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Notification Templates

Notification

Notifications in Ethica are used to send a message, whether automated or manually, to any Ethica user, either Participant or Researcher, via email, SMS, or in-app medium. You can manage these notifications in your study via the Notifications section of the Researcher Dashboard.
To configure Ethica to send automatic notifications, start by creating a new Notification Template. Within this template, you specify what event should trigger sending the notification, who should receive it, what should be the content of it, what mediums it should be sent through, and a few other settings. When the event happens, Ethica uses this template to create a notification and send it to its intended recipients.
In this article, we explain how Notification Templates work in Ethica and what configurations are available. We also show how you can review actual notifications that are created using each template, both those that are already sent and those that are upcoming. Finally, we explain different scenarios for which you can define a Notification Template in Ethica, including notifications to remind participants about their study activities, notifications for study invitations, and notifications when a new participant joins your study.

Notification Templates

As its name implies, Notification Templates allow you to create templates to be used by Ethica for sending automated notifications. To see a list of templates for your study, or to create a new one, open the Researcher Dashboard, and from the left panel click on Notifications. The first tab, called Notification Templates, lists all the notification templates currently defined in your study.
Initially, this list is empty. As you create templates for your study, they all appear in this list. You can create one by clicking on the Create Template button on the top right corner of the page. This will open a dialog similar to the following:
Create new notification template dialog
You start by specifying what event should trigger sending this notification from the Notify On field. You can choose from one of the following:
  • Study Invitation: when you invite a new participant to join the study.
  • Participant Joined: when a new participant enrolls in your study.
  • Session Released: when a session is prompted to the participant.
  • Session Completed: when a prompted session is completed.
  • Session Expired: when a prompted session is expired.
  • Session Canceled: when a prompted session is canceled.
In the following sections, we explain how Ethica behaves when handling each of these cases.
Next, you will see the Recipients field. Here you can specify who should receive this notification. The recipient can be one of the following:
  • Participant: In this case, Ethica sends the notification to the participant who was related to the event. For example, for Study Joined notifications if the recipient is set to Participants, the notification will be sent to the newly joined participant.
  • Researcher: Use this option to select either all or a subset of researchers in your study who you want to be notified. Selected researchers must be part of the study to be listed here.
Next, you can set how long before or after the event, the notification should be sent. Please keep in mind that Ethica can send notifications before an event only if it knows when the event will happen. So in the following, you can see a list of all the events that Ethica supports with negative offset values:
  • Session Released
  • Session Expired
In the next field, you can assign a label to this template. The labels can be used only to better identify the template in the list.
And in the following box, you can specify a Criteria which should be met in order for Ethica to send this notification. For example, you can use the Criteria field to send notifications when participants respond to the survey in a certain way.
At the bottom of the dialog, you can specify the mediums through which this notification should be sent. Ethica currently supports three mediums:
  • Email: this requires Ethica to have a verified email address from the recipient. Otherwise, the notification will be skipped. Email notifications will be handled by the server.
  • SMS: this requires Ethica to have a verified phone number from the recipient. SMS notifications will be handled by the server.
  • In-App: this requires the recipients to have the Ethica app installed on their Android or iPhone device. As the Ethica app is only designed for the participants, this notification medium can be used only for recipients who are study participants. In-App notifications will be handled by the app.
You can check any of these mediums that you want to use, and enter the content of the notification for that medium in the respective fields.
Pressing Create will create a notification template. If the notification template is related to sessions, i.e. the notification template is expected to be used when a session is released, expired, canceled, or completed, you also need to link the template to one or more activities. This is explained in more detail in Notification Templates for Activities

View Past and Upcoming Notifications

Above we listed the events for which we can create a Notification Template. Some of these events are not known in advance, such as Study Invitation, and Session Completed. Though the others, such as Session Released is known ahead of time, because Ethica knows at what time it should release the sessions.
In the Notifications tab, you can see the list of all notifications that Ethica has sent, or has scheduled to send in the future, as shown below:
List of past and upcoming notifications of a research study
In the above list, for each notification, you can see who was the intended recipient, the time that the notification was sent or is expected to be sent, the activity that this notification belongs to, the content of the notification, and the status of the notification. The notification status can be one of the following:
  • Unknown: the notification is not processed yet, likely because it's upcoming.
  • Pending: the notification is scheduled to be sent in the future.
  • Partially Failed: The notification could not be sent through one or more mediums.
  • Failed: The notification could not be sent through any of the available mediums or the notification failed to be processed.
  • Success: The notification was sent successfully through all of the mediums.
  • Blocked: the notification was not sent because the criteria of its template was evaluated to False.
  • Disabled: indicates either sending notifications were disabled on Ethica, or it could not find any eligible medium to send this notification through.
  • Stale: Ethica could not send the notification on time, so it did not send it.
If you click on any of the notifications in the list, you can see more details about it, including the content that is sent via each medium, and the exact delivery status for each medium.
Notification Detailed View

Study Invitation Notification

This notification is sent when we invite a new participant. If at the time of invitation no Notification Template of this type is defined for your study, Ethica creates one by default. Otherwise, all notification templates of this type are triggered.
If there are multiple notification templates with this type, Ethica triggers all of them for every invitation that is created. For example, you can set up multiple Study Invitation notification templates for your study as follow:
  • One to be sent immediately after you invite a prospective participant.
  • One to be sent after 3 days, if the participant has not enrolled yet. To do so, just set the Send After value of the notification template to 3 days.
  • One to be sent to researchers when a new invitation is sent.
Note that you can only use Email medium for Study Invitation notification templates with Participant as the recipient. That's because Email is the only field you have to enter when inviting a participant to join your study. Also, this notification template is the only one that does not require verified email from participants. Ethica assumes the participant email entered by the researcher is a valid email address.
Note that if you uncheck the Send Email box when inviting a participant, Ethica will not trigger any of the notification templates that are addressed to the participant. Study Invitation notification templates that are addressed to the researchers will be triggered regardless.

Participant Joined Notification

This notification is triggered when a new participant joins your study. You can use this to either send a welcome email to the participant or send a notification to the research team when a new participant is enrolled.

Session Notifications

These types of notifications are triggered when a session is either released, canceled, expired, or completed. You can read more about how to link a Notification Template to an Activity to notify either participants or researchers about these events with your custom logic in the Notification Templates for Activities

One-Off Notifications

By clicking the Notifications tab from the top left and then hitting the Send Notification button from the top right, you will see a dialog like the following that you can use to send a one-off notification to anyone in the current study.
Send an one-off notification dialog
You can start by selecting a user from the Send to field and select one or many participants, researchers, or a mix of the two to send the notification to.
Next, you can select the medium that you wish to send the notification through from the Send By field. Warning: since the research team doesn't have an Android or iOS app of themselves, if you select the In-App medium, they will be excluded from the notification queue.
Then you can go ahead and fill the content of the selected medium in the following fields and hit the Send button.

Receiving Replies

All emails are sent from [email protected] and Ethica does not receive email replies that participants might have to the emails they get. If you intend to have two-way communication with your participants, chat communication is the right feature.