Compensating research participants

We use a variety of research methods to help us learn about our customers, test our ideas, and improve our products.

Often, our customers or users are happy to help us out to make their experience with Sourcegraph better. Other times, we do research through, which recruits and compensates participants automatically without our involvement.

However, there are times when it makes sense to compensate research participants for their time and involvement in our research activities. We have one way of providing compensation to user research participants:

  1. An Amazon gift card. Note that Amazon gift cards are not available in all regions and it’s important that we manage participant’s expectations accordingly.

Compensation rate

We have a flat hourly rate of $60 USD / hour for compensation in user research. We will always compensate for at least one full hour, even if the research session takes less than the full hour. This simplifies communication, expectations, and our own accounting.


While planning user research, if you feel it’s the right choice to offer compensation for participants, the process is as follows:

  1. Identify how long each session will be and the total cost of compensating all participants.

  2. Share your research plan and expected cost with Finance ( or in the #finance Slack channel) to make sure the research budget is available and approved.

  3. Conduct your research!

  4. During or after the session, send the Sourcegraph Research Compensation form to participants to collect their information.

    • It’s a good idea to warn participants that we can only purchase Amazon gift cards in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States.
  5. Create a virtual card in Airbase

    • Click “Request” > “Spend” in the upper right hand corner.
    • Select Amazon as the vendor.
    • Select USD for the amount. Enter the total value for all gift cards you need to purchase. For example, if you need to buy 3 $60 Amazon gift cards, you should enter $180 as the amount.
    • Choose “67300 Consultants and other Professional Services” as the accounting category.
    • Learn more about how Sourcegraph uses Airbase.
  6. Use your approved virtual card to purchase Amazon gift cards directly through Amazon.

  7. Submit receipts for each Amazon gift card in Airbase.

Whoever is the DRI for the research initiative is accountable for making sure the end-to-end compensation process is followed and that the research participants are ultimately compensated.