Incentive Payments

Incentive Payments to Participants

The IRB will assess any incentive gifts or payments in your research protocol with regard to impact on participants, especially with respect to coercion, etc. Best practices in human subjects research typically discourage providing incentives for participating in minimal risk research studies. However, to thank participants for their time and effort, you may provide a monetary or gift incentive, such as a gift card, t-shirt, etc. You should include these in your research protocol as "incentives," even if intended as gratuities.  

When conducting research with a vulnerable population or in international settings, you should take into consideration whether small gifts or incentives have greater impact due to a particular population's culture or economic situation, and clarify this context in the protocol.

If you have received external funding and wish to provide incentives of $50.01 or more to one participant (this means total of incentives to an individual; for example, six $10 gift cards or one $75 gift card), you must obtain a W-9 form from each human subject participant/recipient. This policy on incentive payments to human participants was developed by the SU IRB, the SU Office of Sponsored Projects, and the Controller's Office, in line with common policies at other institutions.  Non-externally funded studies are not bound by this policy.

Due to tax implications, the Controller's Office recommends using the term "incentives" vs. "compensation" for any research study payments.

An "incentive" gift or payment is offered to the participant in exchange for participation. In contrast, if you provide small refreshments or snacks to participants during your study, these are not considered "incentives" in the protocol or in recruitment materials.