Finding the Perfect Research Participants

find research participants

Developing the Model

In order to find research participants, it is important that you develop a clear picture of what you want to get out of the research and what type of population you are addressing with the research results. Coming up with a list of clarifying questions would be helpful both to you and potential participants. Defining attributes such as race, age, education, and employment can help narrow the search. Research specific elements such as life experience, military service, trauma, certain illnesses or injuries and parental style will ensure you pinpoint the people that would most benefit your research.

Once these questions have been decided, it is time for the next step: publishing the announcement which will actually find research participants. Whether you want to work with participants from your field or with market research participants, reaching the intended target audience is important.

Find Research Participants – Places to Look

One of the first places where people find research participants is in colleges and universities. Undergraduate students are often more than willing to participate in research so posting research notices in schools, alerting professors you are looking for participants, or asking the student council to announce your request are all viable options. Another option is to reach out to people in the specific community you are addressing. For example, if you want to study the sleep habits of online gamers, posting in a gaming forum would be the best way to reach your target population. One other way to find participants is asking your colleagues, friends and family if they know anyone who would be interested in the research project.

An up-and-coming option is to publish your surveys and questionnaires online where market research participants are sure to find it. These market research participants are paid to take part in this type of project and will often do so for less than a dollar. If your budget allows it, market research participants are an easy way to reach a larger target audience. Especially over the past year, market research participants have been a valuable tool in the world of research due to the far-reaching abilities of the Internet.


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Find Research Participants – Review and Interview

Now that the tedious part of searching is over, it is time for you to start looking through the applications and deciding who among them qualifies for the research project. This is where the defining qualities talked about in the beginning of the article really come in handy. Even in a larger study, there will be many applicants who do not qualify for one reason or another and it is important to have a defining structure of who to accept. In-person interviews may not be feasible but talking to the person on the phone before accepting or rejecting an application is equally important.

In some ways, this is the step that defines the quality and outcome of your research so take time and review the applications thoroughly. Do not rush through the interview process no matter how eager you may be to begin your research.

Find Research Participants – Making the Choice

Once all the interviews are conducted it is time for you to make your choice. Sorting through the results may be the most exciting part of the process and calling each applicant to let them know you want them to be part of your research will be exciting and rewarding for both you and them. This is the moment when you gather your team together and begin to explore all of the research questions. Take a moment and savor it before diving into the work you have set out for yourself.


The search to find research participants is often frustrating and may feel like searching for a needle (or a handful of needles) in a haystack. However, with the right tools it is not that difficult to find research participants that fit your research needs. You need to know exactly what you are looking for, and the best places to find those people. Once those questions are answered, all you need to do is create an appealing advertisement and post it to your chosen locations, then wait for the applications to come pouring in.