Comparing Positly to the Competition

2018-05-07 02:53 AM By Luke Freeman

There are many ways to recruit participants, so what makes Positly better?

We’ve put together this guide to show you how Positly matches up to the competition.

It starts with the mission...

Our mission is to accelerate high-quality human subject research. This is because we believe that many of the challenges we face are human related. Whether it is helping people with psychological treatments, understanding cultural differences or just making good data-driven decisions, they all rely on great research.

Enabling high quality, meaningful human subject research requires that we solve one of the biggest bottlenecks in research: participant recruitment and management. Researchers need a faster, more affordable way to recruit and manage high-quality research participants and that’s where Positly comes in.

… and leads to the methods

Our core mission requires that we have a clear approach to designing and developing our platform. In fact, every single feature is designed specifically for high-quality research and developed for scalability.

Designed for high quality research

Many researchers use platforms that that aren’t designed specifically for high quality research, this can cost researchers a lot of time, energy, money and invalid results.

We think a researcher’s job isn’t to figure out complex systems to find quality participants, so we provide best practice research methods directly into our tools. We allow researchers to customise their studies in many ways, but a researcher isn’t required to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on details such as preventing duplication, calculating incentives, performing quality checks or other measures. Positly does all of this (and more) right out of the box.

Developed for scale

Positly is designed with scale in mind. When we design a feature, we think about the many different contexts in which the feature could be used. Then we try to get to the root of the problem that the researcher has and abstract the solution to the most universally useful feature. Finally, we ensure that the feature behaves in a way that the researcher would expect.

Our development process means that all researchers on Positly benefit from a versatile tool that is customisable to their needs. As we develop and release new features, Positly can be applied in different research contexts, all while maintaining a familiar and intuitive interface – freeing time for researchers to do what they do best.

= Yes = No = Partial/Varies
Student Pools
Research Firms
Survey Exchanges
Social Media
Specialised Platforms
Affordable Participant FeesThe fee that goes to the participant is not prohibitively high for most researchers.
Affordable Recruitment FeesThe fee that goes to the platform is not prohibitively high for most researchers.
Pricing Consistency & PredictabilityResearchers can be fairly sure about how much things will cost them.
Anonymous ParticipationParticipants benefit from anonymity and researchers typically get more honest answers with this guarantee.
Cheating PreventionSteps are taken to prevent participants from completing without the required steps.
Duplication PreventionSteps are taken to prevent participants from completing the same activity multiple times (unless allowed by the researcher).
Quality Checks for ParticipantsSteps are taken to ensure that participants are paying attention and providing high quality answers.
Quality Checks for ResearchersSteps are taken to ensure that researchers accurately estimate the time for completion, get feedback about the quality of their research and pay participants fairly.
Easy Participant Targeting InterfaceResearchers can easily self serve to target the participants they want for the study.
Easy Participant Management InterfaceResearchers can easily self serve to manage participants (e.g. message, set attributes, retarget) within the study using the platform.
Participant Payment MechanismResearchers do not need to manage the payment of participants, they are paid by the platform.
Bonus Payments MechanismResearchers can easily send participants a bonus payment.
Custom Attribute TargetingResearchers can store their own custom attributes about participants and use those attributes to target (or exclude) participants in future studies.
Longitudinal Study FeaturesResearchers can string together multiple steps in a study to trigger automatically at the right time (without requiring personally identifiable information from participants).
Previous Participant ExclusionsResearchers can exclude participants from studies (without requiring personally identifiable information from participants).
Previous Participant RetargetingResearchers can include participants who have taken part in previous steps in studies (without requiring personally identifiable information from participants).
Precise QuotasResearchers can recruit an exact number of participants.
Messaging MechanismResearchers can message participants from their studies (without requiring personally identifiable information from participants).
Demographic TargetingOnly participants who match certain demographic attributes will see the study is available to them.
Diverse Sample RecruitmentThe types of participants available to researchers is diverse.
Easy to Consistently Recruit Large SamplesWhenever a researcher needs a large sample they should be able to meet their target in a reasonable time.
Affordable to Consistently Recruit Large SamplesCost don't become prohibitive for the average researcher to recruit large samples for a study.
High Potential ReachThere are many participants available to be recruited into a study.
Representative Sample RecruitmentResearchers can set up their study to target attributes in a way that the participants become representative of a target population.
Currently in development but can be achieved with manual quotas. Contact us for more information.

