Finding a respectable online survey site reminds us of mining for gold. For the most part, it’s a fool’s errand. Beneath all the pebbles and muck lies Prolific (previously Prolific Academic).
Prolific is a legit academic research platform where users can earn a solid hourly rate, and dare we say it, even have a little fun.
In this Prolific review, we take a hands-on look at the app, based on many hours of real-world research. Stay tuned to the end for tips on how you can earn $12+ an hour taking surveys in your spare time.
Prolific is the single best online survey app on the market. The pay is top-notch (for a survey site), there is no prescreening process, and payments are handled swiftly through PayPal. On top of that, the studies are more interesting and more beneficial to society than those found on other sites.
The main drawback to Prolific is the frequency of new studies. During busy times and in countries like the U.S., users who completely fill out their profiles can expect about 20 new studies per day. Weekends, holidays, and summers tend to be slower, sometimes much slower.
- High hourly rate (for a survey site) of approx. $12+ p/h
- Low cashout threshold (5 GBP)
- PayPal payments
- Interesting, and semi-frequent studies
- Few disqualifications
- Occasional software bugs
- Poor email notification system
- Study frequency varies by location
- Not going to replace a full- or part-time job
How much can you make taking paid surveys on Prolific?
Let’s get straight to the foremost question on many of your minds: Just how much will Prolific pay me for my time?
We participated in studies for over one month, and our investigation revealed that users can expect to make in the vicinity of $12 per hour (our exact hourly was $12.30) on Prolific. That’s nothing to cheer about, but compared to most online survey sites, Prolific shines.
However, the hourly rate is not the best indicator of what you’ll actually earn on a monthly basis, as the surveys don’t exactly pour in like they do on “get paid to” sites like Swagbucks.
Instead, Prolific studies pop up every now and again throughout the day, with more seats available early in the week and during the school year, and fewer on weekends, holidays, and in the summer.
On average, we were able to sneak in anywhere between 3-10 studies per day, most of them taking up no more than 10 minutes of our time. That number jumps to 15-20+ during busy periods.
Here is living, breathing proof of our earnings over a 5-week period, most of it already withdrawn and resting easy in our PayPal account:
A few of our most recent studies haven’t even been approved yet, so our actual earnings are even higher: about $125 over roughly 10 hours. Doesn’t quite pay for that PlayStation 5, but it at least nets us a game and an extra controller.
Prolific is not your average survey app
Prolific studies are commissioned by academic institutions like Harvard University, Yale, and Stanford, which are looking for people across select demographic groups to provide data for their studies.
Why is this worth mentioning? Because it enables Prolific to offer some very interesting surveys, where participants get the opportunity to provide meaningful input on important issues.
Gone are the usual mind-numbing surveys asking users to evaluate four deodorant labels. Instead, psychological, socioeconomic, and cognition exercises are the norm, and some of them can be pretty engaging. Others can be downright trippy.
Getting started on Prolific
We absolutely detest signing up for survey sites, because it often entails filling out pages upon pages of boring profiling information, with the promise that your efforts will result in more targeted surveys, and fewer disqualifications. (This often doesn’t work as intended).
Well, signing up on Prolific is still a bit of a chore, as there are still more than 200 profiling questions to answe. But most of them are short and sweet, and it only took us about 25 minutes to knock them out.
Luckily, entering your personal details on Prolific actually serves a purpose, as Prolific will mostly invite you to studies for which you qualify. There are no dreaded prescreening questions and no demographic-based disqualifications. This is refreshing, as anyone who has wasted countless hours trying to qualify for surveys can attest.
However, just because Prolific deems you worthy, doesn’t always mean you are. Do yourself a favor and at least read each survey description to see if you’re a good fit. Sometimes there’s a glitch in the matrix and you’ll be offered a study outside your demo. It doesn’t happen frequently, but often enough to point out.
Unfortunately, you do not receive any monetary incentive for signing up and answering the profiling questions, so chalk that up as one of the site’s few cons.
Prolific is available in many countries including 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, and the US. The frequency of surveys may vary by locale.
What makes Prolific legit?
The Prolific exudes legitimacy, with a simple yet efficient desktop interface that is broken up into three tabs: Studies, Submissions, and About You. Navigation is hardly a chore and the site responds at an acceptable speed.
We did encounter the occasional software bug, and studies can be a tad slow to load when there’s heavy traffic, but only once did it impede our ability to complete a study. In that lone instance, customer service was happy to sort out the issue and credited us for our troubles.
From the detective’s desk: Prolific is also available on Android and iOS powered devices through a mobile browser, but there is no mobile app. Not all studies are available on mobile. On the Studies tab, under each study, there are icons indicating which devices are permitted.
Most studies are approved lightning fast, although you will encounter the occasional straggler. Prolific provides a safeguard against this problem, auto approving studies that are in limbo for 21 days. We do wish that timeline was shorter, but it’s better than nothing.
