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Submission statuses explained

Introduction

When a participant signs up to take part in your study, you will immediately see their ID recorded on your submissions page. You can view submissions by clicking on an active study or using the blue Action button to 'View Submissions'

Each submission will be associated with a specific submission status. This article will tell you what these submission statuses mean, who can action them and how to action them. To help you to decide who to approve and reject, please see this article (How do I decide who to approve or reject?):

Active


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The participant is currently taking part in your study but has not completed it yet. Please wait to review this submission until it has been completed.

Awaiting Review


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The participant has completed your study. Please review and either approve or reject this submission.

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After you have checked your participants’ submissions, you should pay them as soon as possible. Ideally, you would reward them within 24-48 hours after they have completed your study.

You have a maximum of 21 days to review submissions. If you haven't reviewed submissions after 21 days, our system will automatically approve all unreviewed submissions. Please note that participants are told submissions will be reviewed within 22 days in order to account for differences in time zones between themselves and the researcher.

Costs for submissions awaiting review are reserved from your available balance and will be deducted from your total balance when approved.

Returned


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The participant decided to leave your study early, or withdraw their submission after completing your study. A participant may return their submission for a number of reasons, including:

  • They experience technical difficulties and do not want to/cannot proceed
  • They get part way into your study and decide they don't want to take part
  • They withdraw their consent for you to use their data
  • They receive a request from you to return their submission (instead of receiving a rejection, if it isn't appropriate to approve it)

The participant's space in the study is immediately re-opened so that another may take their place. Returned submissions are excluded from your total number of requested submissions, and you do not have to pay unless you manually choose to do so (by selecting the green tick to approve it):

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You do not need to take any action on a returned submission, but if your study has a large number of returned submissions it can be a sign that there is a technical problem and you should investigate further (perhaps by contacting some participants who returned their submissions to ask why).

Researchers cannot return submissions, but you may decide to ask a participant to return their submission rather than reject it. You can read our article 'Return vs. Reject' about how to do this. We ask that you give participants at least 5 days to respond to your request. If you have already rejected the submission you can unreject it:

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Similarly, if you want to offer partial payment to participants you should request that they return their submission, by sending them a message. You can then pay the participant the partial payment via a bonus payment.

Participants can return submissions from their Submissions page, by selecting the red circular arrow to 'Return + cancel reward'. Participants cannot undo their returned status.

Timed out


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The participant ****has exceeded the maximum time allowed without completing their submission. No further action is usually required for timed out submissions. They are automatically excluded from your total submissions and you will not be charged for them. However, you can manually approve them if you wish (by selecting the green tick next to their ID).

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The maximum time allowed is an upper time limit for your study set automatically by Prolific, based on the estimated completion time you set in the study creation form. This limit cannot be changed and is designed to give all participants in your study plenty of time to complete successfully, whilst timing out those who become inactive. Please note that participants can go over your maximum time allowed and still complete their submission in some cases - read about why this may occur here.

Approved


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This submission has been completed and approved and the participant has received payment. The cost for this submission has been subtracted from your total balance.

Approved submissions cannot be unapproved by researchers. If you require an approved submission to be unapproved then please contact the researcher support team and explain the reason why. Please note, that we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to recoup funds paid to the participant.

For more information on approvals, and how to action these, please see this article (article on approvals and rejections)

Rejected


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This submission has been rejected by you or an admin. You will not be charged for this submission, and the study place will become available again for other participants.

Please bear in mind, when you reject a participant you also penalise them. Before rejecting them, please review our guidelines about rejections, as well as the difference between returning submissions and rejecting them.

Researchers can unreject previously rejected submissions by selecting the 'unreject' option on the submission:

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Please note: Prolific automatically republishes rejected assignments, so your study can be completed by new participants and you do not have missing data. That is, if you have rejected the work of 2 participants, then your study will immediately be available again for 2 new participants.

For more information on rejections, please see this article (article on approvals and rejections).

Submission Status FAQs

What should I do if a participant has timed-out, but completed my study?

You may find a complete response from a participant in your external software. But, their submission status is 'timed out' on Prolific.

This might have occurred for all sorts of innocent reasons including:

  • Technical issues/unforeseen circumstances.
  • The time needed to complete your study may have been much higher than your estimate, so the maximum time was not enough.

Where there is clear evidence that the participant tried to complete your study in good faith, and there is no reason to believe that the participant has withdrawn their consent, please manually approve their submission wherever possible:

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  • Please do this especially in cases where the study's completion time has been underestimated.
  • Our support team may be in contact with you if we believe a timed-out submission deserves to be approved.

If the participant is still active in the study and is not replaced by another participant before they complete it, then their submission will not become 'timed out'.

Why am I being told I have 'insufficient funds' to approve submissions that were timed out or returned?

If you already have the requested number of participants who are currently awaiting review or already approved, then approving timed out or returned submissions are considered extra approvals on top of that.

When you launch a study, the total cost of that study (i.e., the cost of approving all requested participants) is removed from your 'total' balance, leaving an 'available' balance that is not allocated to a particular study. Extra approvals are taken from your 'available' balance, so if that balance is too low, you will not be able to make any extra approvals. To resolve this issue you will need to top-up your account by enough to pay for the extra submissions.


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