Undergraduate Research

Participant Payments

In many disciplines, the core scholarly expenses are material supplies of some sort – software, art materials, lab equipment, etc. In some disciplines, however, the core expense is a financial incentive used to recruit people to participate in the study. Our RSCA grants have not historically been permitted to fund participant payments, and, according to a Fall 2020 survey of faculty, that policy has deterred many faculty from applying for our AYURE or SURE grants.

Thanks to the generous cooperation of the SUNY New Paltz Research Foundation, we now can fund participant payments for AYURE / SURE projects. We have a mechanism in place to support two types of participant payments: direct payments and indirect payments.

Direct payments to participants

In some projects, the researcher recruits participants through flyers, social media, and so forth. For those, our office can provide e-gift cards (preferably Amazon.com) that we send directly to participants. We cannot support direct cash payments to participants, nor reimburse faculty for their own payments (whether cash or gift card) to participants.

Faculty using this option must provide the RSCA a completed Purchase Requisition form that lists the participants’ names, emails, and payment amounts. They should also provide evidence that participants completed the grant-supported project during the grant’s award period.

Note that direct payments will be done in one batch after the study is completed. Keep this in mind when developing your participant recruitment plan. 

Indirect payments through crowdsourcing platforms

As online research becomes increasingly popular, several crowdsourcing platforms have emerged to allow researchers to recruit and pay participants for completing online tasks. On each platform, the researcher can create and add funds to a personal account, select any requirements for participant eligibility, identify the number of desired participants, and choose an $ amount to award participants. Most researchers link that platform to another website where they conduct the study (ex, Qualtrics).

The two most popular platforms currently are MTurk and Proflic. We can support your participant payments with either of these sites. In future semesters, will look into the possibility of using other platforms too; please contact the RSCA (rsca@newpaltz.edu) with any requests.

Researchers using one of these platforms must first seed their personal account with funds to cover the study’s anticipated cost. After the study is completed, the RSCA will reimburse this expense if given a receipt sufficiently detailed for the RSCA to verify that the money was spent on the proposed project, during the grant period, and for the amount of money requested in the AYURE / SURE grant proposal.

Additional considerations

  • Before collecting their data, AYURE or SURE grant winners should contact the RSCA for additional guidelines about our participant payment procedures. 
  • As with all studies of human participants, the project must receive Human Research Ethics Board approval. The RSCA will need copies of the project's HREB application and HREB approval letter before it can provide participant payment support.  
  • The RSCA does not provide training on how to use MTurk or Prolific. You can find useful guides on their websites or in online searches. These two sites (here & here) may be useful for a deeper dive into the pros and cons of each platform.