To review and discuss the ethical and practical considerations about paying patient and caregiver participants in nursing research and, based on this review, to develop a set of guiding principles about payment of participants.To increase recruitment and retention, it is becoming increasingly common in nursing research to provide some form of payment to participants. The risk is that the promise of a payment may influence a patient or caregiver's decision to participate in research. However, research ethics protocols seldom provide explicit guidance about paying participants. Even where formal policies or fee schedules exist, there is little consistency in determining how payments should be calculated or administered. This has resulted in highly variable payment practices between locations, disciplines and institutions.Discussion paper.PubMed, MEDLINE with Full Text, CINAHL and Health Source (Nursing/Academic Edition) were searched for terms related to paying research participants published between 2000 - August 2016.Nurse researchers must comply with international, national and institutional ethical standards. Important ethical and practical considerations should guide the decision-making process about whether to pay research participants and how to determine the nature or value of the payment. Guiding principles can support researchers by highlighting key factors that may direct their decision-making in this regard.A deeper understanding of the fundamental ethical and practical considerations is needed to support researchers in their deliberations about paying participants in nursing research.