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Personal information in studies

Personal information policy at Prolific

We take privacy of participants seriously at Prolific.

We allow selected researchers, approved by Prolific, to collect personal data / personally identifiable information (PII) in their studies. This includes inviting participants to take part in in-person studies.

If a study is collecting personal data or requesting you to take part in in-person studies, this will be made clear to you in the study detail page before you consent to take part. It will also include a list of what personal data you will be asked to provide. This will allow you to make an informed choice about whether you wish to participate in the study.

The decision to take part in these studies is totally up to you. There is no obligation to do so if you don’t feel comfortable. You are also welcome to return the study at any point should you change your mind while taking part.

Returning a study or cancelling a reservation of a study will have no negative impact on your participant account.

We still require that the majority of our researchers do not attempt to identify participants. This means that the majority of researchers should not ask you for any personal data which would make you directly or indirectly identifiable. 

How will I be able to identify legitimate studies collecting personal data?

You will be able to identify studies that have been approved to collect personal data/PII, if the study details contain a personal data collection warning.

Legitimate personal data collection warnings on studies will be formatted as shown in the screenshot below.


Screenshot 2024-06-11 at 14.18.24.png

If a study does not contain this warning but asks you for personal data / PII in either the study description only or in the study itself, please return and report this to our support team as soon as possible.

Remember that you may give some personal information to Prolific when completing your profile (see Telling us 'About You' for more information). This article refers to personal information in studies run by researchers on Prolific, rather than your account or 'About You' pages.

List of information the majority of researchers can't collect

Below is a list of personal data that, as a rule, the majority of researchers may not collect through Prolific, unless they have been approved by Prolific to do so. Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

Legitimate personal data collection studies will contain a personal data collection warning shown in the screenshot above. You can choose to take part in them or not.

 First and / or last name

 Initials

 Date of birth

 Phone number

 Address

 9 digit ZIP code or full UK postcode

 However, researchers can ask for a 5 digit ZIP code or the first letters of a UK postcode.

 Social media usernames, or links to social media accounts or posts (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok etc.)

 Gaming usernames (e.g. PlayStation Network ID, Xbox gamertag, Steam ID etc.)

 Email Address

 However, researchers can ask for your Prolific email address which will look like '594a5d31833f6d0001623f8a@email.prolific.co'.

Researchers not approved to collect personal data, should not attempt to re-identify any participant through the data provided by Prolific or any other data available to them (this may even be a criminal offence in certain areas).

If a researcher needs to contact you, we have a Prolific messaging and email system in place to ensure anonymity is protected. You can read more about our messaging system in this article: How can I contact a researcher?

If you're taking a study and notice the researcher is asking for personal information listed above and the study doesn’t contain a personal data collection warning in the study detail page, please return the study and let us know as soon as you can using the contact us button below.

Researchers are not permitted to collect financial / highly sensitive information under any circumstance. For example:

  • Passport or other ID details
  • Bank account details
  • Any account log in details 

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