A complete guide to Prolific ** Updated
** Update – This guide is now out of date as Prolific have changed their site – watch out for a new guide coming soon! **
Prolific? What’s that? How do I register?
Or, I’ve signed up to Prolific. Great, so now the studies will start rolling in & I’ll earn oodles of cash, right? Well, not exactly… There are several things you’ll have to do first to make sure that your account is set up correctly, before you’ll start getting any studies.
It’s not always that simple to know what needs to be done, so I’ve put together this “How to” guide & FAQ to help you know if you’re doing the right things. Have a read through and make sure you’ve checked everything off.
- Signing up to Prolific
- Getting to know your way around the Dashboard
- Taking studies
- Getting Paid
- Things to Remember
Prolific Academic is an Oxford University incubator project. It was set up for University students who need to complete research for their studies, and where better to go for that information than the internet. It’s a crowd sourcing website for academics.
As it’s only for academic studies, they are generally very varied in nature and cover a wide range of topics. I find that the Studies on Prolific are sometimes far more interesting than surveys elsewhere due to this.
The surveys or studies as they are called vary from researcher to researcher and it is very rare you will find two the same. Some studies will last a couple of minutes and others require you to be invited back over a few days or months.
I’ve been paid as little as 30p or over £5 for a single study. The reward for the studies is usually commensurate with the amount of time it’s expected to take. The reward usually works out to £5-6 an hour. However, studies don’t always take as long as they say they will & sometimes the payout will be higher.
Most of the studies do take concentration, they are not like your usual surveys where you can just breeze through, often there will be quality checks to ensure you are actually reading the text. If you do not concentrate, answer incorrectly or rush through then you may see your survey rejected.
Step 1: Signing up to Prolific
Signing up to Prolific is the first step. I know that things can sometimes seem complicated when you’re just getting started so I’ve put together this “How to guide” so you know you’re doing the right things.
The first thing to check is how you signed up. If you want to take studies, you need to sign up as a PARTICIPANT.
Once you’ve clicked “Sign up as a participant”, enter your information & register.
N.B. It’s a good idea to set up an email address that you use only for survey sites/apps. It helps keep you on top of what you’re doing and means that any emails relating to online money earning won’t be muddled in with your normal emails. Gmail is recommended.
I’m going to go a little out of order here, so you do the most important things first.
When you click on the Dashboard link, you’re taken to your account.
On this page, you can change your name & email address. To change them, just click on the text & it’ll show a little box where you can change the information.
You can also see an overview of how much money you have in your Prolific account. Studies are manually approved so earnings will pend until the researcher has completed going through the submissions. Prolific automatically approves payments after 21 days.
This is also the page from which you can cash out. You can cash out any amount from £5 upwards. It’s currently free to check out over £20 to Circle.
Prolific requires you to verify your account using 2 of the 3 available options if you want to cash out. It’s a good idea to verify your account straight away.
You can verify via email, phone (SMS) and Facebook.
To verify your account, go to Dashboard —-> Trust. You can then choose the ways that you want to verify.
It’s imperative that you answer all the prescreening questions. Prolific is a rare site in that all the demographics are taken into account BEFORE you get offered any studies. That means, you only get studies you’re eligible for and in order for them to know which studies you’re eligible for, you got it, you need to answer the prescreening questions.
Check this page at least once a week in case any new questions have been added.
Prescreening questions can be found under Dashboard —-> Prescreening.
When you start a study, it will be added to your Manage Studies tab.
On this page, you can see you score, total amount earned, a list of all the studies you have attempted on Prolific & any bonus payments.
Prolific score – This starts at 100. If you have a study rejected by a researcher, your score will go down.
Total earned – this total includes every study that has been Approved.
- The date you took the study
- The title of the study – This is clickable so you can go back and read the study information again if you want.
- The name of the researcher, including a contact button.
- Your reward – the money you were/will be paid for taking the study
- The status of the study – this should show as “Awaiting Review” until the researcher approves it. If you didn’t complete the study, it will show as “Returned” or “Timed out”.
- The completion code that you should have been supplied with at the end of each study. Usually this will be a clickable link or button at the end of the study. Sometimes it’s a link or code you have to copy and paste.
- What happens to your payment once it’s approved. This is automatically set to be added to your personal balance but you can choose to donate the reward to charity instead.
- You can return a study before it’s been approved if you want to. You should only do this if you no longer want your data to be included in the research.
Occasionally you may get a bonus payment from a study. You will usually be alerted to this possibility at the start of the study but sometimes they come as a surprise.
Most bonus payments are fairly small but I’ve had a few that have been over £1.
Bonuses are shown below the Studies on the Manage Studies page.
You can see:
- The date you were awarded the bonus
- The title of the study you were awarded the bonus for
- Name of the researcher &contact button
- Amount of the bonus
Bonus payments are added to your balance.
