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Why do I have missing data?

I have a submission on Prolific, but no associated data in my external software


There are a few reasons why submissions that are recorded in Prolific might not record in your external survey / study data:

  1. The response may be 'in progress'

    In some software, some responses get recorded straight away, while others are temporarily stored as 'Responses in Progress'. Sometimes, participants finish the study, but don't click on the forward button on the last page, so their responses are temporarily stored under 'Responses in Progress', even though they are de facto complete. To resolve the situation simply click 'Close Responses' or similar on your external survey software. Afterwards, the responses should show up in your data.

  2. It is possible that the participant entered their Prolific ID into your survey incorrectly

    If you are recording IDs manually using a text question, it is possible that a typo has been made by the participant when entering their ID. Please check your data file for any IDs that are similar to the missing one (but may have a few characters different or missing), or failing that it could be worth checking the timing data of any survey responses you haven't been able to match to Prolific submissions (e.g. their start time/duration), as you may find a match using this information.

  3. The participant may have more than one submission in your study data (but only one in Prolific)

    In this case, you can just delete the duplicate submission in your external software and approve the participant's submission on Prolific. Please see our article on duplicate submissions here.

  4. Something might have gone wrong during the study that caused the participant's data to be missing

    If the participant does not have the correct completion code like the rest of the respondents, then something might have gone wrong during the study which caused them to leave early and submit with 'NOCODE'. You can find more information about NOCODE submissions and how to manage them here. Check if you received any communication from participants about any issues, or send them a message. Ask if the participant is willing to take the study again, or accept partial payment.

    If the participant has the correct completion code and has completed in the expected time then your survey software might have suffered some data loss. Check with the participant and / or your study software provider if anything went wrong during the study. If the participant took the time to complete the study but the data was lost due to circumstances beyond their control, you will still need to approve them even if you don't have the data.

  5. The responses in your external survey software may not have been auto-saved

    Some survey software (such as Google Forms) does not auto-save participants' submissions, instead, participants need to manually submit their responses at the end of the study. If a participant does not do this then they may be recorded as complete on Prolific but have no data in your survey software.

    Please make sure that you instruct your participants to both click on the completion URL and to click on the final button on the last survey page to ensure that this does not happen. If you have done this and the problem still occurs then you can ask the participant to either repeat or return their submission.

  6. There is a delay for responses to display in your external software

    If you're using Qualtrics, there is sometimes a delay for responses to display in Data & Analysis. This is because they organise responses in their own way to make it easier for you to analyse the data. The process usually only takes a few minutes, but sometimes it can take much longer, especially if there are a lot of responses being collected for the same study.

  7. Your survey software may have deleted your responses in progress

    There is an option on Qualtrics to delete 'Responses in Progress' after a certain period of time (e.g. 1 week). Other software may have similar options. It is very important to not use this option on your survey if you post it on Prolific, as it may permanently delete responses that are almost 100% complete but for a final button press to record the response. If you have missing data which you cannot find after reviewing the above, it is worth checking how this option is set up in your study.

I have data in my external software, but no associated submission on Prolific


If a participant appears in the data file in your external survey software but not as 'awaiting review' in your submissions list on Prolific, it is likely that the submission is 'returned' or 'timed out'. Please check all submissions on your submissions list, and if you find the associated ID you can manually approve it.

If you can't find a participant anywhere in your submissions list, please reach out to Support using the button below and we'll be happy to help.


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