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With the increase in online market and social research sessions it is important that incentives are paid when promised. Otherwise you will receive a lot of telephone calls from unhappy participants.

From the outset of a project ensure you have confirmed the following with clients:

  • Who is providing the incentives and what the incentives are.
  • By what method the incentive will be paid by i.e. cash, cheque, bank transfer, voucher etc.  Client goods, services or vouchers to purchase client goods or services must not be used as incentives for research projects or provided as gifts for participants. 
  • When incentives are due to be paid e.g. at the end of the group or depth or in the case of online or telephone interviews when exactly they will be paid.
  • The client policy on paying incentives if a session is cancelled. If a client’s policy is not to pay incentives for cancelled sessions this should be communicated to participants at the recruitment stage. However, if participants have incurred costs in order to attend a session cancelled by a client, clients are obliged to cover these expenses, irrespective of their incentive policy. This is covered in the MRS Code of Conduct:

Rule 9. Members must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that participants are not harmed or adversely affected by their professional activities and ensure that there are measures in place to guard against potential harm.

(This rule includes all types of harm including financial harm).

  • If incentives are to be paid by bank transfer after research sessions ask clients if there is also the possibility of paying by cheque as some participants are reluctant to give personal bank details to recruiters.
  • If recruiting for an online research project make sure that you emphasise to participants that if they don't complete all the tasks, they may not be paid the full amount. Give participants an approximate amount of time that they will be expected to take on each activity.
  • If cheques are being sent always check the spelling of participant names and addresses.