User Research Recruitment

What is the right incentive to recruit a great research participant?

Don't overpay or underpay for research incentives, pay exactly what you need to recruit high quality participants using this free, easy incentive calculator from Respondent.


Our incentive calculator has got the answer for you. It guides you to pay a suitable incentive that results in qualified participants. As researchers, we don't want to overpay or inversely publish a project with below average incentive that attract no qualified participants. Incentives are a key component to successful participant recruitment, especially in niche segments, and the research industry has now started to recognize the importance of offering the right incentive. 

Built using data from thousands of user research projects, hundreds of thousands of screener responses that have resulted in millions of successfully recruited top-quality participants, our user research incentive calculator helps you determine the right incentive to attract articulate and thoughtful participants that are relevant for your specific research project.

How the User Research Incentive Calculator Works

Built using data from tens of thousands of research recruitment projects launched on Respondent, the calculator offers you an easy and effective way to select an incentive that your audience finds attractive, without overpaying.

Project Data
Research projects published on Respondent have earned billions of impressions with relevant cohorts selected from our panel of 3M+ participants. An ignored impression is a valuable data point, as much as a decision to apply to a project.

Our analysis of the data indicated that the factors with the highest impact on an 'attractive incentive' for a given target audience were:

  • Length of time requested
  • Location of the audience
  • 'Nicheness' or relative rarity of the audience in the wider population

The 'nicheness' attribute can be deconstructed in a few different ways - some audience may be niche by virtue of the rarity of the occupation and professional seniority, while others may be niche by virtue of our ability to access the population. For example, system administrators located in Paraguay, with 15 years of experience is a great candidate for the first type of niche audiences. An example of the second type of niche audiences would be men over the age of 90, who are on a particular plan of medical insurance in Canada. This cohort is rare niche to the relative difficulty in accessing the audience, even if the population itself may not be very small.

An interesting observation that emerged from analysis of the data is that the research methodology often does not have a huge impact on the incentive amount that participants expect. This intuitively makes sense, because the amount of time they need to invest captures their needs, unless the format of the study in in-person or spanning multiple days.

Participant Quality Indicators

We used this analysis, and combined it with our deep knowledge of participant behavior, participant quality indicators and developed a formula to calculate research incentives. The formula was them normalized to accounts for purchasing power differences from one country to another, and for discrete factors such as time requested, professional seniority and more, to provide reliable estimates of incentives that participants expect.

Using the Research Incentive Calculator

The calculator is designed to be simple, yet powerful to help researchers settle on the right incentive for their audience. Let us explore the inputs:

research incentive-calculator

Step 1: Enter Research Project Details

Choose between industry professionals (B2B) and consumer audiences (B2C) as the target audience. Selecting a consumer audience will disable the ability to select job functions and seniority for the purposes of incentive recommendations. 

The time requested from a participant is among the most highly weighted variables in the formula to calculate the incentive, as one would expect. The format of research (remote or in-person) is a notable high-impact variable that influences incentive expectations. Respondent can be used to recruit for any research method, and the calculator results are applicable for any methodology.

Step 2: Enter participant audience details 

Select the country where you wish to conduct research, the calculator currently includes data from 51 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Brazil, India, Canada, Mexico, Australia and many more. The Respondent panel features participants from 150+ countries and we will soon expand the dataset used in the calculator to offer recommendations for research in even more countries.

For projects targeted at industry professionals, you can choose from ~700 job functions as delineated in SOC Occupations and the level of professional seniority. Through the use of aggregated data and extrapolation, the calculator is able to provide reliable recommendations for any target participant audience. Notice a missing job function, please let us know via chat from your researcher account. 

Step 3: Use the suggested incentive

Once you have entered your project and participant details, the calculator automatically presents a suggested incentive in US Dollars. All you need to do next is use this value to guide your next participant recruitment effort. We hope that you do it at Respondent

How to recruit quality participants at the recommended research incentive

At Respondent, we like to compare participant recruitment projects to the iron-triangle of project management and call it the participant recruiting trilemma. The recruitment effort for a research study has 3 main goals:

  • Maximize participant quality
  • Minimize costs across recruiting fee and incentives
  • Minimize time taken to recruit

recruit quality participants for research fast and at a low fee

Participant Quality

Respondent has earned the trust of participants by delivering interesting projects and paying on time. This in turn has enabled us to implement advanced participant quality measures including:

  • Randomized identity and IP verification
  • Work email verification
  • Screener inconsistency detection
  • Participant ratings by researchers, aggregated to a score

This, in tandem with our robust set of automated reminders and checks helps ensure that a participant recruited on Respondent meets the desired quality requirements and shows up on time for their research tasks.

Recruiting Costs

Respondent offers fixed, low recruiting fees & incentives that are not too high/low through the incentive calculator. This methodology-agnostic fixed pricing model for participant recruitment helps research teams plan their research costs well in advance and gives them an assurance of maximizing quality, at a predictable and transparent cost.

Time to recruit

Most participant recruitment projects published on Respondent receive a first match within 30 minutes of publishing. Once a project is published, our automatic 3-step recruiting process kicks in:

Matching - Our algorithm matches project requirements against our 3m+ panel and starts inviting applicants.

Referrals - Our system offers incentives to existing participants in our panel to refer relevant candidates to apply.

Boosts - For rare audiences, our expert recruiting team goes to work in finding these audiences in their communities through a variety of channels.

Most projects usually complete recruiting in a matter of days, with a maximum of 2 weeks. This again helps research teams plan ahead with confidence in maximizing quality, speed and cost-effectiveness.

To summarize, here are a few tricks to selecting the 'right incentive' for your project:

  1. Use our incentive calculator as a starting point to select an incentive for your study.
  2. If you are looking to recruit participants across several job roles or seniorities, input each distinct audience on our incentive calculator and evaluate whether it makes sense to average the recommended incentives or to recruit separately.
  3. If you need to finish recruiting in under a week, we strongly suggest that you increase the incentive by a factor of 20-30% from the recommended value.
  4. If you know that the audience you are targeting is very niche, we recommend that you apply a mark-up on the suggested incentive.
  5. Lastly, publish your project on Respondent and access our panel of 3m+ quality participants to fulfill all your participant needs.

Need further guidance on selecting the right incentive for your study, or need help recruiting? Sign up or login, and get in touch through the chat widget. We're happy to help!

Similar posts