to any third-parties.
- What can I earn by using SocialSci? By using SocialSci, you’ll help further science and earn gift cards, points, and badges! SocialSci facilitates interaction between the public and researchers, and your participation enables you to help researchers on the forefront of scientific discovery.
- What information do you collect? To register, participants are required only to provide their cell phone numbers. Your cell phone number is not associated with your account or survey responses; it is used only to prove that you are human (and not a computer pretending to be human!). Our survey system also tracks certain information, like your survey responses over time. This enables our researchers to trust your answers and helps us eliminate bias. Your privacy is very important to us and therefore all user accounts are kept anonymous and secure. We strongly encourage you to choose a username that cannot be used to uniquely identify you (for example, avoid using your name or birth date in your username). You will always have the right to opt out and remove your account from the SocialSci system.
- Is SocialSci secure? Security and privacy are of paramount importance to SocialSci. We use industry standard encryption and security best-practices to keep all data safe: yours and ours. All interactions with our website are secured with SSL, to ensure that your credentials and responses are secure. Your identity is as secure as you make it: Your choice of username is the only thing identifying you in our system. We work with leading security professionals to monitor and review our system design. This is critical in order to get approval from our researchers and the institutions they work under.
- Can you tell me my username? No, unfortunately we cannot tell you your username. Due to our security protocols, we don’t tie your username to your email or phone number, which means we have no way to match you with your username. Please be sure to choose a username that is easy for you to remember.
- How can I reset my password? When you signed up for your account you were asked to complete a security survey. As we don't tie your email to your account, we cannot send you a password recovery email. Instead you can complete the 'forgot your password?' security survey and answer these questions to reset your password.
- How do I resume a survey? In order for our researchers to obtain valid results, all survey responses must be completed in one sitting. If you start a survey but close the window before completing it, you will not be able to take that survey again. We apologize for the inconvenience.
- What is rank? Rank is a way to compare yourself against others SocialSci users. When determining your rank, we take a number of things into account, including the number of studies you’ve taken, and the points and badges you’ve earned. Cred is also considered in your rank score so be sure to take your time and answer studies seriously and honestly! Don’t start a study unless you’re able complete it in one sitting (hint: approximate completion times are listed next to each study). You can't resume studies if you leave after having started.
- What is cred? Cred is a visual representation of your credibility and honesty in the SocialSci platform over time. The more consistent your responses across studies, the more your cred will increase. A high cred score enables you to take higher point value surveys and also makes available surveys by researchers who may have set a minimum cred threshold. Some studies have demographic restrictions on who may take them. Taking a study you’re not qualified for reduces your cred score, so be sure to read carefully! If your cred score drops too low, you will receive an in-system message that your account has received a warning, and you may be denied points and redemptions if you were not eligible to earn them.
- Will I be told my reward is ready? No. Because we do not link your email with your SocialSci account, it is not possible for us to contact you when your gift card becomes available. However, if you log into your account 24 hours after redeeming your points, you will be notified that your gift card is ready.
- Why didn't I get my gift-card yet? Please allow up to 24 hours to receive your gift card. If after 24 hours you have not received your gift card, please log into your account and use the secure messaging system to let us know. This time period gives us the opportunity to review your participation in the SocialSci system. We use a number of factors, including feedback from researchers, to determine if users are trying to ‘game’ the system. If your responses or account come into question, you will see your redemptions delayed, followed by an account warning.
- What does an account warning mean? We take a number of steps to ensure that users are ‘playing by the rules.’ If you’ve taken the research process seriously, you have nothing to worry about and you will not receive this message. Our system flags users and responses that do not meet our quality standards. This drops your cred score, reducing the number of studies you’ll be offered in the future. If your cred score falls far enough, you will receive an in-system warning message. Your account will be reviewed to determine whether any redemptions you’ve submitted are ineligible or fraudulent, and if studies should be offered to you in the future. We welcome your feedback during this process. If it is determined that you have not taken the scientific process seriously, you may lose points and/or rewards—or have your account placed on hold. Also remember you cannot share your account with others—if you do, our system will trigger a warning.
- Why is my account 'on hold'? Although there are many benefits to conducting research online, there are some pitfalls as well. It is especially problematic when participants create multiple accounts or try to take the same survey multiple times. We urge you to take the research process seriously: this is not marketing research, but real scientific research conducted by leading researchers and universities. Researchers demand accurate information from individuals, and we’ve taken a number of steps to limit your ability to create multiple accounts. If you choose to circumvent these measures, our system will detect your actions and place all your accounts on permanent hold, pending an explanation of extenuating circumstances. No new studies will be offered, researchers will be notified that your responses are flagged, and any pending redemptions will be denied.
- Why aren't there more studies? Studies are first-come first-served. Currently, we push three to five studies live per week. As studies are completed, they are removed from the site. Follow us on twitter, Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when new studies are available.
- How can I learn of new studies? We do not associate your email with your username so it’s not possible for us to notify you personally when new studies are available. However, you do have the option to receive our SocialSci newsletter. If you chose to subscribe, you will be notified via email when new studies are available. You can sign up for the SocialSci newsletter when you register, or by visiting your account page. We also announce new studies via twitter, Facebook, and our newsletter.
