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The 15 Best Sites for Paid Research Studies

Paid Research Studies
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Paid research studies are somewhat similar to survey sites, but these studies go a lot more in-depth. The marketing company may ask you to keep a diary of your activities for a week or longer, or they may conduct multiple hour-long phone interviews. They’ll also screen your demographic info much more carefully than if you were conducting simple product tests

As such, the payout for research studies is much more than for surveys, with between $50 and $100 per hour being common. Read on to find out more about paid research studies, and which ones are worth your time.

Key Facts About Paid Research Studies

These studies vary in form and topic and sometimes go by different names, like clinical trials, focus groups, shopalongs, user surveys, paid research opportunities and more. In each case, a company or organization hires a market research firm to answer a question. It could be anything from “Which baby food logo do moms prefer?” to “How many Hispanic citizens in Cincinnati have a favorable view of candidate John Doe?” 

The topic of the research determines what kind of study subjects the project requires, so researchers have to gather respondents of specific demographics. If you sign up for the research company’s database and you fit the profile, they will email or call you to participate in the study. In some cases, you can browse research opportunities and apply to the ones you’re most interested in.

Studies can take various forms: an emailed survey, a phone interview, a video chat, an in-person group panel, keeping a diary of certain activities and more. Your honest responses help companies make marketing and product decisions. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pursue this side hustle:

  • You won’t qualify for every study, so plan to apply to a lot of them and with multiple marketing companies.
  • Answer honestly. Lie on the surveys and the recruiter will likely ban you from the platform permanently.
  • Check your email regularly. Paid research studies are usually time-sensitive, and often the first respondents are rewarded for their punctuality.
  • Do your homework. Not every company that claims to do research is legit. Some take your info, “disqualify you” for the study, then sell that info to other companies. Check sites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Reddit and Trustpilot to sift out the time wasters and bad actors.
  • Check their payment terms. Companies pay in gift cards, cash, or via apps like PayPal. The timeframe of when you’ll be paid varies widely between companies, so read the fine print.

We’ve compiled a list of some popular companies that conduct paid research studies. Some are generalists, while some cater to a specific clientele or demographic. 

#1. User Interviews

Types of studies:Online via video chat, in person.
Topics:Mostly product evaluations, but some medical research as well.
Typical time required30 to 60 minutes.
Compensation$50 to $100 per hour.
Sign up:Visit User Interviews.

In our experience, User Interviews offers a very high payout compared to the time spent. During our test, we earned a net rate of $55 per hour. Most of the payments are in the form of Amazon gift cards rather than cash, though there are occasionally PayPal options.

#2. Respondent

Types of studies:Online via video chat, unmoderated tasks, diary studies.
Topics:Business-related studies with some general audience topics as well.
Typical time required30 to 60 minutes.
Compensation$100 per hour or more.
Sign up:Visit Respondent.

Respondent focuses their recruitment on IT/tech employees, CEOs and other industry professionals. They offer hefty compensation for participants, which can rise to as much as $750 per hour (according to their website). Respondent pays in PayPal only and only allows you to apply to three studies per day.

While the payouts for Respondent studies are high, it can be difficult to qualify for them. Professionals in IT and other technology business roles tend to have an easier time. You can only apply to the B2B studies if you link your work email to your Respondent profile.

We only earned $31 per hour in our Respondent testing, but that still makes this one of the highest-paying market research opportunities we’ve discovered. 

#3. DScout

Types of studies:The most common are diaries with video responses. They also offer live 1-on-1 interviews (live missions).
Topics:Random topics, such as feedback on software, tattoos or financial wellness.
Typical time requiredAround an hour for live missions; 20 to 30 minutes per day for longer missions.
CompensationDiary missions pay $50 to $200.
Sign up:Visit DScout.

A Reddit user who goes by the screen name sauciestcoconut claims to have made over $2,000 with DScout, noting that their key to success is that they “literally apply to almost every single mission that I might qualify for. I skip the ones that obviously don’t relate to me (about kids or certain occupations) but I submit several applications a day.”

#4. Universities

Types of studies:Medical, psychology.
Topics:Decision-making, behavior, nutrition and more.
Typical time requiredDepends on the study (may be multiple meetings over several weeks).
Compensation$8 to $25 per hour for behavioral research (may be in gift cards), $100+ for medical research.
Sign up:Do an internet search to find each university’s sign-up website for paid research.

These are the original source of paid research studies, so if you live near a university, they can be a great option to make some extra cash. They can be trickier to locate, as each department will have its own recruitment methods.

There is no central repository for these studies that we could find, but here is a list of a few major institutions to get you started:

To sign up to be part of the pool of research study participants at your local university, do an internet search for the university’s name and “paid research studies.” Many (though not all) research studies are conducted in person.

