How to Participate in Research Studies and Focus Groups to Make Extra Cash

Updated: February 28, 2022
by Cristian Morales

Focus groups are an excellent option to earn extra cash while sharing your knowledge or opinion about particular topics and maintain discussions regarding certain areas with the sole purpose of providing feedback.

You can earn somewhere between $100 and $300, depending on the focus group and the topic it elaborates. The registration process is usually straightforward where you need to fill out a signup form and provide your details. Later, you’ll be contacted and informed about the further steps in the process. 

If you want to make extra cash in the long-term, without committing, then you might consider participating in research studies and research groups as one option. BasicallyYou’ll for sharing your honest opinion and feedback, taking surveys, and choosing your rewards after the successful completion of the project.

Focus Groups in the USA

Focus groups are organized by market research companies with the main core of learning about potential customer needs and what do people think about the products these companies offer on the market. There are countless paid research studies Baltimore area-based, and many more across the USA. For example, some of the most popular are;

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • L&E Research
  • Toluna
  • LifePoints

For example, L&E Opinions research studies, conduct trials about tasting new foods, watching TV shows, and trying new products. 

Then, you’ll be asked to share your opinions and thoughts with their clients. All of these studies are paid. Furthermore, L&E Research spent more than 4.4 million dollars on participants only! It’s pretty impressive how easy it is to earn extra cash, only if you have the right information and know what type of job to search for.

How to Participate in Research Studies and Focus Groups to Make Extra Cash

Types of Research Studies

Before we dive any deeper into the topic, let’s discuss the types of research studies and what you can expect from each of them as a participant. There are five basic types of research studies where they elaborate on different topics and provide structural information about a certain area of interest or a single case.

Case Studies

Case studies are performed on a single subject, for example, a child with autism. Or on a single case study, a classroom for children with autism. These case studies describe the development of a situation, the individual or the group. 

The child with autism may be subject to different situations or circumstances, like, how he/she behaves when put together with other people, what are the reactions and behavior, etc. Based on their observations, each of the participants will provide an honest opinion or feedback on how this child reacted, which emotions were shown and elaborated, and provide a detailed account of what is occurring in a real-life context.

Longitudinal Studies

Longitudinal studies provide information on how people develop over time and allow further analysis and observations. These studies can measure the behavior, for example, the child with autism will be observed and determined in which conditions he/she performs better. Whether in inclusive classrooms or a self-detained environment.

Experimental Studies

Experimental studies are under controlled conditions where the researchers manipulate the variables to determine the effect on other variables. These can be single-case design or randomized group design where participants can be either randomly assigned to a control group, or chosen based on their preferences and characteristics.

Correlational Studies

Correlational studies are performed in the same environment where a relationship between one or more subjects is under observation. For example, it can be related to the location where an increased number of children with autism are being born. It describes and examines the relationship of the children with autism with the location or the month they are born in.

Focus Groups - Risks and Advantages

Focus Groups - Risks and Advantages

The focus groups environment is supportive to its participants where they can feel safe and secure to share their opinions. However, certain circumstances can create a sense of vulnerability. Psychological and social harm may be amplified through a breach of anonymity and confidentiality, so the information that was provided in these groups can lead to stigmatization, embarrassment, or shame. In severe cases, some of the participants may face legal actions due to information breaches.

Additionally, participants may feel distressed if the topic of interest being discussed correlates to their private lives. For example, if the topic is sexual behavior, sexual assault survivors may have anger or stress issues triggered. This will lead to wrong data collection and the participant state will be altered to a point when they won’t be able to take part in the focus group anymore.

Regarding the advantages, there are a plethora. Besides the passive income, you can learn more about the issues and ideas that are important but you had no idea they existed. You can also learn more about the decision-making process in such groups, share your opinion which will be greatly valued, and have the chance to make easy cash.

Disclosure and Consent

Consent can be a problematic issue in focus groups as it pertains to the degree of disclosure a participant is willing to undergo. It’s important at the beginning of the process for all of the participants to be informed about the stages in the research flow, advantages, risks, and the importance of maintaining confidential information under control. Some of the main factors that could contribute to the conduct of research studies are distance, time, gaining administrative approval in conducting the studies, budgetary requirements, and advertising. 

There are two models of consent, performance, and mental. A performance model is a public act based on interpretation and how well the participants will perform after they’ve consented to the terms and conditions. The mental model is based on the mental state of the person consenting. Warning - people with mental health diseases and issues should not be subjects in these focus groups studies unless stated differently. Meaning, if the focus group is mental health-related and such people are needed. 

In qualitative research, the methods and design are emergent to some extent, rather than pre-specified. So, it can be hard to obtain a detailed summary of the happenings in the focus group if the participants are not informed properly about the nature of the research.

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How to Choose a Harmless Focus Group or Research Studies

While there might be some ethical challenges that do not fully correspond with the general public opinions, some practical and conceptual terms can be taken into practice to raise awareness about these issues in the focus group's flow and processes. The main concern lies in obtaining consent. And this is providing clear terms and conditions on what the participants can expect in the research studies so they can decide whether they want to participate or not. It is straightforward for the participant to revoke consent in interviews, especially in one-to-one meetings. Anonymity and confidentiality can be put at risk. The companies can’t control entirely the participants and their communication outside of these groups.

The harm in the focus groups may arise when participants discuss sensitive topics, so a balanced flow needs to be obtained to avoid or close down a distressing situation. There are some strategies that can be adopted in the consent process and employed synergistically to provide the best results. 

Key determinants in choosing a harmless focus group are to get well informed, read reviews from previous participants, ensure the composition of the focus group, check whether it’s legitimate and learn more about their workflow. You can start with some survey junkie focus groups, or user interviews to get a kick-off in the industry, and later you can transition to more detail-oriented ones.

About the author 

Cristian Morales

Freelance writer and graphic designer with a can-do attitude. I became independent after spending 6 years in the hospitality industry and 5 years in banking & finance. I'm an all-rounder guy, open to working with like-minded people.

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