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Week 7 (July 1 - 7)

User Study Lesson 6: User Study payments are taxable income.
Ended pilot 1.
Initiated pilot 2.

This week we ended our first pilot, with some disappointments. As mentioned in a previous journal entry, our participants were not submitting their receipts and surveys following the requested schedule. It was already the endof the the fourth week of the pilot, and we had only received two weeks worth of submissions.

Since the four weeks of the pilot were coming to a close this week, and we were disappointed with the submsission process, we decided to notify the participants that we will be officially ending the pilot (not extending it as was a possibility), and if they had not already sent their 3rd week submission, we would not accept it or pay for it. We also required that the fourth week submission be postmarked by a certain date (following the originally requested schedule) in order for payment to be issued.

We also found this week that the income the survey participants receive is considered taxable income, and that the University prefers to cut the checks directly to the participants (Jen was writing checks from her personal account initially and then submitting paperwork for reimbursement). We had to notify the pilot participants that the income they received is considered taxable.

User Study Lesson 6: Monetary payment that user study participants receive is considered taxable income. In order to bypass the paperwork involved in this, in addition to avoiding the delaying process of obtaining a University check, consider offering gift certificates as compensation for survey participation. I've found many user studies offer gift certificates.

This week we also decided to initiate a second pilot in order to implement the changes we learned from the first pilot and to work out more details of the survey. We decided it would be sufficient to utilize just one participant, and we decided to use a senior participant. We contacted a candidate, provided the conditions of the survey (which included payment amount based on submission time) and gave her the option of receiving compensation in the form of gift certificates or direct payment, informing the participant that the process of receiving the checks from the University could involve delays and that the income is taxable. The participant opted for direct payment which we didn't mind since this would be good practice.

I assembled all the paperwork for the second pilot and sent them off at the end of the week. I also worked on this website extensively this week.

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