Get Paid for Academic Research Studies

This month, I’m getting paid close to $100 just for filling out some personality inventories and wearing a special wristwatch that monitors light exposure and movement. A few months ago, I made a quick $10 by completing a 40-minute questionnaire about sexual behavior. And last year, I earned $25 for playing a strange computer game in a windowless room for several hours and answering a survey about it.

What do these situations have in common? They were all ways to get paid for academic research studies run by professors and graduate students at universities. While I can’t claim that it’s made me rich, participating as a subject in academic research studies has been an easy, socially beneficial, and even fun way to earn a little extra cash in my spare time.

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: Is this legitimate?

The internet is littered with ads touting how to get paid for online surveys and other spam-happy “market research” run by greedy companies, but few of those opportunities are legitimate. Academic research studies, on the other hand, are designed to help scholars collect the vital data they need for their experimental work, with the money being offered as a way to compensate participants for their time. Instead of scoring a few uncertain bucks so a company can hone its products and advertising, why not assist our country’s nonprofit research institutions so we can learn more about fields like psychology, sociology, and medicine?

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: How do I find them?

There are many ways to find out about academic research studies that will pay you to participate. From word of mouth to advertisements, you just have to keep your ears open and your eyes peeled. Here are some places to check:

– Craigslist for your community.

– Bulletin boards. Look for flyers at coffeeshops, grocery stores, and other public spots – especially near university campuses.
– Public Transit. In urban centers, large and well-funded academic research studies may advertise their needs on trains and buses.

– Internet Searches. Though you may turn up a lot of bogus results, it’s worth Googling around to see if you can get paid for academic research studies in your area.

– Classified Ads. Check regular community newspapers, “alternative” newspapers, and specialty publications like college papers.

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: Will they take me?

Each study looks for different types of subjects. There may be specifications based on age, race, physical/medical conditions, sexuality, geography, marital status, occupation, education, and a wide array of other criteria. Researchers are allowed to discriminate in selecting subjects for the purpose of their academic work, but if you look hard enough, there’s probably a study (or several) out there for you at any given point in time.

Typically, there is some sort of pre-screening process conducted via phone or email to ensure that you are compatible with the study and are able to participate. However, for the integrity of the academic enterprise, the researchers probably won’t be able to share exactly what they’re studying (other than general background), whether you’re part of a control group or not, etc. What they will tell you is what you’ll be asked to do, where you’ll be asked to do it, and roughly how long it will take.

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: Are any of these studies online?

It’s rare to find a paid university study that is entirely online, although it’s possible. I did complete one short, low-paying survey over the web, but the majority of my personal experiences as an academic research subject involved in-person interactions with university staff and sometimes some materials to take home and complete.

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: How do I get paid? And how much?

Each study handles payouts different, but it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be paid on site or in cash. I’ve always been paid by check, usually 2 – 6 weeks after the completion of the requirements. At some point during your signup or actual participation, the researchers should inform you how and when you will be compensated. Otherwise, ask!

Pay obviously varies depending on the amount of time involved and what you’re asked to do – anywhere from lows of $5 to highs of several hundred or more. The more complicated, time-intensive, or personally invasive the study is, usually the higher the compensation is to boot.

Get Paid for Academic Research Studies: What about privacy?

A great deal of personal information is sometimes collected by the researchers because so many studies are related to behavioral sciences or medicine. Make sure you read any relevant privacy notices so that you understand how your personal information can be used, and don’t agree to participate unless you’re comfortable doing so.

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