Ask Prolific: changes in service fees

A number of researchers have been getting in touch with our excellent Support team about the changes in service fees for existing customers. To save you from needing to open a ticket

What’s changed with the customer service fee, and why?

Prolific service fees show as a margin of your total spend rather than a markup on participant rewards. There’s actually no change in how we calculate the rewards, it’s purely a phrasing thing.

Under the old markup phrasing, we talked about the service fee as an additional 33.33% on top of participant rewards. Now, we just talk about the service fee as 25% of the total spend.

As for why, we heard from researchers that the existing fee terminology was confusing, so this change is to make it clearer to see what fees Prolific charges and how much participants receive.

These changes came into effect on 6 June 2022.

How much more am I paying because of this change?

If you’re an existing customer your fees haven’t changed - only the way we talk about service fees - so your costs should be the same as before and the service fees are still charged on top of participant payments.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re running a study that has a total spend of £100.

The study cost is calculated based on participant awards plus an additional 33.33% service fee:

  • Study cost: £100
  • Participant rewards: £75
  • Service fee: £25

The service fee charged is 33.33% of the £75 for participant rewards, which is £25 (excluding VAT).

£25 can also be referred to here as 25% of the total study cost. Under the new phrasing, the service fee is still calculated the same way. We’re just talking about it as a margin of your total spend rather than a markup on participant payments.

Is the fee 25% of participant payments or 25% of the whole study cost?

No. The fee you’ll be charged is 25% of your whole study cost. We don’t take money away from our participants and always charge our fee on top.

Do academics get a discount?

To support underfunded research, academic researchers pay a slightly lower rate than the standard 30% rate paid by non-academic researchers. There’s more on that in the Researcher Help Centre

What about VAT?

VAT depends on which country you’re registered in. If you’re in the UK, it will continue to be charged at 20% on service fees alone (no VAT is charged on participant rewards). There’s more on how VAT works in the Researcher Help Centre. You can read more about VAT charges in the Researcher Help Centre.

What other questions do you have about the changes in service fees? Feel free to ask in the thread below and we’ll get you the answer.

If your question is urgent, and/or relates to a specific study you’re running, please raise a request with our Support team and they’ll be able to offer you specific advice.

I think the previous way of talking about the service fee–as a percentage of participant rewards–was probably the clearest way to talk about. Now, for customers to know how you calculated the total, you’ll either have to tell them what percentage you used to calculate the total (that percentage is 33.33 in the example above), or they’ll have to set-up and solve their own equation:

ServicePercentage =
((NewFangledServiceFee * (1/NewFangledServicePercentage) ) / (RewardsAmount)) - 1