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Can I screen participants within my study?

In most cases we ask that researchers do not screen participants out in their studies. Instead, you can apply Prolific's prescreeners to your study, which will mean that only eligible participants can see and access your study.

There are limited circumstances in which we do allow screening within studies, and these are explained below. If your use-case is not listed here, we ask that you do not screen participants out from your study. Feel free to reach out to Support using the button at the bottom of this page if you have any questions.

The full eligibility criteria for your study must be applied using prescreening, so that all participants who are sent to your study can complete it and receive the reward. It is also not appropriate to put the screening criteria in the study description alone. You are welcome to repeat it here, but it must also be applied using our prescreeners.

If the criteria wasn't applied to your prescreening, you cannot reject participants or exit them from your study if they do not meet the criteria you're looking for. See our Setting up a study - Audience article for more information.

What if the prescreener I need doesn't exist?


If you want to recruit a niche demographic that you can't obtain using our existing prescreening filters, you will need to follow our guidance for recruiting a custom sample.

Can I validate my prescreeners?


Yes, we recommend that you validate your prescreeners by asking the prescreening question again in your survey. This validation question should be at the very beginning of your study and must be worded exactly as it appears on Prolific. You can find the exact wording when you add a prescreener to a study. For example, in the below screenshot the exact wording for the ‘Employment Status’ prescreener is 'What is your employment status?'

Employment_status_screener.png

Please note, an exception to this is the participant's age. When validating a participant’s age, you must not ask for their date of birth as this is Personally Identifiable Information. Instead please ask the question: 'What is your current age in years?'

If a participant's response doesn't match their prescreening answer, you can redirect them to a separate end of survey page with the following message:

'You are ineligible for this study as you have provided information which is inconsistent with your Prolific prescreening responses. Please return your submission on Prolific by selecting the 'stop without completing' button.'

This means participants can return their submissions and their spot will open up to a new and eligible participant. To see examples of this setup in external study software, please see our integration guides.

Can I validate my study's device compatibility and technology use requirements?


Yes, you can validate your study's device compatibility or technology use requirements as long as these requirements have been clearly outlined during study set up. There is further guidance on this in our article How do I restrict participation to certain devices?

Some software providers support tests to ensure that participants are using the necessary technology required to complete your study (e.g. headphones).

If you wish to validate this device or technology screening in your study you must ensure that the following conditions are met:

  1. The device and technology use requirements for your Prolific study (e.g. desktop-only, headphones) must be clearly stated in your study description.
  2. Device and software requirements must also be specified using the options in the 'study details' section of the study set up form, where relevant.
  3. Device validation must occur at the start of your study so that participants are not screened out after having put in significant time and effort.
  4. Participants using an incompatible device should be directed to a separate end of survey message and asked to return their submission

Here’s an example of a separate end-of-survey message displayed to those who are screened out:

'Thank you for your interest in this study. However, it is critical that you complete this task on a laptop or desktop computer, and our data indicates that you are using a mobile device. As a result, I'm afraid you won't be able to continue with the experiment. Please return your submission on Prolific by clicking the 'stop without completing' button.'

This means participants can return their submissions and their spot will open up to a new and eligible participant. To see examples of this setup in external study software, please see our integration guides.

Finally, we recommend that you run a pilot study to ensure that your device and technology validation are working as expected before launching to your full sample.

Can I screen based on attention and comprehension checks?


Attention checks

You have the option to screen out participants who fail two valid attention checks while taking part in your study. Before you begin, you must review our Attention and Comprehension Check Policy to ensure that your checks are valid.

Under the 'STUDY COMPLETION' section of your Prolific study setup page, you will find the option to add a custom completion code, from which you can select 'Failed attention checks' from the dropdown.
Failed_attention_check_custom_completion_code.png

To use this feature, you will need to configure your external survey to direct participants who fail your attention checks to a separate end-of-survey message, that provides them with this failed attention check code.

Participants will then return to Prolific to enter this code, and by looking at the completion code they registered, you will be able to quickly see which participants failed your attention checks. To see examples of this logic in external study software, please see our integration guides.

Comprehension checks

If a participant fails a comprehension check twice then they should be immediately asked to return their submission by closing the survey and clicking 'Stop Without Completing' on Prolific.

Please read our Attention and Comprehension Check Policy for more information, such as what constitutes a fair comprehension check on Prolific.

How do I filter out participants who do not consent to my study?


If a participant indicates that they do not consent to participate in your study, you can redirect them to a separate end of survey page with the following message:

'As you have indicated that you do not consent to participate in this study please return this submission on Prolific by selecting the 'stop without completing' button'

This means participants can return their submissions so their spot will open up to a new participant. To see examples of this setup in external study software, please see our integration guides.


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