📙 Prolific's Best Practice Guide

Our guide on how to do great research online (and offline!)

Phase 1: Questions to ask before creating a study


  • What research question do I want to answer? And why?

    Asking yourself these two questions will not only influence the questions you ask and the answer formats you choose, but also the population(s) you target. Let’s say you are trying to answer the question: How does leadership style influence burnou...

  • Am I doing exploratory or confirmatory research? Why does it matter?

    Although both types of research aim for findings that are reliable and valid, there are important differences between them Exploratory research Exploratory research (sometimes called hypothesis-generating research) aims to uncover possible relati...

  • What is my target population?

    When you know what research question you want to answer and why, it’s time to think about your target population. When you know what research question you want to answer and why, it’s time to think about your target population. Are they of a ...

  • What type of data do I need? Quantitative or Qualitative?

    Catch up on the most important differences between these types of data to decide what approach fits best for your research When it comes to designing your study, you’ll need to make another important decision: Do you want quantitative or qualitat...

  • How large should my sample be?

    More about statistical power, sample size, and how to determine it The method used to determine your sample size depends on whether you’re doing quantitative or qualitative research. With qualitative research, you want your sample to be big enough...

  • Preregistering your Research

    If you are studying social sciences, you might be especially interested in reading about how to preregister your research What is a preregistration? Preregistering a study involves writing a plan of how you intend to carry out your research and ...

Phase 2: Things to keep in mind when designing a study


  • How to phrase questions and items

    Some useful advice on how to formulate the questions you want to ask The phrasing of questions is very important when it comes to constructing your study. You should think carefully about how to phrase your questions and items in order to col...

  • Special focus: Sensitive questions

    Some advice to increase the likelihood that you will get honest answers to sensitive questions from your participants.   Getting honest answers to sensitive questions from your participants is a tricky issue. There are, however, a few steps you c...

  • The order of your questions

    Question order can have a big influence on your participants' response behavior - here is what you should know before. When constructing a study, you’ll need to decide on an order for your questions. You might think this doesn’t matter too much, ...

  • Tips for the visual design of your survey

    We present three basic design tips to make your survey look great Did you know that visual design may influence your participants’ responses? Regardless of the tool you use to create the study you launch on Prolific, there are some basic design t...

  • Failed attention checks

    We’ve had occasional reports of high attention check failure rates on Prolific. We review every complaint like this, and have collated our conclusions below:  First, the “failure rate” can depend on the questions and instructions that your attent...

  • Biases in research

    Research (and personal experience!) demonstrates that people can fall prey to an enormous number of biases. No one, including researchers, is immune to biases and cognitive fallacies! The international science journal Nature provides this really h...

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Phase 3: Piloting and launching your study


Phase 4: Analysing your data


Phase 5: Iterating the research cycle


  • Aim for converging evidence & theory building

    After you’ve collected and analyzed your data, and drawn some conclusions, it’s time to ask yourself: What’s next? After you’ve finished your first study on Prolific (or elsewhere), analyzed the data, and drawn some conclusions, it’s time to ...

Phase ∞: Metascience & the empirical cycle


  • Researcher degrees of freedom

    Let’s not fool ourselves: The importance of battling questionable research practices (QRPs) In the past 5–10 years, many scientific disciplines have come under fire for shoddy research practices, perverse incentives, and a lack of transparenc...

  • A manifesto for reproducible science (by Munafò et al., 2017)

    Towards a future of valid and reliable research results. When doing research, we want to minimize all kinds of biases as much as possible to ensure that findings are valid and reliable. To achieve this goal, it is really important to replicate pas...

Statistical and Methodological Concepts


  • What kind of sampling methods are there?

    Learn more about different types of probability and non-probability sampling methods. There are two types of sampling methods: probability and non-probability. In probability samples, you know how likely it is that an individual in the popula...

  • What are the advantages and limitations of an online sample?

    Read more about the pros and cons of collecting your data online. Advantages Speed. The main advantage of a Prolific sample is speed. If your eligibility criteria are broad, participants should roll in quickly. The median amount of time it takes...

  • Statistical Power

    Read more about what statistical power is and how to conduct a power analysis. What is statistical power? How is it calculated?  In short, high statistical power means that you are likely to find an effect that is actually there. In more form...