Research Subject Compensation

Cash Handling Policy Statement

The establishment of strong internal controls for disbursement of cash and its equivalent is necessary to prevent mishandling of funds and to safeguard against loss.  Strong internal controls are also designed to protect employees and students from inappropriate charges of mishandling funds by defining his/her responsibilities in the cash handling process.  Included in the definition of cash and cash equivalents are the following: cash, checks, gift cards or other items of monetary value.

Research Subject Compensation Policy & Procedures

The University of Iowa balances a responsibility to maintain various levels of confidentiality for information about human research subjects with the record keeping requirements of the State of Iowa, grantor agencies and the Internal Revenue Service.

Payments to subjects in research studies will be recorded as a form of compensation.  Payments include, but are not limited to: checks, cash, gift cards (including electronic gift cards), or any other items of value.

See Grant Accounting Research Subject Compensation Policy & Procedures for requirements regarding confidentiality and record keeping requirements of the State of Iowa, grantor agencies and the Internal Revenue Service.

Every research project submitted to IRB involving compensation to research subjects must have a completed procedure through workflow or an email from for limited exceptions listed below.


  • If you are using Accounts Payable eVoucher system, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Greenphire ClinCards, Qualtrics, or Prolific, please email for approval.  A workflow form does not need to be completed.
  • If any role is being fulfilled by a person or entity not affiliated with The University of Iowa, email

This form will route through Workflow to the Departmental Research Administrator then to Accounting and Financial Reporting for approval.  Once AFR approves, the Cash Handling Form will be marked “complete” in Workflow.  A system-generated email will be sent to the Form Initiator stating the form has completed routing.  This email should be attached to the HawkIRB application. The Org Business Officer will also be notified of approval.

Required Responsibilities by Role

Departmental Research Administrator

  • Responsible for presenting the cash handling training materials to the individuals in the roles below in a timely manner.    Training Material

Faculty Advisor/Principal Investigator

  • Ultimately responsible for reasonably ensuring the proper custody, safekeeping and accountability of all cash & cash equivalents.
  • Responsible for reasonably ensuring that the amount of cash/cash equivalents that is requested is consistent with the needs of the research project.

Cash Requestor/Obtainer

  • Purchases cash equivalents or receives cash advance.
  • Provides proof/receipt of purchase to the Reconciler.
  • Has access to cash equivalents.
  • Ensures that cash equivalents are kept in a secure environment (safe or locking cash box/bag in a locked drawer).

Disburser of Payments

  • Disburses the cash/cash equivalents to the research subjects.
  • Maintains a journal/log of research subjects.  Sends an email to the Reconciler at least monthly with the total amount of compensation disbursed.
  • Has access to cash/cash equivalents.
  • Serve as the contact person for any internal or external audit of cash equivalents (for example, audit of gift cards).
  • Ensures that cash/cash equivalents are kept in a secure environment (safe or locking cash box/bag in a locked drawer).
  • Responsible for returning all unused cash/cash equivalents (gift cards & any other items of value). Ensures that the project/department does not retain cash/cash equivalents that is returned by the research subject. The project cannot retain cash/cash equivalents from research subjects as a gift. If cash remains for any reason, it must be returned to Accounting and Financial Reporting to close the advance. However, they may use the remaining cash equivalents to fund research subject payments for other similar research projects. If this is done, journal entries must be made to move the cost of the compensation to the new project. Any other remaining cash equivalents must be sent to Surplus Operations.


  • Verifies amount of cash equivalents purchased is reflected on the accounting statements (SA3 or TDR) as part of the monthly review.
  • Must be aware that journal logs are maintained.
  • Must NOT have access to cash equivalents.


Training Material

Cash Handling is a function of the Accounting and Financial Reporting Office.  For questions or additional information, contact