Comparisons with other providers

Student research pools

Universities and colleges often have participant pools available for researchers to solicit for studies. These are primarily student participants who are often participating for course credit or as a requirement of their course. While this makes in-person studies easier and can sometimes reduce the cost of paying participants (such as if it is a course credit requirement), the student participants are rarely a representative population and are often in high demand which results in low numbers of participants for researchers.

A significant portion of psychology (and other social science research) study participants that are U.S. college students participating for class credit – many of them are psychology students themselves (67% according to Henrich et al, 2010).

Furthermore, the tools to manage these pools are usually limited in their sophistication, especially when conducting longitudinal studies or tracking participant attributes.

Positly draws from a more diverse group of participants who are rewarded fairly for their time, enabling larger and more accurate samples.

Market research firms

Market research firms can be helpful in providing full-service to large companies and well-funded academic research. Many of these companies have access to large and diverse panels across the globe.

However, using these firms is often cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive for smaller teams with lower budgets.

Positly is designed as a self-serve tool that can be learned quickly at an affordable cost.

Microtasking and crowdsourcing

Microtasking and crowdsourcing platforms have revolutionised social science research and have opened a large participant pool to researchers. However, their interfaces are not specifically designed for research and can be difficult to customise for high-quality research.

Positly helps researchers access a large audience while saving time on customisation, headaches with quality controls, and money.

Survey exchanges

There are many sites around the internet where researchers can “exchange surveys.” They often use a “credit” system or have a community norm of participation. Aside from the enormous amount of time required for a researcher to earn enough “credits,” it can often mean that the participant pool can be dominated by researchers, and in many ways could be an even less representative population than students.

Most survey exchanges are also quite limited in their features which means that researchers are often left to manually handling things like approvals, quality checks, demographic targeting, reporting and cannot easily conduct more advanced studies such as multi-part or longitudinal studies.

Positly is a full-featured participant recruitment and management tool that has a diverse range of participants immediately available for researchers. This saves researchers a lot of time and makes the results of the research much more meaningful.

Social media

Increasingly social media is being used to recruit participants for surveys. The participants can range from family and friends to people within specific interest groups. Sometimes participants recruited from social media are the exact ones you need (e.g. a specific interest group) but that typically isn't the case. Recruiting with social media will also require that you manage your own incentives (if you use any), messaging and can be difficult for longitudinal studies.

Positly enables you to target (and report on) specific participant attributes while allowing participants to stay anonymous and enabling management tools like payment and messaging.

Specialised platforms

Several platforms exist for specific recruitment uses such as interviewing a participant, conducting a specific type of study or as a bolt-on feature to a survey tool. These can be very well optimised for their intended use, however they are not very flexible and can be difficult (or impossible) to use for the variety of research you want to conduct.

Positly is a versatile and flexible platform that enables researchers to conduct a wide variety of research.


Traditionally advertising has been a common recruitment method. For a long time newspaper classifieds were a key tool to many researchers. In recent years, online advertising has revolutionised the targeting ability of advertising. Many online advertising platforms can provide incredibly sophisticated targeting for researchers and allow them to reach participants from all over the world.

However, the targeting provided is not the standard that a screener would produce and the information isn’t passed onto the researcher so it requires quite some sophistication to get the right participants for your studies. Furthermore, the cost of acquisition can often be too high for many researchers. The advertising platforms can only attract users to a page to sign up. It is up to the researcher to use additional tools to sign up the participants, track their activity and then do management such as paying incentives or messaging participants for follow up studies.

Positly helps you identify relevant participants and provides you with the tools to manage them throughout the entire research process.