Sunday, 29 January 2017

Prolific Academic - get paid to participate in academic studies

Do you take surveys for cash?

Maybe you're one of those lucky people who gets inundated with surveys and receives regular payments, or maybe you're more like me, someone who never seems to fit the demographic that most surveys are interested in.

If you don't live in the USA, UK or one or two other preferred countries, many survey sites won't care that you exist. Others will accept you regardless of your country of residence, but that's no guarantee of success.

Over the last few years I've tried several survey sites, some international, others based in my country of residence. Without exception I've been unable to earn enough to cash out from any of them. Not even once. (You can read my experiences at PaidViewPoint in an article I published at HubPages in 2014.)

Prolific Academic is Different

Strictly speaking Prolific Academic (PA) isn't a survey site. You're actually participating in academic research, answering far more meaningful questions than whether you regularly buy Brand X or whether you prefer Brand Y.

It doesn't matter whether you're an average mother with 2.5 children or whether you're fifty-something and live alone. I doesn't matter which country you live in. You will fit the demographic for some studies.

There is a bit of luck involved, however. You have to visit the site at the right time because places in the studies are limited and, as a rule, PA won't send you notifications when a suitable one becomes available.

My Experience

I joined PA in February 2016. Within a day of joining I'd participated in my first study. It paid £1.25. Despite that the going was slow. I've never been lucky enough to get the high paying surveys which offer £5.00 or more. I'm not sure whether it's a case of my not fitting the demographic for those or whether it's just bad timing. Regardless I get enough studies to make it worth the effort.

I cashed out for the first time in early May 2016. To date I've been paid £55.00 and I've currently got over £7.00 in my account. I've participated in over 60 studies, none of which have taken long to complete. It's not a fortune, but I've yet to find another site where I can earn as much without putting in a lot more time and effort.

How it Works

Once you've created your account at PA the first thing you should do is visit the prescreening section where you'll be asked a number of questions about yourself and your lifestyle. While answering these questions is entirely optional I recommend that you answer everything that doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. The more information you give PA, the more studies you're likely to receive. I found the questions pretty basic and haven't encountered any which I was unwilling to answer.

The prescreening seems pretty effective as I've only once been disqualified from a study I started, something which seems to happen quite frequently at a lot of regular survey sites.

Once you're finished with the prescreening questions it's time to check the studies page. You probably won't get your first study immediately but hopefully you won't have to wait too long. Some times of year are slower than others however, so don't be concerned if you have to wait a few days. I got no studies for a full month over the Christmas holiday period. Thankfully traffic returned to normal in the second week of January and I've had several studies since then. It's always unpredictable though. Sometimes I've had to wait a week or more between studies. Other times I've received three in a matter of hours.

Be sure to refresh the studies page frequently so that you won't miss out on the studies for which you're eligible. They can show up at any time of day or night, and they usually fill up fast.

When you complete a study the money you earn will go into your pending balance. Depending on who's running the study, the payment could be cleared within hours or it could take a lot longer. I've had payments remaining pending for two weeks or more, but they all get cleared eventually.

PA is based in the UK, so studies pay in Pounds. You can request payment via PayPal as soon as your have £5.00 in your account but you may prefer to save on PayPal fees by waiting until your balance reaches £20.00. Once you've requested payment the money will arrive in your PayPal account pretty quickly.

You may have questions I haven't covered, so be sure to read PA's participant FAQs.

If you decide to join PA, I'd appreciate it if you use my referral link. It will cost you nothing, but it may help me to get my next payment a little sooner.

Update 1 May 2017

In February 2017 I discovered a wonderful app called VisualPing. This app will notify you every time a web page of your choice is updated. As members aren't notified when there are new studies available, I chose to get "pinged' every time the studies page changed.

As soon as the app pinged I'd click on the accompanying notification and the studies page would open. With my relatively slow internet connection I was often too late to see the new studies, and even when I did many were already full by the time I clicked on them. Despite that I was getting a lot more studies than I had in the past.

Then in early March the studies stopped coming. I was disappointed but unconcerned as I'd experienced dry spells before. But after a month without a single study it became apparent that something wasn't right. I'd heard talk at ForumCoin that some countries had been banned by PA. Could South Africa be one of them?

A message to PA support confirmed my fears. Their response read:
Yes, I am very sorry to let you know that this is true. You currently have no eligibility for studies due to changes, which mean we are currently unable to support participants in your country on the platform. Please check back in future when we hope to be able to offer you more studies.
I'm keeping my account open in the hope that things do change because PA was the most lucrative site I've been a member of for quite some time. I also hope I can still get a bit of income if some of my referrals cash out there. But I'm really disappointed that I can no longer take part in their studies as I found some of them quite enjoyable.

For people from countries that haven't been banned, PA is still a site I highly recommend. According to information I read on ForumCoin, the following countries should be able to participate: AT, AU, BE, CA, CH, CL, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IL, IS, IT, JP, KR, LU, LV, MX, NL, NO, NZ, PL, PT, SE, SI, TR, US.  If you're still uncertain whether studies are available to people from your country. I suggest you contact PA support. Maybe you'll get a more positive response than I did.