Income Opportunities – Research Studies

February 3rd, 2009 by Potato

Not many people outside a university know this (and not many within, either), but there are a lot of research studies out there yearning for human participants. I’d know, since my own study is in desperate need of a few healthy brains — but I’m not supposed to advertise the fact that you can make $50 for 2 hours of lying still or that you get a CD with images of your brain on it so you can have the coolest facebook profile around. So instead I’ll limit myself to talking in generalities.

First off, paid research studies aren’t quite like you’d see in the Simpsons — they’re not going to inject you with untested drugs and pit you against chimpanzees. Most studies involve a short psychological or physiological test of some sort, possibly combined with some kind of tool to look at what’s happening in the brain (MRI, EEG, etc). They’re not necessarily painless — some do give a bit of pain, or draw some blood, or have you exercise one part of your body until it cramps up, or show you grotesque images from wars and holocausts to measure your reaction. Some are inconvenient, requiring an hour of your time at the same time every day for a week or something like that… but they generally pay at least minimum wage, and usually higher for ones that are more inconvenient, which is not bad for a university student (or as bonus income for anyone that wants it, really).

A volunteer recently asked me why it was so hard to get people “These studies are a great way to make a few bucks, and the posters are all over campus. How can people miss them?” Unfortunately they do somehow, perhaps because the recruitment posters are a little bland, and don’t prominently feature the money aspect (or often mention it at all). After all, volunteers are supposed to be doing these studies for their love of science, to be part of history in the making: the financial kick-back is supposed to be just an incidental bonus. After all, it would be unethical to have people participate in a study just for money, especially if they put themselves at risk in the process. It’s an ethical dilemma I don’t fully grasp: we allow people to put themselves at risk for altruism, but not if they make a risk-benefit analysis with money? Of course, I have to say that there is the issue of paid subjects telling us what we want to hear, or doing the minimum to try to get paid (whereas those with an interest in the study might be more willing to hold their damned heads still).

If you are in the UWO area (or any university for that matter), have a closer look at some of those “volunteers needed” posters on the various designated bulletin boards. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rewards, and help a needy PhD student finish off their degree. If you’re in (or going to visit) the London area and want to know what research studies are going on, send me an email and I’ll hook you up!

2 Responses to “Income Opportunities – Research Studies”

  1. Ben Says:

    I remember back in Psych100 part of our mark (a very small part) was dependent on us participating in at least 2 of these studies. I can’t for the life of me remember what I had to do for them now though.

  2. Netbug Says:

    “…they’re not going to inject you with untested drugs and pit you against chimpanzees.”

    I actually went “awwww…” when I read this. :(