When a participant joins your study, Ethica automatically calculates his or her participation start and end time. This represents the period during which you can present surveys and experience samplings to your participant, ask them to complete a cognitive task, or collect sensor data. Participants can always check this period and see how far they are in their participation using the Ethica app.

Setting this period correctly is very important because Ethica does not perform any data collection outside this time window.

The participation period does not have to be identical for all participants. It's common that in a given study, each participant has his or her own individual participation period. When setting up your study, you can define how this period should be calculated for each new participant. This can be done by adjusting three values, as described below.

Participation Start Time:

This refers to the time that you expect the participation to start. If you mark this as Open using its corresponding checkbox, the participation starts as soon as the participant joins your study. If you set this to a specific date, the participation starts either on the date you specified or at the time the participant joins the study, whichever is the latter.

Participation End Time:

This refers to the time you expect the participation to end. If you mark this as Open using its corresponding checkbox, the participation continues indefinitely. If you set this to a specific date, the participation ends for all participants on this date. In this case, new participants cannot join past the specified date.

Participation Duration:

This refers to the number of days you expect the participant to be part of the study. This value should be greater than or equal to 1, and cannot have decimal points. Participation duration is interpreted differently depending on the values assigned to the participation start time and end time. You can either set this to a specific number of days or mark it as From start to end using its corresponding checkbox.

Different settings for Participation Period

For each of the 3 values we defined above, you can either set them or check their corresponding checkboxes. This gives you 8 different ways you can adjust your study's participation period. In this section, we define each of these cases and give examples of how they are calculated.

Check All Checkboxes

If you check all these checkboxes, it means participants start their participation as soon as they join the study, and they remain in the study indefinitely.

Examples:

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Never
Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Never

Setting Start, Checking End and Duration Checkboxes

In this case, if participants join prior to the specified start time, their participation does not start until the start time. If participants join after the study's start time, as the specified start time is already passed, their participation starts at the same time they join the study.

The participations continue indefinitely, as no end time is specified.

Examples:

Assume the Participation Start Time is set to Nov. 15th, 2020, 10:00.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Nov. 15th, 2020, 10:00 Never
Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Nov. 15th, 2020, 10:00 Never
Nov. 15th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 15th, 2020, 10:00 Never
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 Never

Setting End, Checking Start and Duration Checkboxes

In this case, the participation starts as soon as the participant joins the study. The participation continues until the specified end time. Therefore, each participant will have a different participation duration, depending on when they joined the study.

In this scenario, participants cannot join the study after the specified end time. If they try to do so, they will see a message saying the study is already finished.

Examples:

Assume the Participation End Time is set to Nov. 15th, 2020, 23:00.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Nov. 15th, 2020, 23:00
Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Nov. 15th, 2020, 23:00
Nov. 15th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 15th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 15th, 2020, 23:00
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 N/A
Participant cannot join.
N/A
Participant cannot join.

Setting Duration, Checking Start and End Checkboxes

In this case, the participation starts as soon as the participant joins the study. The participation continues for the number of days specified by the Duration.

Examples:

Assume the Duration is set to 2 weeks (14 days).

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Jun. 5th, 2020 10:15 Jun. 19th, 2020 10:15
Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Aug. 12th, 2020 19:15 Aug. 26th, 2020 19:15

Setting Start and End, Checking Duration Checkbox

In this case, if participants join prior to the specified start time, their participation does not start until the start time. If participants join after the study time, as the specified start time is already passed, their participation starts at the same time they join the study. The participation continues until the specified end time.

Therefore, for every participant that joins the study prior to the start time, the participation duration will be identical, equal to the duration between start and end time. For those who join the study after the start time, but prior to the end time, the participation duration will be shorter, depending on how long after the start time they joined. No participant can join the study after the specified end time.

Examples:

Assume the Participation Start Time is set to Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 and Participation End Time is set to Nov. 16th, 2020, 00:00.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Sep. 5th, 2020 10:15 Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 Nov. 16th, 2020, 00:00
Oct. 12th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 Nov. 16th, 2020, 00:00
Oct. 25th, 2020 09:00 Oct. 25th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 16th, 2020, 00:00
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 N/A
Participant cannot join.
N/A
Participant cannot join.

Setting Start and Duration, Checking End Checkbox

In this case, if participants join prior to the specified start time, their participation does not start until the start time. If participants join after the study time their participation starts at the same time they join the study. Either way, the participation ends Duration days after the calculated start time for each participant.

