How are Participants on Prime Panels Compensated?

Prime Panels integrates several online research panels common in market research. In these panels, participants are not all compensated in the same way or amount. Participants agree to a form of compensation before participating in a study.

Compensation on Prime Panels

When using Prime Panels, CloudResearch is not able to specify the exact payment each participant receives. This is because different platforms have different ways of incentivizing participation and compensating participants for their time. For example, SurveyMonkey donates to a charity of the participants' choice. Other online panels give people gift cards, reward points, or small amounts of money.


The vast majority of the time, market research platforms leave compensation options up to the participants themselves (i.e., letting people choose between reward points, gift cards, or cash). Given that participant payments are decentralized and often vary, CloudResearch is unable to quantify exactly how much each participant is compensated.

Does the Price I'm Quoted Include Participant Compensation?

Yes, it does. The price you receive for a Prime Panels study is the price that ensures panel providers will send enough participants to your study to reach your desired sample size. This price includes all panel fees and participant compensation, although panel providers handle participant compensation on their platforms.

IRB Concerns Stemming from Prime Panels Form of Compensation

Researchers or the institutional review boards (IRB) they work with sometimes express concern about not being able to specify exactly how much each participant receives for completing a study. While this is a valid concern, the decentralized nature of payments on the Prime Panels platform does allow us to identify exactly how much participant is compensated with. As is the norm for online platforms and online studies, payment is typically modest enough to alleviate concerns about coercion. In addition, allowing online participants to decide whether a study and its compensation is worth their time respects people's autonomy.


NOTE: When using Prime Panels, the language researchers typically write into their consent form and that has been approved by multiple IRB's is: 

"Upon completion of the study, you will receive compensation in the amount you have agreed to with the platform through which you entered this survey."

Compensation in Online Research More Broadly

As a general rule, the only platforms where researchers know how much participants are being paid is Amazon Mechanical Turk and other micro-tasks platforms such as Figure Eight (formerly CrowdFlower). There are many differences between micro-task platforms and market research platforms in terms of culture, participant motivation, and participant expectations for studies. The key commonality is that people participate in studies based on their own free will and feel the rewards offered are worth their time.