Incentives for Participation in Research Studies

General Policies for Incentives for Participation in Research Studies

Subjects may be paid or otherwise rewarded (e.g., gift card) for participating in a research study. Note, however, that remuneration is a recruitment incentive; it is not a benefit of study participation. Incentives are frequently used when the benefit of study participation is otherwise remote or non-existent.

  • The amount of payment, if any, should be reasonable, based on the complexities and inconveniences of the study. The amount of payment should NOT be based on the risk of study participation.
  • The magnitude of the incentive and the proposed method and timing of its disbursement must not be coercive or present undue influence for initial or continued participation in the study.
  • It is acceptable for students to be offered course credits for their participation in a research study. However, the student must be provided with alternate, equitable ways to earn these credits if they decide not to participate in the research study. (See Chapter 14 for more information on students in research).

Payment Disbursement Guidelines

Any payment or reward should accrue as the study progresses and not be contingent upon the human research subject completing the entire study. Disbursement of a proportion of the total payment or reward contingent upon study completion is acceptable, provided that the amount of this incentive is not so large as to unduly induce subjects to remain in the study when they might otherwise withdraw voluntarily.

IRB Review and Approval of Incentives for Participation in Research Studies

Information concerning the remuneration of human research subjects, including its amount or nature and the schedule of its disbursement, is subject to initial and continuing review by the IRB. This information must appear in the Costs and Payments section of the OSIRIS application and informed consent document(s). It cannot be included as a benefit of study participation.

Finder’s Fees and Bonus Payments

It is not permissible for researchers to pay or receive finder’s fees for referral of research subjects. Physicians who refer a potential subject for participation in a research study are permitted to be paid, at a reasonable amount, for any services (e.g., obtaining a medical history, performing screening examinations, conducting medical record reviews, etc.) that they perform in support of the research study. It is not permissible to pay or receive bonuses with respect to subject recruitment goals or completion of a study.

version 12.10.2015