In this scenario, most participants start and end their studies at the same time, but if a given individual joins the study late, they will be still participating in the study for the same number of days, but they finish their participation later.

Examples:

Assume the Participation Start Time is set to Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00, and the Participation Duration is set to 14 days.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Sep. 5th, 2020 10:15 Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 Oct. 29th, 2020 00:00
Oct. 12th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 Oct. 29th, 2020 00:00
Oct. 25th, 2020 09:00 Oct. 25th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 8th, 2020, 09:00
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 Dec. 4th, 2020, 11:45

Setting End and Duration, Checking Start Checkbox

In this case, the participation starts as soon as the participant joins the study. The participation continues for the number of days specified by the Duration unless that falls after the specified end time. In this case, the participation is cut at the specified end time.

No participant can join after the specified end time.

Note that in this case, the end time is prioritized over the duration. If the participant joins late such that the duration puts the calculated end time beyond the participation end time, the calculated end time will be capped.

Examples:

Assume the Participation End Time is set to Nov. 15th, 2020 00:00, and the Participation Duration is set to 14 days.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Sep. 5th, 2020 10:15 Sep. 5th, 2020 10:15 Sep. 19th, 2020 10:15
Oct. 12th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 12th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 26th, 2020 19:15
Nov. 5th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 5th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 15th, 2020 00:00
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 N/A
Participant cannot join.
N/A
Participant cannot join.

Setting Start, End, and Duration

In this case, if participants join prior to the specified start time, their participation does not start until the start time. If participants join after the study time their participation starts at the same time they join the study. The participation ends on the sooner of start time plus duration, and participation end time.

No participant can join after the specified end time.

Examples:

Assume the Participation Start Time is set to Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00, the Participation End Time is set to Nov. 15th, 2020 00:00, and the Participation Duration is set to 14 days.

Participant Join On Participation Start Participation End
Sep. 5th, 2020 10:15 Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00 Oct. 29th, 2020 00:00
Oct. 16th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 16th, 2020 19:15 Oct. 30th, 2020 19:15
Nov. 5th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 5th, 2020 09:00 Nov. 15th, 2020 00:00
Nov. 20th, 2020 11:45 N/A
Participant cannot join.
N/A
Participant cannot join.

Time zone

When dealing with time, all Ethica features take the proper time zone into account. This prevents ambiguity when running studies across multiple time zones, or when the participants move across time zones while part of the study. Internally, Ethica stores all time values in UTC. This ensures consistency across calculations. Then as a researcher or a participant uses Ethica, all time values are automatically converted to the user's local time zone.

For example, if you are based on the Eastern time zone (-04:00 GMT), when you set the Participation Start Time to Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00, Ethica saves this value as 2020-10-15 04:00:00-0000. But when presenting this to you on your researcher dashboard, the value is converted to your local time zone (ET), and therefore it's shown properly as Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00.

Similarly, when a participant joins your study, Ethica calculates his or her individual participation period in UTC and then displays this in his or her local time zone. In the above example, if a participant joins your study from your local time zone (Eastern Time), they will see their study starts on Oct. 15th, 2020 00:00. If they join from the Pacific time zone (PT), they will see their start time as of Oct. 14th, 2020 21:00 (as PT is 3 hours behind ET).

Manual Adjustment

You can modify the participation start and end time for each individual participant, and set them to any value necessary. Ethica adjusts the participant's activity schedule accordingly. You can read more about how these adjustments happen in the Triggering Logic section.

In order to change the participation start and end time of a given participant, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the Researcher Dashboard, and from the left panel, choose Participation.
  2. In the Participation tab, find the ID of one or more intended participants, and select them by clicking on their associated checkbox. Modify participation period for individual participant
  3. From the menu on the top of the table, click the Modify Participation Period.
  4. Set a new date for the start time and end time. You can also mark the end time as Open as described above.
  5. Press Save to apply the change.

By pressing Save, Ethica will save the new participation period for all of the selected participants, adjusts their activity schedule, and reloads the study setting on their phone.

Participation Period Modification

You can change the values for participation start time, end time, and duration, at any time, even while the study is in the field and enrollment is in progress. Any changes will be applied to future participants. Note that the changes do not apply to the participants currently enrolled in the study. That is because Ethica has already calculated their individual participation period, and stored that for them. If you want to change the individual participation period for the currently enrolled participants, you need to manually adjust them.