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Incentive Payments to Research Participants

If you plan to make payments to participants in your research study, please review the following information carefully. Before submitting your protocol to the IRB, we recommend that you read this Overview, the pages that pertain to your funding source (personal funds or University funds), and the document with information on incentive language for use in consent forms.

Note that this overview pertains only to the distribution of the incentive payments; the IRB determines through the protocol review process whether the amount of the incentive is appropriate.

Getting Started

The handling of research participation incentives differs depending on the source of funds, and on the type and value of the incentive:

Research Incentive Coordinator (RIC)

The RIC is the PI’s single point of contact for research participation incentives. The RIC is CITI-trained, has served on the Executive Committee of the IRB, and is the Business Manager for the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The RIC will be primarily involved with studies using University funds but is available for assistance and advice for all studies.

For University-funded studies, the RIC will help researchers navigate the requirements and maintain compliance by

  • verifying that the study has been approved by the IRB or has been determined to be exempt from further review
  • verifying that the amount of the compensation requested is consistent with the approved IRB protocol (if applicable)
  • verifying that research incentives are an allowable expense (if study is grant funded)
  • setting up a project on TruCentive for electronic distribution and requesting the purchase of physical gift cards
  • collecting Participant Receipt Forms (PRFs) for studies with payments of more than $25 per participant
  • processing a reconciliation form to reconcile distribution records with participant logs and charge the PI’s account

Type of Incentive

The most commonly used types of incentives include:

  • Electronic gift card
  • Physical gift card
  • Visa/MasterCard gift cards 
  • Redbird Card dollars
  • Amazon’s mTurk
  • Cash
  • University check
  • Merchandise