Survey Participation Incentives

Incentive offers for online surveys

An incentive offer can be used to encourage participation in a survey. An incentive could be in the form of extra credit in a class, a chance to win a prize (enter a drawing), or a reward given to every respondent.

  • Many people will not complete a survey unless it benefits them in some way.
  • The incentive must be included in the survey that is submitted for IRB approval.
  • Information about the incentive should appear in the Informed Consent that participants agree to.
  • Place incentive questions on the last page of the survey to encourage survey completion.
  • In order to award an incentive, you must explicitly ask respondents for their contact information (e.g. name and email address) within the survey.
  • Indicate whether respondent contact information will be separated from their responses by a 3rd party (i.e. ODL staff) or if it will remain with the user’s responses when given to the researcher.
  • Incentive participation should be clearly labeled as optional.
  • Indicate whether survey needs to be completely answered to earn the incentive. Remember that IRB discourages the use of required questions other than data that must be collected to track respondents for pre/post tests or to screen respondents for eligibility.

If you wish to include a prize as an incentive:

  • Inform respondents of the prize drawing date and describe how winners will be notified. Include this information in the consent and where respondents provide their contact information for the incentive.
  • Indicate whether respondents can enter multiple times.
  • TIP: If you are surveying ISU respondents, you can reduce multiple entries per person by stating that only ISU email addresses will be considered in the drawing.


If you wish to include extra course credit as in incentive:

  • Obtain the instructor’s permission ahead of time. Have the instructor email ODL staff (Karla EMbleton, to document that this is acceptable.
  • Within the survey, ask students’ for their ISU email or net-ID.
  • If the survey is to be made available in multiple concurrent courses…
    • have each student select the course that extra credit should apply towards (provide them with list of choices)
    • indicate whether extra credit can be earned for more than one course
    • if multi-course extra credit is possible, indicate whether student can earn it through one submission or must make separate submissions for each course.


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