Completing studies - submission guidelines

At Prolific, we know how important it is that both our researchers and participants are on the same page. After all, we are all working towards the same common goal: to make trustworthy data more accessible and facilitate world-changing research. This is why having clear submission guidelines is integral to our platform and overall mission.

Below, you'll find a set of guidelines that we encourage all participants to follow. Checking out our core company values will also offer a practical framework for every participant on Prolific to keep in mind when taking part in studies on the platform.

Broadly speaking, there are four main reasons why a researcher may choose to reject a submission (though please note this isn't exhaustive):

  1. You completed the study exceptionally fast
  2. You skipped crucial questions
  3. You failed one or multiple fair attention checks
  4. You didn't sufficiently engage in a task where the level of engagement needed was clearly specified.

Completing a study exceptionally fast

While fighting the temptation to work through studies as quickly as possible can be challenging, slow and steady really does win the race at Prolific. All studies come with a researcher's estimation of how long they think that the study should take, and this is something that should be considered when entering a study.

We recommend only ever taking part in a study if you know that you're able to dedicate enough time to reading through all the questions properly, really think about your answers, and articulating them to the researcher. Our researchers are always really grateful when they can see that a participant has put thought, care and consideration into their submission and will reward you accordingly.

Skipping crucial questions

The value of a participant's time is well understood and respected by the researcher's on Prolific. Researchers will almost never ask questions that aren't directly relevant or important to their research. This is why the best approach is to consider all question asked as crucial (unless explicitly stated as optional), answering each and everyone to the best of your ability.

Failing attention checks

Attention checks are used by researchers as a simple way to determine who is paying attention to their study instructions. These help researchers identify submissions that might be of lower quality, which is important to ensure that they have the trustworthy data needed for their research. Making sure you read every question carefully will help to guarantee you don't get caught out by any of these checks.

Not sufficiently engaging in a task

Engagement shows a high level of effort and that the task was completed with the utmost seriousness. When you aren't sufficiently engaged, the quality of your submission drops and so too does the researcher's confidence in the quality/reliability of the data. A participant that may not be sufficiently engaged, for example, may only put a few words or gibberish when asked to write a paragraph.

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