Running a pilot study

We strongly advise running a pilot study before launching your main study, to test it out on a small number of participants. This is especially important if you haven't run a similar study before.


  • Double-check that all the technical aspects of your study are working
  • Get an insight into the types of responses participants will give
  • Make sure your Estimated Completion Time has been set accurately. 
  • For other instances of when we think it's a good idea to run a pilot study: When to pilot test your study

How to run a pilot study on Prolific

  1. Once you've created your survey/experiment using an external platform, create a new study on Prolific.

  2. Set your Maximum Submissions to be a small proportion of the sample you eventually want to get. For most studies, we recommend piloting on 5-10 participants, but you might want to recruit even fewer if your study is very complex. Enter the other Basic Details in this section as normal
  3. You may wish to let participants know in the study description that your study is a pilot, and that they may experience problems! Participants always appreciate transparency, and this may increase their motivation to give helpful feedback!
  4. If you’d like detailed feedback, you could target participants who are experienced users. To do this, use the "Approval Rate" and "Number of previous submissions" filters in Prescreening to get participants with a high number of Approved submissions.
  5. To launch your main study after making any necessary changes to your survey/experiment, you have two options:

And that's it - happy piloting! 

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