Use of Incentives in Surveys Supported by Federal Grants

Paper Presented at Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics Seminar Titled "Survey Respondent Incentives: Research and Practice" March 10, 2008

by Sandra H. Berry, Jennifer Pevar, Megan Zander Cotugno

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Discusses how financial incentives are used in survey research undertaken under federal grants.Researchers who are funded by grants that include surveys are conducting survey research with a variety of participants, including minors, minorities, and other groups that are of special interest in terms of incentive payments. Their research often covers sensitive topics and is paired with additional participation requests to subjects. They are driven by the need to achieve standards of quality that will allow publication of results in major journals. The authors discuss background factors that affect federal grants with respect to the use of incentives in surveys, including regulation, expectation for journal publication, budgets, and staffing arrangements. Survey researchers seem generally convinced that incentives should be used and are using them in a variety of ways. However, their work is reviewed by institutional review boards that have differing or no specific standards for judging the appropriateness of the payments.

The research in this report was conducted by the Survey Research Group, a service of the RAND Corporation.

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