There are plenty of ways to earn extra cash online, and one easy method that is known to pay decent money is to do paid research studies.
But the question is, where can you find the best paid research studies online?
I have tested hundreds of paid research opportunities, and in this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about paid research studies so you can find out how to get the most out of earning this way.
I’ll also list down several sites you can join and include a brief summary of each site, so you can easily figure out which ones will fit your needs.
All the sites I will be including in this guide are legit and free to join. So, you’ll just need to invest a bit of time and some effort in order to earn.
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Paid research studies are activities done by companies, businesses, or even schools that are designed to gather data.
Technically speaking, if a company or business is the one conducting it, it is called paid market research. But regardless of who is doing it, the process still remains the same. The participants of these activities will get paid to provide valuable input.
There are several types of paid research studies you can find online. Among the common ones are one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and surveys. These activities can be conducted online or in person.
For one-on-one interviews, whether they are conducted online or in person, the process usually involves discussing a certain topic. You will be asked to provide your opinion on certain topics. And once you are done with the interview, that’s when you will be compensated.
For focus groups, the dynamic will be a bit different because this activity will involve multiple people. Just like with interviews, it can be done online or in person. The activity will have one or more moderators and the rest will be participants.
Focus groups are conducted to gather opinions about a specific topic in a group setting to gain extra insights from the group dynamic. For example, a movie company wants to get the best ending for its movie. They conduct a focus group on which kind of ending will resonate with more people. Then you as a participant, will choose which kind of ending you prefer and discuss it in the group. This is actually a pretty common thing, especially with big companies.
Surveys, on the other hand, are less personal, because you won’t be interacting with anyone. You will just be answering a set of questions. But what you need to know about surveys is, they usually have a qualifying process you need to go through.
This is how companies are able to filter the appropriate respondents. So, when you answer a survey, the first set of questions are usually the qualifying questions. If you qualify, you get to proceed to the actual survey.
By far, among all the types of paid research studies, the most common one you can find online is paid surveys. This is also the type of paid research study that pays the lowest. It’s not surprising though since this kind of study requires the least time and effort to complete.
All the other activities usually take up a bit of time and some effort too.
Now, if you are wondering where these in-person research studies take place, it is usually conducted in facilities provided by the company/business/school. So, you will have to travel to that facility in order to participate.
How to earn the most?
Each site that offers paid research studies has different pay structures. Some pay more than others. So, it’s really hard to put an exact figure on how much money you can earn per site.
But, in my experience, the best way to earn the most from these sites is to join around 5 to 7 sites. That way, you gain access to more opportunities and therefore, you can earn more.
In my experience, this is the perfect number of sites to get involved with especially if you are just starting out. It won’t overwhelm you, but you will still be able to earn a decent amount. You can always join more sites further down the line when you become more experienced with this kind of stuff.
11 best paid research studies online
Now that you know the basics, let’s talk about the actual sites you can join that offer paid research studies. Take note that these aren’t the only sites that offer this kind of opportunity.
Instead, they are what I found to be worthy of your time. I will keep updating this list if I find more opportunities worth adding. So, make sure to bookmark this page and check on it from time to time for new additions.
Short summary: This school’s Department of Psychology regularly conducts research studies that require participants. The research activities offered will vary but most of them are conducted in person. So, you will have to go to their facility to participate.
That means, it is only really available for people who live in the vicinity. Weinberg College is located in Evanston, Illinois. So, if you don’t live near that area, then this isn’t really something worth doing. As for how they pay you, you will usually get compensated in cash after every session you complete.
Available in: 50+ countries
Payout methods: PayPal, gift cards Payout threshold: Depends on your country More information:Read full YouGov review
Short summary: YouGov is a survey site that is available in a lot of countries and every country has its own survey panel you can join. So, if you are looking for a survey site that offers surveys in your native language, this is one of the best sites you can join.
The payment methods it offers will depend on your country, but usually, PayPal, products, or gift cards are used to withdraw your earnings. As to the payout threshold you need to reach before you can withdraw your earnings, it will depend on the country you live in.
But in my experience, it will usually be around $10 or so (or the equivalent to your local currency). So, it’s not hard to reach since they do have a decent number of surveys available.
Available in: More or less worldwide
Payout methods: PayPal, Amazon gift cards Payout threshold: N/A More information:Check out their website
Short summary: CDS or Columbia Decision Sciences, will allow you to participate in their studies online. The research studies you can participate in will vary but they will mainly be conducted online.
To participate, you have to fill out their sign-up form and submit it. Then, just wait for them to contact you via email for any opportunities to earn. After you’ve completed any of their research activities, you will be able to receive your payment via PayPal or you can convert your earnings to an Amazon gift card.
