Participating in research could provide extra income

Getting Paid for Research

by Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L

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You often hear clips on the evening news or radio, read magazine articles, or stumble upon online statistics, correlations, and discoveries about diet, fitness, body weight, and various health issues. For example, is coffee really good for you? Where does this information comes from?

Researchers, clinicians, and psychologists in and near your community are performing valuable studies all the time, and are often seeking people like you, with different demographics like age, race, and education level, for their subject pool. You can be a "lab rat" or "guinea pig" while making money! You're just a number, an anonymous statistic, your name isn't used, and you may ultimately become part of some major study. Participating in research is fun, interesting, easy, and requires no preparation.

Get psyched for psychology experiments.

Usually at a college, university, or research institute, psychology experiments require subjects so that they can gather data, and reach a conclusion about a theory. These are non-invasive, painless studies, and unlike the image from science fiction films, you are not connected to a bunch of wires. Many of them require you to attend for only one session that may last one to two hours. Expect to complete a preliminary survey upon arrival and then sit in an office-type setting at a computer to perform specific tasks.

There is a wide range of studies occurring simultaneously. During one summer, a teacher participated in enough projects to finance a short vacation. One lab at a campus research institute required her to search the web using a new social bookmarking service about financial topics and to list key words and tags. Besides getting paid in cash, she learned about the economy while surfing. Another project involved finding hidden objects with a new scanning device for possible use for airport security. A different study testing depth perception involved "driving" in a simulated car; it cautioned folks who have a problem with motion sickness not to participate. One study was attempting to link gambling behavior characteristics and depression; there was even an opportunity to do a bonus problem with the chance to earn more money!

There are several ways to learn about becoming a participant in psychology studies. Contacting the psychology department of your nearby college or checking their website may be the best way. Your local newspaper may publish an advertisement. They often specify eligibility, such as required age range, gender, your vision with eyeglasses or contact lenses, your main language, and whether you are left or right-handed. Once you have been in a study, ask to be on a list to do future studies

Participating in research on health to increase your wealth.

At a hospital, clinic, medical research center, or university, research is being performed. Subjects like you are needed for these studies. Some of these require one or a few sessions, but many are longitudinal, and occur over a longer period of time. Studies in your own town are easy logistically, but many that involve travel may pay for your transportation and lodging in addition to the ample stipend they provide. One couple had relatives living near a major research center. They each qualified to be in a specific study requiring one three-hour session; both opted to participate and each was paid. What a creative way to lower the price of a family trip!

Sleep apnea, depression, and hypertension are a few disorders currently being researched around the country. You must meet their criteria; once you are on site, they begin with medical history and physical exam. One local university was doing a longitudinal study relating diet and exercise for seniors. Food and free gym membership were provided in addition to a generous stipend. A different study at a major Osteoporosis Research Center sought people diagnosed with low bone density for a one-time study involving several thousand dollars worth of free non-invasive tests. A stipend was also provided. It's an interesting way to get a second opinion.

Next time you are at the clinic ask your doctor or look for posters seeking subjects for medical studies. Or search online using the name of a specific disease as your key word. You'll be amazed at all the syndromes currently being studied. Ask to be on a list for future studies.

Focus on focus groups and other paid marketing research.

Focus groups are used for marketing research of products and services. They're usually found in larger cities. They can be fun and you're likely to meet some interesting people in addition to getting paid. You've probably heard of Nielsen Television Ratings. This is not a group but is paid research done from your home. All you need to do is watch TV. Results help advertisers choose appropriate shows for their ads. Check Nielsen website to see if you qualify as a Nielsen family. Sign up and get paid.

Participating in research can be an interesting and potentially valuable experience. Search online for opportunities. Check it out.

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