Reimbursing Research Participants - Human Research Ethics Procedure
|Date Approved||24 October 2007|
Respect for persons is central in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research as is the requirement that consent to participate in research is freely given and informed. Reimbursement of participants in research is a means of encouraging those who might otherwise be unwilling to participate, to become involved. It also provides practical recognition of the costs that participants often face.
This Procedure supports the principles of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research in relation to the reimbursement of costs to participants in research. Those principles stipulate that it is generally appropriate to reimburse the costs to participants of taking part in research, including costs such as travel, accommodation and parking. Sometimes participants may also be paid for time involved. However, payment that is disproportionate to the time involved, or any other inducement that is likely to encourage participants to take risks, is ethically unacceptable’ (2.2.10).
i. Reimbursement may be offered to potential research participants to cover the costs associated with participating in the research. Costs will usually include travel, parking and any accommodation or meals that may be required. Reimbursement may also be necessary to cover associated costs such as income forgone, childminding fees, or similar expenses.
2.2. Types of Reimbursement
i Reimbursement may be provided in the form of cash, or a cash refund, or in kind e.g.. parking vouchers). An alternative option is to recognise participants’ willingness to participate by, for example, providing tickets in a prize draw.
ii Other methods may be acceptable but all reimbursement options must comply with University policy and NSW law. Cash payments, for example, are subject to occupational health and safety guidelines (refer Section 3.1.9 Off Site Visit/Interview Safety Guidelines).
iii If a prize draw method is used, it is considered a gratuitous lottery and must be conducted in accordance with the Lotteries and Art Unions Act 1901.
2.3. Informing Participants
i If reimbursement is to be offered, participants must be advised of the type and amount of reimbursement and any conditions affecting when or how it will be paid. The type or amount of reimbursement may be indicated on advertising posters or handouts but full details must be provided on the participant information statement and given to potential participants in sufficient time to allow them to ask questions and to make informed decisions.
ii It cannot be a condition of payment that a participant completes their involvement prior to reimbursement. Participants must be able to withdraw at any stage without financial penalty. Researchers may provide incremental payments as successive components or activities involving participants are completed.
i The level of any reimbursement offered must not induce or entice a person to take risks and must be commensurate with the activity. For example, reimbursement for a very brief commitment that involves little cost or inconvenience to participants is likely to be small compared to that for longer involvements that might cause the participant forgone income and marked inconvenience.
ii The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) is obliged to ensure that the level of reimbursement offered is commensurate with the activity and not an unreasonable inducement for a person to participate themselves or to involve those for whom they are legally responsible.
If the amount of reimbursement proposed seems high to researchers it will usually also seem high to the HREC and may be challenged. In that instance researchers are strongly advised to provide a brief justification in their application to facilitate HREC decision making.
The HREC will consider the amount of reimbursement in accordance with the National Statement which states: ‘payment that is disproportionate to the time involved, or any other inducement that is likely to encourage participants to take risks, is ethically unacceptable’ (NS 2.2.10).
3. Essential Supporting Documents
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
4. Related Documents
Off Site Visit/Interview Safety Guidelines
Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing – Gratuitous Lotteries Fact Sheet
|Date Approved||24 October 2007|
|Date for Review||24 October 2010|
|Policy Sponsor||Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)|
|Policy Owner||Director, Research Services|
|Policy Contact||Senior Human Research Ethics Officer|
Updated hyperlinks Governance & Policy, 31 August 2010
New Procedure approved 24 October 2007