Participant compensation is any monetary, cash-equivalent (gift cards, coupons, lotteries, etc.), and non-monetary (extra credit, gifts, course credit, etc.) item offered to a research participant in exchange for their participation in a human subjects research study. Compensation given to research participants is not considered a benefit. Rather, it should be considered reimbursement for time and inconvenience.
The compensation type/amount, the proposed method for delivery, and the timing of disbursement should not be considered coercive, or present undue influence on the potential participants.
• Coercion occurs when an overt or implicit threat of harm is intentionally presented by one person to another in order to obtain compliance. For example, an investigator might tell a prospective subject that he or she will lose access to needed health services if he or she does not participate in the research.
• Undue influence, by contrast, often occurs through an offer of an excessive or inappropriate reward or other overture in order to obtain compliance. For example, an investigator might promise psychology students extra credit if they participate in the research. If that is the only way a student can earn extra credit, then the investigator is unduly influencing potential subjects. If, however, she offers comparable non-research alternatives for earning extra credit, the possibility of undue influence is minimized.
The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) provides guidance addressing the ethical concerns regarding offers of payment to Research Participants.
Please ensure you are following all guidance from UNT’s procurement office and UNT policies and procedures. UNT Finance & Administration have a procedure for Purchase of Gift Cards that should be reviewed when compensating participants with Gift cards.
For more information about Compensation to Research Participants, please review IRB SOP 22.01