Recruiting Participants for a Research Study – Made Easy
Recruiting participants for a research study can be an overwhelming prospect with many questions to answer before you can even get started. How do you know what demographics to target? How do you find the right participants? How do you ensure they’re motivated to participate in your study?
Although answering these questions seems daunting, it’s actually a lot easier than you think when you’re armed with the right information. This post will cover the best ways to identify the type of people you’re looking for, the best ways to find them, and how to keep them motivated throughout the process, which will make recruiting participants for your research study easier than you thought.
Identifying The Right People When Recruiting Participants For a Research Study
The first step in recruiting participants for a research study is to decide what type of participants you’re targeting. In order to do that, you have to define exactly what you want to learn when the study is complete.
Whether you are conducting a study as part of university research or you’re helping a company understand what products people want to buy, you must clearly identify exactly what it is you want to discover. This information will inform the method you choose, the type of study you create, and the kinds of questions you want to ask.
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Once your study has been developed you can begin to understand what types of people will be able to provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Create a profile for the dream participant in your study that contains information such as:
- Demographics, like their age, gender, level of education, and marital status
- Geographics, like the country, city, or region where they live
- Psychographics, like activities and hobbies they enjoy, or opinions they hold
- Behaviors, like shopping habits, social media habits, and exercise routine
The more specific you can be, the better. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is a customer or your research is relevant to everyone, so it should include everyone. Zeroing in on the goals your researchers have will help you get specific about exactly what type of person should be included in your study.
It is also important to think about the types of people you don’t want when recruiting participants for a research study. For example, if you are conducting a study on products people can use while working from a home office, then you do not want to include people who cannot work from home. For example, even if a maintenance technician would be willing to participate in your study, because their entire job requires them to be on-location, the information they provide won’t be useful, so they should not participate in your study.
Recruiting Participants for a Research Study in a Reliable and Unbiased Way
The creation of a screening process is essential to recruiting participants for a research study once you have determined the group of people you want to include. Creating a survey to screen out participants ensures the findings of your project are accurate and reliable, and it can also save you a love of time and money weeding through responses.
When creating a survey to screen out participants, keep things brief and ask the right questions. To filter out time wasters, you should not include leading questions that are easy to answer. Don’t mention the purpose of the research study and don’t mention the name of your company, product, or organization. That way participants cannot simply guess what you want to hear, compromising your findings so they can receive a reward. For example, instead of asking, “Do you own your home?” Provide a list of options for people to answer in response to the question, “What type of housing is your primary residence?”
It’s also a good idea to include at least one or two open-ended responses in preliminary surveys when recruiting participants for a research study. This enables you to identify expressive people who are willing to give thoughtful answers and weed out those who only provide one- or two-word answers. Keep your survey brief, and don’t ask questions that aren’t directly relevant to your research project. This will ensure respondents don’t lose interest before they have completed the form, and it ensures you’re being unbiased when recruiting participants for your research study.
Where to Find People to Participate in a Study
Actually recruiting participants for a research study is frequently cited as the most difficult and time consuming part of the entire process. You can make the search easier if you utilize multiple strategies for finding participants. One of the most effective is crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is one of the best ways to recruit a large number of people quickly because it enables you to use existing platforms Like Amazon Mechanical Turk, SurveyMonkey, and Prolific Academic to find participants. It can reduce your costs and management burden, and it allows you to gather a large pool of reliable and diverse data quickly. You can access views from all over the world, and by reaching out to a large group of people, you can create very precise screening surveys to get the most relevant participants.
Crowdsourcing is a great way to identify a potentially unexpected point of view to solve a specific problem, but by reaching out to so many people about a new research topic or product, you have also created market excitement without the costs of a full marketing proposal.
Although crowdsourcing can be an effective recruitment tool, you should also consider other methods of finding people to participate in your study. A few other methods for recruiting participants for a research study include:
- Reaching out to organizations, professionals, or other researchers for references
- Putting the word out on personal social media pages and group pages
- Asking for referrals from people who have participated in previous surveys
- Posting signs asking for participants in public places, like the library or a community center
Keeping Your Survey Participants Motivated
Once you have gathered the correct participants for your study, the next step is to think about how to keep them involved. Offering an incentive makes recruiting participants for a research study easy because it makes them feel valued, which provides them with the motivation to participate, as well as give thoughtful answers throughout the duration of your study.
Incentives can include discounts, gift cards, and freebies, but money is often the most convincing incentive. If you are going to offer a money incentive, it is recommended to use high profile payment platforms to create trust between yourself and your participants so they aren’t worried about whether or not they are being scammed. For example, most people already know and use PayPal, so they are likely to think your survey is legitimate if you use this platform to send payments.
You have to think about the demographics and details of the group of people you have recruited to participate in your study. For example, people who typically earn a high income will expect a higher reward, which means recruiting doctors for your study will cost more than recruiting the average consumer.
In addition, you also need to think about how long your study will last. A longer time requirement will involve a higher incentive to attract serious participation. It is especially important to consider higher incentives for multiple surveys that must be filled out over time, and if the participant has to show up in person multiple times. The higher the incentive, the more likely they are to provide their honest and detailed responses until the very end.
Sourcing Fresh, New Participants and Responses
It’s important to keep things new and fresh when recruiting participants for a research study when you have completed studies in the past and you plan on conducting additional studies in the future. Although it’s much easier to reach out to previous participants and ask them to participate in your latest research project, you will end up getting the same views expressed multiple times, which ultimately creates less reliable data over time. It’s much better to make sure the bulk of your participants are brand-new to ensure the data you have to analyze is fresh and diverse.
This may include finding new participants through the same channels you used last time, but it’s also a good idea to recruit new people in a different way. For example, if you used crowdsourcing when recruiting participants for a research study last time, try recruiting new people from various social media platforms this time. This ensures you recruit a diverse group of people for every survey you conduct.
You must also remember to keep your surveys fresh, especially if some or all of your respondents have filled out previous surveys for your organization. If the layout, appearance, and wording are all the same, respondents may breeze through the questions and respond more quickly than they would if it looked different.
If you’re asking the same question over and over again in your survey to determine the honesty of the respondent, it is especially important to keep each version of the question fresh. By asking the same question in different ways, respondents are more likely to answer honestly.
Recruiting participants for a research study doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems on the surface. Once you determine the scope and details of your project, it’s important to take your time throughout the recruitment process. If you follow these steps, finding the right participants who enable you to gather a diverse and reliable set of data is easier and less time consuming than you think.