You can contact a researcher via the messages tab.
Sometimes you’ll receive messages from a researcher, such as reminders for follow up studies, or answers to questions you’ve asked. These will show in your messages inbox & will also be emailed to you. You can reply from the message on prolific, or through the email you receive.
Any messages that you’ve sent to a researcher will show up in the “Sent Messages” box.
Any emails that you send will be routed through prolific to keep your email address private and unable to be connected back to you so it does not corrupt the data that the researchers collect.
Once you’ve been signed up for a couple of weeks, you can start referring people. You’ll earn 10% of your referral’s first cash out.
You can only refer people once you’ve verified you account using all 3 options that Prolific offers, email, phone & Facebook. The referrals tab should show up a few hours after you’ve completed all the verifications.
On the referrals page you can find:
- Your referral link
- Buttons to share your referral to social media or via email.
- A list of all your referrals (email addresses)
- The status of your referrals
- The status of your referrals and the amount you’ve earned via them.
If your referrals don’t show as in the screenshot, they may have signed up as a researcher. If this is the case, they’ll have to contact Prolific & ask them to change their account type.
When there is a study that you’re eligible to take, it will appear on the Studies page.
Please note: The vast majority of the time you will NOT be informed about studies you can take. It is up to you to check the Studies page on a regular basis. You can install a program, called Distill monitor, on your browser (Chrome/Firefox/Opera on computer only) which will alert you to studies you’re eligible for.
When an available study shows up, you will be able to see:
- Title of the study
- Name of the Researcher
- Amount you’ll be paid for completing the study
- The average amount this would earn you per hour. This is worked out using the reward amount & the average completion time. Please note: the minimum that a researcher is allowed to pay is £5/hour.
- The amount of spaces left in the study. You’ll sometimes be shown a study that is already full. If participants return the study, or don’t complete it within the required time frame, places will open up again. Therefore, it may be worth your while to reload the page a few times to see if a space opens up. Studies tend to get filled very quickly.
- The maximum amount of time you can take to complete this study.
- The average completion time. I find that studies usually take less time than is stated.
If you want to take the study, click on the “Select This Study” button.
You’ll then be taken to the study information page. On this page you can see all the information from the previous page, plus a description of the study.
You’ll also be able to see what devices you can take this study on. Almost all the studies can be taken on computers (laptops, desktops etc), fewer can be done on tablets and many are not available to take on mobiles. Some people have found that studies still work on mobiles even when they say that they don’t, so it may be worth your while to try.
To take the study click “Start Now”.
Please note: Until you click Start Now, places can still be taken so you may miss out if there aren’t many left.
If the study is full, you won’t be able to start the study but can still read the information.
When you click “Start Now”, you’ll be taken to the study page.
I find that it’s best to “Open Study in New Window”. It’s much easier to take the studies that way & you’ll be able to get back to it easily if you accidentally close the page.
We’ll come back to the rest of this page soon. Scroll on 🙂
When you reach the end of a study, there should be a completion link that takes you back to Prolific. Sometimes this will be the complete button, sometimes the study will ask you to click on a link. Sometimes, you’ll have to copy & paste the link or code. If you have to copy the code, go back to the study page (screenshot above) and paste it where it says “Study Code”. Then “Submit Study”.
When you click on a completion link, it’ll take you to a completion page where you should see the information below. You do not need to do anything else if you see this page. You have successfully completed the study & the code has automatically been added to your submission.
If you’re not given a code & there was no link to click, select “I’ve finished!” and “Contact the researcher” to let them know that you completed the study but couldn’t find a completion code.
If you decide you no longer want to do the study, select “Stop without completing.” This will return your submission and open a space for someone else.
You can see how much you have in your Prolific account on the “Account” page.
When you complete a study, the reward amount will be added to your Pending Balance. It will stay there until the study is approved by the researcher. Prolific will approve the study after 21 days if the researcher has not done so.
Click on the “Get Paid” button to cash out.
Cashing out amounts over £20 to Circle is currently FREE.
When you click “Get Paid”, you’ll have the option to choose which method to use.
Click “Get Paid” again & you’ll be redirected back to the Account page with a message that your money is on it’s way. It can take up to 5 days to receive payments.
You’ll also receive an email confirming that you’ve cashed out.
- Sign up as a PARTICIPANT.
- Verify your account.
- Complete all your PRESCREENING questions.
- Check the STUDIES page regularly.
- If you haven’t had any studies for at least a week after signing up & you’ve done all of the above, email prolific to ask if there’s an issue with your account.
- How much will you get when you cash out on Prolific.
- Get alerted to new studies with the Prolific Assistant or Distill.
- Join our Facebook group for Prolific UK users.