Here’s another route to find these opportunities: if you live near a medical research university, ask your doctor if they know of any clinical trials going on that you may qualify for.

#5. Fieldwork

Types of studies:Taste tests, product trials, shop-along interviews, phone interviews, online research, in-person focus groups.
Topics:Consumer studies, employment studies, and studies for healthcare professionals.
Typical time required1 to 2 hours.
Compensation$75 or more per study.
Sign up:Visit Fieldwork.

Fieldwork offers focus groups in 13 locations around the U.S. If you don’t live near one, you can join their online database. They especially need doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals for their studies.

After you register with their site, an employee will call or email you when you come up as a match for a study’s requirements. They have a good reputation as a legitimate company, but users say it’s imperative that you answer the phone when they call. Otherwise, they’ll move on to the next qualifying person on their list.

#6. U.S. Government Clinical Trials

Types of studies:Drug reactions and medical treatments.
Topics:Medical.
Typical time requiredVaries.
CompensationVaries.
Sign up:Visit the government website for clinical trials.

The federal government is always looking for people to participate in clinical trials of various medications and treatments, many of which are conducted through the National Institutes of Health.

These studies can be a particularly good option if you suffer from a chronic medical condition, as you may gain access to cutting-edge treatments before they’re widely available. And as a general rule, these trials are safe; although they may not produce the results that the researchers are hoping for, researchers don’t conduct trials that they believe have the potential to cause harm. 

You can find a list of ongoing clinical trials at clinicaltrials.gov. This is just a repository for the information; each trial is conducted by a different company, university or organization, and you’ll have to contact each study you’re applying for by phone or email. No compensation information is available on the site, and pay rates vary widely depending on factors such as the required time commitment. 

#7. FocusGroup.com

Types of studies:Online, in-person, shop-along, phone, mobile app.
Topics:Technology, food, healthcare and more.
Typical time required:An hour or more.
Compensation:After you reach 1,000 points ($10), you can redeem your points for gift cards.
Sign up:Visit FocusGroup.com.

FocusGroup.com has 16 facilities nationwide where you can participate in face-to-face focus groups and panels. These typically pay well, since there’s more work involved in attending an in-person interview than a phone or internet survey.

This company is now owned by Schlesinger Group (rebranded as SAGO), and the change has caused some operational hiccups. For example, there have been several complaints to the Better Business Bureau of participants not getting paid and receiving poor or no communication from the company. However, most of these issues have reportedly been resolved. 

#8. Rare Patient Voice

Types of studies:Web-assisted phone interviews, online surveys, clinical trials.
Topics:Medical info regarding rare diseases/conditions.
Typical time required5 to 90 minutes for surveys (usually around 60).
Compensation$120 per hour.
Sign up:Visit Rare Patient Voice.

Due to the nature of this company’s clientele, it is extremely difficult for them to match people to research studies, as they focus on rare diseases and conditions. That said, if you do qualify (and they list their ongoing studies directly on their site), you are handsomely compensated.

Rare Patient Voice has a good reputation, earning an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Most of the complaints from participants are related to delayed payment due to an investigation on whether the participant sped through the questions too quickly to give a thorough review. 

#9. FindFocusGroups.com

Types of studies:Webcam interviews, online forum.
Topics:Health, consumer opinions, jobs, technology, and more.
Typical time requiredAround 45 to 60 minutes.
Compensation$100 to $600.
Sign up:Visit FindFocusGroups.com.

This site doesn’t host paid research studies directly; it’s more like Craigslist for vetted, high-paying focus groups. (That means you’ll have to apply to each study individually.) Focus groups are sorted by city and state, but there are nationwide online groups as well.

The interface of the site is filled with ads, so make sure that when you click on a sign-up link you’re signing up for an individual study, not clicking over to a random advertiser (some of whom make their ads looks like study invitations).

The reputation of FindFocusGroups.com is hard to speak to as the site is just a board that posts the focus groups of various companies.

#10. SIS International

Types of studies:In-home research, online focus group, online interviews, in-person focus groups.
Topics:Product research, politics, online habits, social issues, etc.
Typical time required90 minutes to 2 hours.
Compensation$25 to $200 (not always in USD)
Sign up:Visit SIS International.

As you might guess from the name, SIS International is one of the few companies on this list that is open to participants around the world. Their research covers a broad range of industries — everything from burgers to butane.

Participants seem to like participating in SIS International’s research. The company has five stars on Trustpilot and many complimentary reviews from former study participants. 

#11. Probe Market Research

Types of studies:In-person focus group, phone interviews and online interviews.
Topics:Consumer info, business-to-business and healthcare.
Typical time required1 to 2 hours.
Compensation$50 to $400.
Sign up:Visit Probe Market Research.

