Research Compensation and Lottery: An Online Empirical Pilot Study

  • Masood Zangeneh
  • Reza Barmaki
  • Hilary Gibson-Wood
  • Michael-Jane Levitan
  • Rosemary Romeo
  • Jennifer Bottoms


Recruiting participants for a research project can be challenging. Incentives, particularly monetary incentives, have been shown to increase response rates. Offering a monetary incentive for participation in a research study can become very costly for the investigators. For this reason some researchers, including graduate students involved in under-funded projects, have resorted to lottery compensation to attract participants. From an ethical standpoint, all participants in a research study should be treated equally and fairly. Compensation lotteries, however, undermine equal treatment of all participants (notion of justice) because they prevent equal distribution of rewards. In this pilot study, we were interested in exploring and understanding the prevalence and determinants of the use of lottery compensation method by graduate students from Canadian universities as a way of compensating participants in their research studies. A sample of 50 students from five major Canadian universities participated. Three methods of compensation were identified in this study: cash reimbursement, grade mark and lottery draw for a prize. Results show that the availability of funding is the main determinant of the use of lottery compensation: students with sufficient funds were more likely to use cash incentives, while those without adequate funds were more likely to use lottery draws. Ethical implications are further discussed.


Lottery Compensation Gambling Ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masood Zangeneh
    • 1
  • Reza Barmaki
    • 2
  • Hilary Gibson-Wood
    • 3
  • Michael-Jane Levitan
    • 4
  • Rosemary Romeo
    • 5
  • Jennifer Bottoms
    • 3
  1. 1.International Journal of Mental Health & AddictionAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada

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