Top Tips for Study Success: Sharing Insider Knowledge from the Prolific Team!

In the Support Team we speak to hundreds of researchers each week to offer guidance and to help out if things don’t quite go to plan. Here we’re going to run through the process of using Prolific and answer some of the common questions we get asked for each stage. We'll also be highlighting some of the common mistakes we see and how to avoid them!

First things first! You’ve designed a study and you want to host it on Prolific! The first thing you’ll want to do is…

Check our rules and guidance!

Take a look around our Researcher Help Centre to find out loads of information about how Prolific works, and what is and isn't possible on our platform. A great starting point is our 'quick guide to using Prolific' - this highlights the key articles and information that you'll need to get going with your research. We also have a handy best practice guide for running studies on Prolific!

The articles we signpost most frequently are those to do with attention checks and for recruiting a custom sample if our current prescreening options don’t quite meet your needs. It’s also important to note that we cannot support studies that collect personally identifiable information.

So, your study is suitable for Prolific? Great! Before you launch it you'll want to...

Check the details!

When you set up your study you’ll be asked if you want to apply any prescreening criteria. Before publishing your study, it’s always worth double-checking that the prescreeners applied are those that you wanted, including checking the selected response options! Don’t let a misclick cause you to be recruiting participants from China when you actually wanted participants from Chile! Let us know if you’re trying to target a specific group and we can offer advice on how best to do this.

You’ll also be asked to provide an estimated completion time when setting up your study, as well as a set payment (which we will also display to you as a per-hour rate). Remember that we endorse ethnical rewards at Prolific, with our minimum payment rate being £5 / $6.50 per hour.

Before you launch your main study, though, you might first want to...

Run a pilot study!

Running a pilot study is a brilliant way to check that everything is working as expected and that your study format works well on the platform. You could even tell participants that this is a pilot study and ask for their feedback! This is also a great way to estimate the time it will take your participants to complete the study, which will be really useful when you create your main study on Prolific.

Your study is published! What happens now? You might have some questions about...

Timings

Studies can vary in the time to take to recruit due to a number of factors, but generally you can expect participants to start taking your study within a couple of hours. It’s worth noting that at the moment we are unable to support time-sensitive studies, so these are run at the researcher’s own risk.

Once your data collection is complete, it's time for...

Reviewing your submissions

You’ll have 21 days to review the submissions and decide whether to approve or reject them, so don’t rush this! It’s worth taking the time to ensure that you’re happy with your decision before actioning the submission on Prolific. We are limited in the support that we can offer once a submission has been approved, and participants trust researchers to be considerate when reviewing submissions.

Rejections penalise participants, so they should only be used in cases where there is evidence that the participant was negligent in their completion of the study. Deciding whether to use the data in your analysis and deciding whether the submission should be approved or rejected on Prolific might be two different decisions! You may find this guide helpful when making decisions about rejections.

You might also see submissions that have been 'returned' or 'timed out' in your submissions list, but you usually won’t need to do anything further with these.

Once you have reviewed submissions that were ‘awaiting review’ and the study is completed, any unspent funds that were reserved for the study will return back to your available balance and can be used again!

Throughout this process, don’t forget that you can…

Speak to the participants!

You can use the messaging system to contact participants. There are a number of reasons why you might want to do this, such as sending a reminder for a follow-up study, or perhaps querying some unusual answers. We ask that you give participants 5 days to respond to you before taking any further action.

Remember that the participants are applying their time and effort to complete your studies. Please be understanding if the participants have any questions or concerns, and be considerate in your communications with them. Wherever possible, we encourage researchers to resolve any issues directly with participants as this keeps both parties in the loop and gives them ownership of the discussion. If necessary you can advise the participant to contact the Participant Support Team, where they'll be able to offer some extra support if it's needed.

And if you need further help…

Speak to us!

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions that aren’t answered in the Help Centre, or if you have any concerns at any point while using Prolific. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to check!

Whether you're about to run your first study or you've been with for years, we hope these tips can empower you to run great research on Prolific! 🚀

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