Participant Management

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  • Remuneration is compensation, in the form of check, gift card, etc., for participating in a research study.
  • Reimbursement is repayment for expenses, such as mileage, parking, meals, etc., related to participation in a research study. 


  • Payments to research participants are commonly proposed as an incentive for participation in recognition of the time, effort, inconveniences, and discomforts that participation in the proposed research may entail.
  • In contrast to payments, reimbursement is provided to cover actual costs incurred by participants as a result of participation (e.g., travel, parking, lodging, etc.).
  • Payment arrangements should be managed separately from reimbursement whenever possible because the ethical considerations differ (as well as the potential tax implications).
  • The IRB must consider the proposed amount of payment, the method and timing of disbursement, the study population, the recruitment methods and materials, and the information provided within the proposed consent form in order to evaluate the acceptability of a proposed payment plan.
  • The proposed amount and schedule of payments and the justification or basis for payment should be included in the IRB application.
  • The consent form must describe the terms of payment including the amount and schedule of payments and any conditions under which participants will receive partial payment (e.g., if they withdraw from the study before participation is complete) or no payment.
  • Plans to reimburse participants for incurred expenses must also be outlined in the IRB application and described in the consent document.
  • If participants are provided with non-monetary gifts or tokens of appreciation, such as course credit, tote bags, books, toys, or other such materials, the approximate retail value must be described to the IRB, along with a description, photo, or sample product to review.