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Research Incentives: Crowdsourcing Platforms

Updated: August 16, 2021

Introduction

Certain research projects involve human subjects. Any payments made to human subjects as an incentive to participate in research should follow this process. Please also note that your proposed method of providing incentives to research participants, and any necessary procedures to accommodate the requirements below, must be outlined and approved by the NC State Institutional Review Board (IRB).

There are a number of crowdsourcing platforms through which researchers may recruit human subjects such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and CloudResearch/TurkPrime*.

To comply with university guidelines, all surveys must include a question that disallows NC State employees from participation because payments to employees must be taxed through payroll (Policy 05.15.03).

*Examples of crowdsourcing platforms – do not mistake these examples as approved platforms.

General Guidance

  • Refer to this page each time you start a new study because processes can change.
  • Researchers must have IRB approval of the specific research protocol for which research incentives will be provided before payments may be arranged.
  • Payment for research incentives can never be charged to state-appropriated funds. If funding authority allows, payments may be charged to F&A, ledger 5, ledger 6 and ledger 7 accounts.
  • A question must be included in the survey that disallows NCSU employees (student, faculty, full-time, or part-time).
  • Each time you would like to use a crowdsourcing platform, ensure there is current approval for clickwrap before use. Don’t assume that because you used a platform in the past that it is automatically approved for current use.
  • Use a crowdsourcing platform account that is in your name, not a colleague’s account or a lab account.
  • University P-Cards and Marketplace may not be used for this process, per college policies.
  • Researchers may request a cash advance or may use personal funds and seek reimbursement. Reimbursements will be allowed for reasonable and customary payment amounts.

Questions?

Contact Missy Thomas and Hannah Harfst-Koelbl in our college research office.

Cash Advances

Per college policy, cash advances can be no more than $4,000 and cannot be requested for more than three months. If additional time is needed to run your study, a new cash advance request can be submitted with your reconciliation.

We recommend that you only request the amount you can reasonably use within the three-month period. As a reminder, the custodian is personally responsible for the funds and will have to repay the university if lost or stolen.

Step 1: Request the cash advance

Step 2: Run study

Remember to describe this process in your human subjects protocol that you submit to the IRB.

Step 3: Reconcile the cash advance

  • Complete a Cash Advance Reconciliation Form (GA081). GA081 must be signed by researcher and department head.
  • Submit the following to our college research office (Missy Thomas and Hannah Harfst-Koelbl):
    • Signed GA081.
    • Any unused cash.
    • List of respondents from crowdsourcing vendor showing payment amount to each subject (sample from MTurk).
    • Print-out from crowdsourcing vendor of Account Summary / Account Activity that shows deposit(s) into account and any refunds requested for unused funds (MTurk instructions).
    • Copy of survey showing question that disallows NC State employees from participating.

Reimbursement Requests

  • Researchers who use personal funds for incentive payments can be reimbursed if IRB approval has been received and payment amounts are reasonable and customary.
  • Complete a Research Incentive Reimbursement Request form which must be signed by Department Head.
  • Submit the following to our college research office (Missy Thomas and Hannah Harfst-Koelbl):
    • Signed Research Incentive Reimbursement Request form.
    • List of respondents from crowdsourcing vendor showing payment amount to each subject (sample from MTurk).
    • Print-out from crowdsourcing vendor of Account Summary / Account Activity that shows deposit(s) into account and any refunds requested for unused funds (MTurk instructions).
    • Copy of survey showing question that disallows NCSU employees from participating.

Additional Resources