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What are 'returned' studies?

Submission statuses explained

Read more about study submission statuses and what they mean here

What is a 'returned' submission?

Sometimes you won’t go all the way to the end of a study, for reasons we’ll outline below. The short version, is that returning a study is essentially leaving a study before the end.

You might have accidentally signed up for a mobile-only study on your laptop, but it wasn’t until the study launched in a new window that you’d realised! It’d be totally unfair to be rejected for an honest mistake, which is where a return comes in. We don't expect you to submit this as complete, instead, you ‘return’ the study and leave it there.

Another example might be a technical issue on starting the study, or you’d misread that quick 1-minute duration, landing yourself in a 1-hour study that you weren’t expecting.

You’re also well within your rights to return a study if you’re just not interested anymore.

How do I return a submission?

Close the study and under Submissions, you’ll have the option to ‘return’ the study instead by selecting the red circular arrow to 'Return + cancel reward':


This is all you need to do; it effectively hands the study back and makes sure you won't receive an unwarranted rejection.

Just remember, you won’t be paid for a returned submission, as you haven’t completed it.

Why has a researcher asked me to return a study?

Researchers may request that you return your submission if:

  • You completed part of a study and didn't finish all of it. For example, you were fairly screened out
  • You encountered technical problems. You should not be rejected for this (in which case, please ask the researcher to consider awarding partial payments but do bear in mind they are not obligated to pay)
  • You withdrew your consent (in which case the researcher will delete any data that they have from you in their external software)
  • The researcher feels that you should be given the opportunity to return your submission for another reason, rather than be penalised with a rejection. Remember that rejections should only be used in cases where a participant has been clearly negligent.

Please note researchers cannot return submissions themselves.

Prolific reserves the right to overturn invalid rejections in certain circumstances.

If you feel you're being unfairly asked to return a study, feel free to contact support using the button below and send us:

  • screenshots of messages between you and the researcher
  • the name of the study you're referring to.

 Click here to contact us

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