Surveys are generally pretty short, ranging from one minute up to roughly half an hour. There are instances where participants may be invited to follow-up surveys, which tend toward the longer side and pay well.
Pay rates per survey vary pretty widely, but Prolific provides you an estimate of the hourly rate, so you’ll know exactly what you’re signing up for ahead of time. In our experience, the hourly estimate tends toward the conservative side. For example, a survey that’s pegged to take 10 minutes will more often take 7-8 minutes as opposed to 12.
Prolific bonus payments
On occasion, a researcher may offer a bonus payment, on top of the promised monetary reward. Sometimes these are performance-based, incentivizing participants to be truthful and attentive. Other times, they’re based on a lottery or a guessing game. This aspect of Prolific elevates its already interesting surveys to the next plateau, as engagement can result in cold hard cash.
Bonuses vary widely in value, but they’re rarely negligible. In fact, there were instances when the bonus was substantially larger than the guaranteed payment. Check this out:
The Prolific survey app isn’t without its flaws
Prolific isn’t going to replace a full-time job, as the surveys are too infrequent, and the pay rate (while exceptional for a survey site) is still only a few bucks above the federal minimum wage here in the U.S.
The number of studies you’re offered will depend greatly on both your location and personal details, and the time of year. We had a great experience, but can’t guarantee that you’ll have the same. The only way to know is to sign up and hope for the best.
It’s also worth mentioning that a few users have complained about being banned. However, it is our opinion that these users either didn’t always provide truthful answers or repeatedly failed attention checks.
We mentioned previously that Prolific studies are far more engaging and interesting than those found on other sites. For some, that’s a big pro, serving as a welcome reprieve from the monotony, but for others, the studies will prove too engaging. Prolific often requires participants to read long passages, use a webcam, and type out their responses. If taking surveys while watching Netflix is your thing, Prolific might not be the best fit.
Lastly, Prolific’s email notification system is erratic, meaning sometimes you’ll get notifications when a new study arrives, sometimes they’ll hit your inbox after the study has filled, and sometimes not at all. Given the speed at which Prolific studies fill, the email notification system needs vast improvement. Luckily, there’s an alternative, which we’ll discuss in the “Tips and tricks” section
Getting paid on Prolific
Cashouts are handled via PayPal exclusively, which is a little restrictive, but still better than getting paid in gift cards. Participants must link and verify their PayPal accounts before getting paid.
The minimum threshold for withdrawing is 5 GBP, which is roughly $6.50. Payouts are initially handled only on Tuesdays and Fridays, but once you’ve successfully cashed out four times to the same email address, the withdrawals will hit your account almost instantaneously.
Our experience jives with these claims, with funds taking no longer than 3 days to reach our PayPal account. Here’s the living, breathing proof:
Reminder: At Value Sleuths, we always thoroughly investigate a product before putting pen to paper, or in this case, finger to keyboard.
Tips and tricks to maximize earnings on Prolific
As with anything, users who educate themselves who going to get more out of a product than those who don’t. If you’re serious about making the most out of your valuable time on Prolific, heed these simple words of advice:
- Get the Prolific Assistant extension on Chrome: This is an absolute lifesaver that will help you dramatically increase your monthly earnings. The extension itself is simple: It alerts you when there’s a new study available, and provides a quick snapshot of the study. If you want to beat the rush, you need this tool. Just don’t do what we did and leave it on overnight, as it’s pretty loud and can awaken you from a good slumber.
- Know the best times: Prolific offers the majority of its studies during weekday mornings and afternoons. For freelancers, this is great, as it probably overlaps with their regular working hours. For 9-to-5ers, not so much. A decent number of surveys are offered on weekday evenings. Just don’t bother with weekends and holidays. Also, expect fewer surveys during the summer months, when universities aren’t nearly as active.
- Capture those bonuses: Researchers will occasionally award performance-based bonuses to exceptional participants. Keep that in mind when providing written and/or audio answers. Also, always favor studies that have the word “Bonus” in the title description.
- Don’t forget your ID: Prolific users are identified by their Prolific ID. Sometimes your ID is copied directly into the study, sometimes you have to grab it from the survey’s landing page and copy it in yourself. Don’t forget. You’ll also receive a completion code at the end of each study. Again, this is usually automatically entered, but sometimes you’ll have to paste it manually. If you forget, you can enter NOCODE and Prolific will sort it out — it just might take a little longer to get paid.
- Currency exchange: This is a minor one, but Prolific pays in GBP. If you live in the U.S., you can hold off on withdrawing until the exchange rate is favorable. It’ll probably only net you a few pennies, but a penny earned is…a penny earned!
With these tips in mind, you could easily net $200 a month in your spare time – not a bad chunk of change for helping the world become a better place.