How to Resolve an Underpaying Study with Adjustment Payments

At Prolific, we believe in ethical rewards for participants. Fair pay also leads to better data quality, and we recommend you pay participants at least £7.50/$9.60 per hour, while the minimum reward is £5.00/$6.50 per hour.

From time to time, some studies fall below the minimum reward per hour of £5.00/$6.50 USD (we'll call these underpaying studies moving forward). This underpayment issue can arise when the study completion time has been underestimated; i.e. when participants take longer than a researcher estimated to complete their study. We calculate study completion time based on the median completion time to avoid extremely fast or slow participants skewing the data.

In order to help avoid your studies being underpaying we recommend running a pilot study with a small number of participants. You can read more about this here.

If one of your studies is underpaying, you will see an alert on the study submissions page and receive an email from Prolific.

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In order to address this, you can adjust your reward per hour to either the minimum reward per hour, or your original estimate, which is the price you initially selected when publishing the study.

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What if I haven't approved any submissions yet?

No money will be immediately paid after increasing the reward rate for an underpaying study. Instead, money will be reserved from your total Prolific balance for payments you'll make to participants after approving submissions, or automatically 21 days after submissions are received.

What if I've already approved some submissions?

If you’ve already approved submissions, the participants will be awarded an additional payment to bring their reward in line with the new rate you have selected. If some of your submissions are unapproved, money will be reserved from your total Prolific balance for these payments.

Below is what a participant will see if their submission was approved before the adjustment:

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What happens if my balance is insufficient to pay the new rate?

When you adjust your reward per hour, you might find that you need to top up your balance. You'll see a notification at the top of the adjustment screen where you can top-up with the indicated amount. You will need to have enough money in your account in order to adjust your reward per hour.

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Can I still make bonus payments?

Yes. Bonus payments still work in the same way and should be awarded to participants for things like variable rewards, prizes, or to make partial payments. You can read more about bonus payments here.

If you require further assistance please reach out to Prolific Support and we will be happy to help.

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