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Oklahoma State University

Human Subjects Research (IRB) - Payment of Participants

Payment of Participants

Payment of Participants

A researcher may pay research participants. The payment for participation is not considered a benefit but rather a recruitment incentive or compensation for time and effort. All payments to participants in research must be fair and equitable.

Establishing the Level of Compensation

The IRB will review and determine that the amount is reasonable and not so large as to interfere with the ability of the participant to give informed consent without the possibility of coercion or undue influence. While the Federal Regulations do not specifically state how much researchers should pay participants or what that payment should look like, the IRB will apply a principle of reasonable compensation as it reviews participant payment for their time, effort and inconvenience. The IRB will also take into account information from the make-up of the sampling population, and the community environment and culture as it evaluates the appropriateness of participant payment.

Method of Disbursement

The method of disbursing payment should be included in the IRB application and should include discussion of the amount of payment and the proposed method and timing of disbursement to assure that neither are coercive nor present undue influence. For research involving multiple interactions, payment for participation in research should not be contingent upon the participant completing the entire study but rather be prorated as the study progresses to insure voluntary participation. While the entire payment should not be contingent upon completion of the entire study, payment of a small proportion as an incentive for completion of the study is acceptable providing that such an incentive is not coercive.

Processing Payments and Recordkeeping

Forms for and information on the procedures established for processing payments to participants to be used by OSU faculty and staff is available on the Grants and Contracts Financial Administration website at These payment procedures have been developed to ensure that participant confidentiality is maintained while meeting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reporting requirements and also conforming to the University's standard accounting and payment practices.