Recommended Reference List Format (optional):
Sona Systems (n.d.). Sona Systems: Cloud-based Participant Management Software[Computer software]. Sona Systems, Ltd. https://www.sona-systems.com/
How to Cite Sona Systems
Citing Sona Systems is generally far less complicated and easier to do than it is to cite standard scientific publications. This is because a wide variety of publishers and style manuals, from the APA’s style manual (7th Edition) to prestigious journals such as PNAS or Nature, do not require and do not generally even recommend including a reference list entry. In fact, even though both PNAS and Nature follow a practice common to many scientific fields and a variety of citation styles (e.g., “Vancouver style”) and use numbered citations in-text (via endnotes) that correspond to reference lists entries, the generally appropriate method for citing Sona Systems is the same as that described in the APA’s Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Ed.). For the use of computer software or software services such as Sona Systems, these publishers and citation styles rely on the use of in-text citations (as covered below) rather than a numbered endnote and a corresponding entry in the bibliography/reference list.
The format for in-text citations in all of these cases consists of two simple options that you can choose from based on your purposes and/or preference:
“All participants were undergraduate students from a large Midwestern university recruited via the Institute for Interdepartmental Applied Research’s participant pool management software (Sona Systems; https://www.sona-systems.com), tested in our laboratory, and given a choice to receive either monetary compensation or course credit for participation.”
That’s it! In most cases, publishers using widely different citation formats and styles do not require a full bibliographic or reference list (see below for more details).
Recommended Reference List Format (optional)
Because it is so widely used, particularly by researchers who rely on Sona Systems, our recommended citation for reference lists/bibliographic sections follows the APA’s format for software, from Section 10.10 of their publication manual:
Sona Systems (n.d.). Sona Systems: Cloud-based Participant Management Software [Computer software]. Sona Systems, Ltd. https://www.sona-systems.com/
There are few important details that may help you both understand this format as well as when you may need to include it in your work.
When to use in-text instead:
According to the APA’s publication manual, if you can be reasonably certain your audience can be expected to have some familiarity with Sona Systems (or at least with university participation pools) then the in-text citation is sufficient. This is also the general recommendation of other citation styles in the sciences (and academia more generally). For example, the prestigious family of Nature journals (e.g., Nature, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, etc.) uses its own citation style which does not, in general, use in-text citations at all. Instead, in a manner common among certain scientific journals, numerical superscripts are used in the main text which correspond to the sequentially ordered reference list in every article’s bibliography/reference list section. Exceptions to this general rule (as in other citation styles) include citations to software services such as Sona Systems, where instead of a superscripted endnote number authors are encouraged to use in-text citations such as “Using an online participant database (Sona systems, www.sona-systems.com), we recruited…” or “participants were recruited from the Sona subject pool (www.sona-systems.com)…”
So, unless you quote from the Sona Systems website, or are publishing in a journal where 1) most of the readers cannot be expected to be familiar with university participant pools and 2) full references for in-text citations even for computer software are required, then we recommend using the in-text citation method given in the previous section above.
Reference List Citation Breakdown:
Next, it is worthwhile to break down the reference list citation into its components so that it is clear what each piece corresponds to. First, there is the abbreviation (n.d.) where typically references include a year. For computer software and similar research tools and equipment, the APA and other citation styles generally ask for the release year of the version of the software used. This is because frequently new software releases must be purchased by researchers, their lab, their department, or the college/university, etc., and thus different versions are often in use by different researchers at the same time. Sona Systems provides a standardized platform for all of its users. There is no need to include a year because there is no corresponding software version release date to be concerned with. Updates to the Sona Systems software are global.
The next component in the reference list entry is the title of the software. This is followed by a bracketed component “[Computer Software]” that is specific to APA standards for a reference list entry. Then there is the publisher: our company, Sona Systems, Ltd. The final component is the full URL: https://www.sona-systems.com.
Answers to Common Citation Issues
Is it “SONA” or “Sona”?
The “Sona” in “Sona Systems” is not an acronym. This is a common misunderstanding. The correct form of our name is not SONA or SONA SYSTEMS but Sona Systems, and it’s a registered trademark. It is therefore recommended that you use this form for both in-text and (when they are necessary) reference list citations.
Should we use our lab’s URL instead of the Sona Systems website?
While it may seem natural to use the actual URL that participants were directed to in your research (i.e., something like https://ResearchLabs.Sona-Systems.com/), this is actually less consistent with citation practice and general research guidelines than the use of the Sona Systems website. The central purpose behind the use of citations/references in academic literature is to provide readers information on the literature, sources, and tools used so that they have the opportunity to refer to these if desired. Departmental-specific or Lab-specific URLs do not provide this information. The information provided on the login page is not intended to be understood or even accessed by non-users and may actually be confusing rather than clarifying to your readers!
If my citation style or publisher asks that I include the company’s geographic location, what should I write?
The geographic location only matters if you must include a reference list entry. Even then it is not standard practice and is not generally required. However, it may be the case that some citation styles ask you to include the location of the publisher or company for computer software. In such cases, the location to provide for Sona Systems, Ltd., is Tallinn, Estonia.
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