Become a Research Subject: Strange Ways to Make Money

It’s not news that you can make money by becoming a medical research subject. There are ads in most major papers, on TV and the Internet recruiting people with various conditions to try new drugs and therapies. These can be good ways to make money if you qualify and if you aren’t worried about the effects of experimental therapies. Most medical research studies pay you for your time, they cover the necessary medical tests and procedures, they provide or reimburse you for the medications, and some even pay you mileage to and from the hospital or doctor’s office.

What’s not as widely known is that you can also become a research subject in other fields. These types of projects don’t usually involve strange drugs or being stabbed with a needle. Psychology, sociology, economics, many of the sciences, and even fields like communication often need research subjects. These types of jobs are most often found on college campuses where students need to complete dissertations and theses and professors need to publish. Ads may be posted in the school paper, on the college web site, or on the bulletin boards in the respective departments. You might also find students soliciting volunteers in the lobby or on the main concourse. Large scale projects might be advertised in the local or regional paper.

The work and the pay vary widely. You may be asked to complete an experiment, answer a questionnaire or complete a survey, or agree to be observed for a few days. The project may take you five days or five months. Not all research gigs pay, but many do. You may make a little bit of cash or get an incentive like a gift card or a coupon for a free meal at a local restaurant. Before you devote your time, make certain that you’re clear on any payment and that you think it’s a worthwhile trade for your time. Nothing stinks more than keeping a diary for five months as part of a psychology project and then getting a coupon for a free waffle at Waffle House. That’s hardly worth your time, unless you really wanted to keep that diary.

You can also become a research subject in other places, if you keep your eyes open. Places like amusement parks, stores, restaurants, hotels, or even movie theaters sometimes have customer research specialists surveying patrons. You can’t just volunteer; most are looking for specific people or family groups. However, if a surveyor asks you for a minute of your time you might get something in return. Sometimes you get cash, other times you get a meal voucher or gift card.

Finally, check your receipts. Sometimes stores and restaurants will offer you a free meal, money off your next order, or some other incentive to get you to take a survey about your experience. These are often very short and can be worth your time. Usually, once you complete the survey you get a code to write on your receipt that validates your participation. The ones that are not worth your time are the surveys that give you a chance to win something big like a
$5,000 gift card. Unless you have nothing else to do or you have something horrible or wonderful you want to share with the company, don’t bother. Your odds of winning these are extremely long.

Being a research subject doesn’t always involve medical procedures and weird drugs. There are many other interesting and even fun projects out there that will pay you a little something for your time. Look around and see if anyone is advertising or picking people out of the crowd. If so, you might make a little money.

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