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How do I run video interviews & focus groups?

Below we've included a step-by-step guide for setting up your video interview or focus group study on Prolific!

Use Prolific to recruit your participants


  • For a video study, you can use some of our existing prescreeners ('webcam' and 'video call interview' in the 'participation on Prolific' category) to only recruit amongst those who agreed to do video interviews.
  • If you wish to recruit a sample according to other requirements, you can run a short initial study in which you pay everyone for participation, then only re-invite those who meet the criteria for your main (second) study in which the call is scheduled and carried out. For more information please see our guidance on recruiting a custom sample.

Write a study description that explains clearly what's involved


You may find our study description checklist useful!

Specific to video interviews and focus groups, you may also wish to include:

Study basics

  • How many stages there are and what do people need to do
  • Which site(s) participants will be directed to
  • Confirm that personal data will not be collected and stored, and inform how video recordings will be used and stored / discarded
  • How you will ensure the study is safe and respectful of all participants
  • How you are obtaining consent and how this can be withdrawn at any time
  • Whether any particular behaviour or actions are not permitted

Payment

  • Whether payment will be in the usual way via submission approval, or a bonus payment
  • Whether submission approval (payment) is dependent on video being turned on as well as microphone
  • That payment includes the time signing up and how much time is allocated to that
  • That submission approval (payment) is dependent on attendance at the interview or focus group

Device requirements

  • e.g. mobile phone cannot be used or browser requirement.
  • Any downloads needed and should anything be tested beforehand? If so, will any time be allowed for this?
  • The above should also be applied as device restriction labels by choosing the relevant options during your study set up.

Completing the study

  • How participants should let you know their Prolific ID before exiting
  • How participants will get the completion code
  • How participants will be debriefed - will participants be directed to some information at the end of the call, or will this be done within the call?

Use a survey tool for the consent form and to schedule the call


  • You can use any simple survey software (e.g. Surveymonkey and Typeform both provide free accounts for short surveys).
  • The link to the survey is what you provide as the study URL on Prolific.
  • Those who do not consent should be asked to 'return' their study spot. You can read more about how to do this here.
  • Participants who consent can be directed to schedule their call.

Use a scheduling tool (e.g. Doodle or Calendly)


  • You'll need to sign up to a scheduling tool so that participants can book in their slot.
  • Some researchers use the scheduling form as their study URL, rather than directing participants to this after a consent form. In this case, you can use the study description page and the description field of the scheduling tool to provide information about the study, and then include the consent form step as part of the call.
  • We do not have enough data to advise which approach works best so it's best to trial it and see what works best for your study.
  • Make sure to give an exit option at every step (for example you might include a sentence like 'If you do not wish to take part in a live call, please close this tab and return your study spot').
  • We advise not scheduling calls to start immediately to give participants time to prepare.
  • A research group that ran focus groups on Prolific found that 3 hours in advance worked best for them.

After scheduling provide all participants with a completion link, but don't approve anyone yet


  • You can also provide a completion code for participants to enter manually if you cannot include links. There is further guidance on this here.
  • It is important that submissions are registered as complete here rather than after your call, because unless the call starts immediately, your study would be flagged as underpaying. This is because the study will appear to be longer than the estimated completion time if there is a gap between these scheduling study and the actual video call or focus group.
  • Please note that we will still run checks on video and audio studies to check for underpayment, as fair and ethical rewards is an important principle of ours. All studies must have a minimum reward rate of £5 / $6.50 per hour.

Use participants’ Prolific emails to send access links to the call


  • For example, the link to access the call on Skype, Zoom etc... You could also send a reminder message prior to the call if appropriate. There is more information on messaging participants here.
  • Participants need to book their slot using their Prolific email address. They will be unable to receive any automated messages sent out from the external scheduling tool, so you will need to send all relevant information via the messaging system.

Ask for participants' Prolific IDs at the end of the call and approve only the submissions of those participants who took part in the call


  • Contact participants who did not attend using the messaging system to find out what happened, and provide the opportunity for them to return their submission or reschedule if appropriate.

Top tips

Make sure to calculate the estimated time rate fairly
  • When calculating estimated time, include all the time it takes people to answer follow up questions and other actions around the call itself, not just the time on the call.
  • We advise paying a higher hourly rate that our minimum, as these studies require people to commit to a specific time and include more preparation. This is also likely to have a positive impact on participation rate. Therefore, we recommend a minimum of £10 / $13 per hour.
Recording video or audio studies
  • Please bear in mind whether the particular site / tool you use for recording has all the functions you require e.g. length of recording time, ensuring participants cannot record, and consider whether you need to upgrade your account to have access to the features you require.
  • At all times make sure you do not collect any personal information. Collection of personal information is not usually permitted on Prolific, so participants would need to be assured that any personal details if at all collected (e.g. Skype usernames) will only be used to contact them for the interview, and deleted as soon as this purpose has been fulfilled. Advise your participants to schedule using their Prolific ID, change their Zoom/Skype name to their ID or an imaginary name.
Run a pilot study
  • This really is essential for more complex studies, to check everything works smoothly and so that you can make adjustments before you launch your main study. There is further guidance on pilot studies here.
What if someone doesn't turn up for the live interview after the initial study?
In the first instance we would recommend reaching out to the participant via our messaging system. If possible, you may wish to give the participant another opportunity to attend a further call. If this is not appropriate, you may instead ask the participant to return their submission. We ask that you give the participant 5 days to respond to your message. If you have not heard back from the participant after 5 days, or require further assistance, please get in touch using the button below.

I need further help

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