- Why do you ask for my cell phone? We use cell phone numbers to validate all our users. Your cell phone is used only one time to send you a text message, and it is never linked to the SocialSci account you create.
- Must I receive a text message to signup? We understand that even if you own a cell phone, you may not have a text message plan. Unfortunately, at this time, we require a phone number that receives sms (text) messages. We use the number as a form of authentication to protect our researchers from false- or multiple accounts. We use the number once to send you a verification code and then immediately purge it from our system. We are aware that this method may bias our researchers’ results and we’re exploring other ways to authenticate users. Have an idea? Contact us using the link below.
- How can I subscribe to the newsletter? You may subscribe to the newsletter by entering your email here.
- How can I stop getting the newsletter? You can unsubscribe here, and if you decide to receive it again, signup here.
- Why do some studies list badges? Some studies may have a particular unique attribute, or may not be worth points. By taking the study you can earn badges associated with your username.
- Why are some studies greyed out? Studies typically run for a short period of time after we announce them, as researchers only need a certain number of participants to complete their study. When researchers are actively collecting data, studies are worth points, which can be redeemed for rewards. After our researchers gather enough responses, the study may be republished as an archived study. This will appear grey in your study listing, and won’t be worth any points. Researchers can use the additional responses to strengthen their research, and participants get a chance to see which studies they may have missed in the past.
- How do I delete my account? If you've tried the SocialSci service and no longer have the time or interest in participating, please log into your account and request an account deletion through the SocialSci messaging system. If you are leaving us for a specific reason, we would appreciate feedback on what we can improve. Because we do not link your email address to your username, you also need to unsubscribe from the newsletter. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter here.
- What can I do with SocialSci? SocialSci has all the tools you need to bring your academic research online. We provide our researchers with a powerful survey platform, capable of handling even the most complex survey and experimental designs. We also maintain a large, global pool of participants. With SocialSci, you can create a questionnaire and start—and finish—collecting data from a non-student sample in minutes, not months.
- What is a Drag and Drop survey tool? Our Drag and Drop tool is an innovative survey creator that blends ease-of-use with robust questionnaire-design features. All the question types, branching, and skip logic you need are combined in one user-friendly interface. Forget about sifting through endless menus. Simply select your question-type and drag it into your questionnaire. And adding logic and branching have never been easier! Try it out today!
- What is a PDF-Upload Survey? Our PDF-Upload Survey allows researchers to upload any PDF file and tag content areas. This transforms a normal PDF into a fully actionable questionnaire with the same properties as a piece of paper. Participants can circle, type, click and interact with our PDF-Upload Survey in several unique ways.
- What is the Visual Response Survey? Imagine PowerPoint meets PsychToolBox. This clean and intuitive tool allows researchers to measure response time to the millisecond, all while controlling for screen resolution, Internet latency, and 8 other variables. It is very simple to use but extremely robust.
- Can I export my data? Absolutely! We currently allow you to export your survey responses whole (as clean multi-page PDF documents), in plain text, to excel, to SPSS, and to our custom in-browser analytics, complete with graphs and charts!
- Tell me more about the analytics! Our analytics are populated in real time as participants take your survey and include things you actually care about: Anovas, Correlations, Ttests, Regressions, Chi Squared test, n values, p values, and much more. We also allow you to pre-populate random data so you can see trends ahead of time.
How does the participant pool work?
Our participant pool contains thousands of demographically-diverse individuals from all over the world. If your research requires a particular type of individual, we guarantee they’re in our pool or we’ll find them for you.
Our participant pool also allows us to vet our participants over time. For example, if a participant claims to be 18-years-old in one survey and 55-years-old in another, our systems will let us know and we’ll remove him or her from your sample. We do everything we can to ensure that our users complete your studies carefully and honestly.
Our vetting process also minimizes the effects of demand characteristics. Interested in how sexuality influences attitudes or behaviors but don’t want to prime participants to think about their sexual preferences? Based on responses to past studies, we can provide you with participants with a range of reported sexual preferences. You no longer need to determine eligibility at the start of your study, or publicize your need for a particular type of person.
- Can I use your survey tools and not the pool? Absolutely—though we're confident that you won't find a better online pool than ours.
- How can I put complex experiments online? If you have a complex experiment that involves some outside programming or functions you don't know how to bring online, be sure to check out our SocialSci Pro service. SocialSci has a dedicated staff to ensure your research goals can be met online.
- How much does SocialSci cost me? Signing up for SocialSci is free! Once you sign up, you’ll be able to create surveys and explore the SocialSci participant pool. You’ll only pay for participants who actually take your survey. Contact us if you would like more information, or sign up now to receive free quotes.
- What is SocialSci Pro? SocialSci Pro is a dedicated wing of developers willing to help you port your scientific research onto the online space. Have complex programming issues or tests that can't be covered by the current SocialSci offering? Reach out to us and we will be more then willing to assist you in your academic pursuits!
- How can I learn more about setting up a Pro experiment? Simple! Just contact us and we'll get in touch with you right away.