Probe Market Research has three focuses: consumer studies, business-to-business research and healthcare. It’s a legit company, though some participants complain of late payments and the inconvenience of getting paid in virtual Visa cards, which can only be used online and expire in 90 days. However, the company has four stars on Yelp and most reviews are positive.

#12. Focus Insite

Types of studies:In-person and online focus groups, online interviews.
Topics:Medical, technical, jobs, product reviews, etc.
Typical time required45 minutes to 3 hours.
Compensation$100 to $600.
Sign up:Visit Focus Insite.

Though they pay well, several Reddit users note that it’s pretty hard to qualify for these studies. Though the reviews aren’t all bad; for example, Redditor stormborn29 said, “Focus Insite sent me a really nice vacuum to test, and I was paid $200 — plus I got to keep the vacuum.” 

Focus Insite does, however, have a few unresolved BBB complaints regarding the lack of payment to participants. They have an active Facebook page, but the reviews on that page look unrelated to market research or surveys. In other words, this research company appears to be legit, but we still recommend proceeding with caution. 

#13. WatchLab

Types of studies:Phone and webcam interviews, usability tests, online and in-person focus groups, shop-alongs, taste tests, mock trials, etc.
Topics:Social media, entertainment, voting, shopping, etc.
Typical time required45 minutes to 2 hours.
CompensationUp to $400.
Sign up:Visit WatchLab.

If you’re curious about the latest WatchLab studies, check out their Facebook page. WatchLab’s website is geared toward companies that employ them, not participants, so you’ll get more information on Facebook. Many studies are related to social media use.

This firm is notorious for taking a long time to pay, and they’ve been dinged by many users for not paying at all. They only have 2.5 stars on Yelp (based on 32 reviews), and most of the complaints are due to nonpayment. 

#14. GLG

Types of studies:Expert witness testimonies, phone calls, surveys.
Topics:Tech/IT, law, medicine, other professional topics.
Typical time required1 hour.
CompensationUp to $500 per hour.
Sign up:Visit GLG.

GLG presents a different type of opportunity than most of the other companies on this list. They do research on big purchasing decisions, recruit expert witnesses for trials and more. They keep a list of industry experts in management, law, finance and other professional fields to interview or consult on special cases or niche studies.

“Consultants” usually have years of industry experience, and often have leadership roles. A handful of other companies do this too; AlphaSights, Guidepoint, Third Bridge and Coleman are a few others. 

The screening required to become a consultant for GLG and other high-paying research firms is extensive, as they only want respondents that have specific credentials. To get selected, veterans in this consulting side gig world recommend being very detailed in your LinkedIn profile, as recruiters for these studies rely heavily on the platform to identify potential participants.

Many studies are geared toward mid to senior-level professionals, and if you’re matched with a study, you can make up to $500 per hour or more.

#15. Recruit + Field

Types of studies:In-person focus groups, online boards, webcam interviews and digital diaries.
Topics:Consumer, B2B, healthcare.
Typical time required1 to 2.5 hours.
Compensation$50 to $400.
Sign up:Visit Recruit + Field.

Recruit + Field covers the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They have an impressive list of clients, including Apple, Netflix, Clinique, Spotify and more. This company is somewhere between a GLG (looking for experts) and FieldWork (looking for all walks of life plus healthcare professionals), as they recruit in each of these areas.

Their reputation is fairly good; Recruit + Field has an A- rating on BBB (only 4 complaints, all of which have been answered). 

What About Apex Focus Group?

When we tested Apex Focus Group, we found that the platform offers none of its own paid research studies and uses misleading marketing tactics to get users to sign up for its email list. Once opted in, the company sends affiliate marketing messages to your inbox. Some of those messages contain legit focus group opportunities, but they’re the same focus groups you could find on your own — often by visiting the sites listed above.

Paid Research Study Sites: Summary and Final Thoughts

You won’t qualify for every study, and unfortunately, no amount of hard work will change that. (Plus these companies now have layers of checks and AI algorithms to vet cheating and lying, so don’t try that either). 

Because of this, paid research studies fall squarely in the side-hustle-only camp. For the best return, apply to a number of studies you have a good chance of qualifying for, and quickly respond when you get a call or email from the market research company (as many studies are deadline driven). 

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent looking to make a few bucks during naptime or a senior project manager looking for a good-paying, low-maintenance side gig, paid research studies can be an easy way to make extra money.

Different companies cater to different demographics, and hence, want different research participants. So do your homework on the research company before you sign up to get a better response rate. 

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Jenni Sisson
Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor focused on personal finance, technology and entrepreneurship. She is a serial side hustler and the host of the Mama's Money Map podcast. Reach out via her website.

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