Beyond the challenge to research integrity: imposter participation in incentivised qualitative research and its impact on community engagement

Kerryn Drysdale, Nathanael Wells, Anthony K.J. Smith, Nilakshi Gunatillaka, Elizabeth Ann Sturgiss, Tim Wark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Participant recruitment for qualitative research often offers incentives (honoraria; financial compensation) to increase participation and to recognise lived expertise and time involved in research. While not necessarily a new concern for survey and other quantitative based research, ‘spam', ‘bot', and other inauthentic forms of research participation has rarely been an apparent issue for qualitative research, given it often involves levels of interaction with potential participants prior to the conduct of in-depth interviews and other methods of data generation. This is no longer the case. A troubling new occurrence has meant that recruitment calls for qualitative research with incentives on public-facing social media have attracted ‘imposter’ expressions of interest and research participation. In this commentary, we explore this challenge that goes beyond research integrity. In particular, we consider the risks of employing strategies to screen for legitimate participants and the importance of building trust and maintaining community engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-380
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • community engagement
  • imposter participants
  • incentivised research
  • marginalised communities
  • Qualitative research
  • research integrity
  • trust

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