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Can I use a game of skill as an incentive?

Many research organisations offer an incentive of some kind to participants who take part in a project.

I have seen surveys where an incentive was offered, but it turned out to be a reward for a test of skill. At the end of the survey, participants were asked to submit an answer to a question and told that the ‘best’ answers would receive a prize.

This is not an appropriate incentive for a research project. The intention of a research-related incentive is to motivate response and thank people for taking part in the project, not to reward skill.

All participants in a project must be treated fairly and equally. A test of skill does not do this. It differentiates people on some basis other than participation.

Incentives should not be a reward for a test, but an acknowledgment of participation.

Further advice about incentives can be found in the Research Society’s guidance: ‘Good practice when offering incentives for participation in research’, available on the website.

 *Note, This Guideline is not publicly available. Access is available to Members & Partners of The Research Society only.

Author: Jane Gregory, Professional Standards Officer, The Research Society

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