The site pays by the hour ($16/hour) for all the research studies they offer. And the best thing is, you don’t have to reach a threshold to withdraw your earnings. You will immediately be able to withdraw the payment after you complete a study.
It also accepts members anywhere in the world (more or less). So, you can register as a member regardless of where you live.
Short summary: Another survey site that offers decent earnings is called Toluna Influencers. This site is available more or less worldwide and each country has its own survey panel too. That means surveys will be offered in the local language (if applicable, otherwise, it will be in English).
You will get paid via PayPal or in gift cards. The threshold you need to reach to withdraw your earnings will depend on the country you live in though. It also has a mobile app you can download so you can convenient answer surveys from your mobile device.
Short summary: Prolific Surveys is more a crowdsourcing platform rather than a straight up survey site. It is available in many countries. To earn from this site, you can answer surveys or participate in research studies offered by other participants of the site.
You will get paid via PayPal as long as you’ve earned £5 (if you live somewhere in Europe) or $7 (if you live in the US or other regions). That’s a pretty low payout threshold, in my opinion. So, if you get to answer surveys or participate in even just one research activity, you will be able to withdraw your earnings because they do pay a decent amount.
Short summary: Branded Surveys is a straight-up survey site where you can earn by answering surveys and polls. That’s how easy it is to earn from this site. The only downside is, it is only available in the US, UK, or Canada. So, it has a pretty limited reach.
But if you are eligible to join, you can get paid via PayPal or gift cards. And best of all, their payout threshold is very low ($5). So, you won’t have to wait very long to withdraw your earnings.
They also have a decent number of surveys available, so you can definitely rely on this site for earning extra cash.
Short summary: Another school that offers paid research opportunities is the MIT Behavioral Research Laboratory. Their research studies can be conducted in-lab or online. Lab studies will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So, if you don’t live in that area, then that opportunity isn’t for you.
When you sign up, you may be asked to do various things like filling out questionnaires, playing games, performing various tasks on a computer, completing group assignments, and taking part in discussions or interviews.
You get paid in cash, gift cards, electronic gift certificates, or checks. If the amount exceeds $75, MIT BRL is required to pay you via check for tax reporting purposes. This panel is only available for US residents who are at least 18 years of age.
Available in: Worldwide
Payout methods: PayPal, Bitcoin, gift cards Payout threshold: Pays instantly More information:Read full Surveytime review
Short summary: Surveytime is a survey site that will pay you instantly. Yes, you read that right. You get paid every time you complete a survey. You will earn a flat rate of $1 per survey regardless of how long it will take to complete it.
Once you complete the survey, you can choose to get paid via PayPal or have your earnings converted to gift cards or Bitcoin. It is available globally, so you can sign up as a member anywhere in the world.
Respondent is a form of crowdsourcing site that will pay you for participating in research activities. These activities are called projects, but before you can work on one though, you will have to apply for it.
A study will either be one-on-one or an unmoderated study, and it can be conducted in person or online. The in-person study pays more, but it is harder to qualify for. Every time you complete a project, you will get paid via PayPal immediately.
But, Respondent will charge 5% or $1 (whichever is higher) every time you get paid. That’s a part of how they make money. It is available globally, so you can register as a member regardless of where you live.
Short summary: The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is part of UCLA and it is located in Los Angeles, California. Most of the research studies it offers are conducted in person. So, if you don’t live in the vicinity of their facility, I don’t really recommend this for you.
Most of the studies pertain to the brain, so qualifying for one can be hard. It’s considered a niche platform but it does pay well. It pays every participant in cash once the research session has been completed.
Short summary: As the name of the site suggests, you will be able to earn from Focusgroup.com by participating in, well, focus groups. But aside from that, you can also participate in interviews, shop along activities, and product testing.
It pays a decent amount per study you participate in. And you can usually withdraw your earnings right away for every study you complete because you only need to earn at least $10 to reach their payout threshold.
When you hit their threshold, you can withdraw your earnings via PayPal or convert them to a prepaid Visa card or gift card of your choice. The only downside of this site is, it is only available in the US.
So there you go. Those are the best paid research studies online that I have found after having tested hundreds of options.
Keep in mind that all the sites on this list are legit and free to join. You just need to invest your time and a bit of effort in order to earn from them. You also need to be patient because you won’t always qualify for these earning opportunities.
As I’ve suggested earlier, if you want to maximize your earnings, you should join around 5-7 of the sites so you gain access to more earning opportunities. I will keep updating this list if there are any new good sites to join so make sure to bookmark this page.
If you have any comments, questions, or know of paid research studies online that is not on the list, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.