The User Research Incentive Calculator

This calculator was first published on December 12, 2019 and was updated on March 30, 2021 to reflect new data and insights from our Ops team.

Great research starts with finding the right participants to do your research with. Without good participants, the feedback you gather could point you in the wrong direction, or you could end up spending more time than you need to in research sessions.

So how do you ensure your study is stocked with great participants? Offer incentives that are valuable to them! Our incentive calculator can help you determine incentives that are valuable to participants of all kinds.

The Ultimate Guide to Research Incentives compiled data from over 25,000 research sessions conducted on the User Interviews platform, with various types of participants, studies, and lengths. The incentives for these sessions were paid in USD, to participants within the US and Canada. 

Since that report was published way way back in 2019, we’ve made some updates to our incentive recommendations, with help from fresh data and experience from our Ops team. 

It’s important to note that research incentives can be one of those “it depends” things. There are many factors to consider, and what’s fair compensation for one set of participants might seem stingy to others. Use our recommendations as a starting point, not an end-all be-all number. 

Incentive calculator variables and inputs

Research takes time and effort for someone to participate in, and what that time is worth changes based on what you’re asking for in your study. 

We ask about a number of different variables that help us make a better recommendation for your study. This section explains what we mean by consumer, professional, moderated, unmoderated, remote, and in-person. 


When we say consumer, we’re talking about participants that do not have job title targeting. Of course, consumer participants often have jobs, and may also participate as professionals in other studies. But in this case, their job isn’t what you need to ask them about in your study.

For example, if you’re running a study on grocery shopping and you need to talk to people between the ages of 25-35 who are the primary shoppers for their household, you’d be targeting consumers. 

You’d also be targeting consumers if you want to talk to people who have recently purchased a specific kind of lawnmower, maintain a garden, or live in towns of less than 30,000 people. If they need to be landscape architects, we’re talking about professionals. 


In our calculator, professional participants are people targeted based on their job titles and skills. They are more difficult to match, and expect more compensation for their time. 

For example, if you need to talk to cardiologists in Chicago, you’re targeting professionals. 

The same goes for targeting VPs of marketing, Uber drivers, or developers. These are all professionals, (not to be confused with “professional participants” who try to participate in studies as a primary source of income). 

For our calculator, we divided participants by their yearly income. This makes it easier to determine which incentives are fair and meaningful to your participants. Of course, these are not hard and fast numbers, so use our recommendations as a starting point to talk to your team about what’s best for your project and your participants. 


A remote study is any study that doesn’t require the participant and the researcher to be in the same physical location. This can mean a video chat, a phone call, or asynchronously recorded submission. 


An in-person study requires the participant and the researcher to be in the same physical location. These could involve having the participant come to your office for an interview, hosting an in-person focus group, or conducting ethnography research. In-person research can also include things like on-the-street research, or in-store shop-alongs. 

Moderated sessions

Moderated sessions are sessions that have a moderator present. This could be a researcher, designer, PM, or anyone else who guides the participant through the task or questions at hand. Generative interviews, moderated usability tests, and field studies are all moderated research activities. 

Unmoderated sessions

Unmoderated sessions don’t have a moderator present. This means the participant completes the activity on their own, without the help of a researcher or moderator. Unmoderated usability tests, tree tests, diary studies, and first click tests are all examples of unmoderated tasks. 

How we made our calculator

Our calculator was made with a tool called ConvertCalculator. It allows us to create a complex calculator that takes the variables from your questions and multiplies them by a per-minute rate depending on what kind of participant you need. All incentives are rounded to the nearest 5—so $10, $15, etc.

See why 1,700+ teams rely on Research Hub to grow their customer panel and automate research studies.

Read the full article here

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