Five Tips For Recruiting More Participants For Your Research

13 January 2021

Recruiting participants for research studies is challenging. It is estimated that more than 34% of research studies recruit below 75% of their planned sample size. Studies reporting a larger number of participants often report low participation rates, with only 3-20% of eligible participants decide to participate in research.

In this blog post, we summarise five top tips to recruit more participants for your research project. 

Tip #1 Keep it simple and flexible

Logistical issues are one of the main reasons why potential participants declined to participate in research. Research studies requiring greater time and commitment might be less appealing for participants. Keep the study design as simple as possible. Simplify the research registration process as much as possible. A one-step registration process is more appealing than completing multiple registration forms. Additionally, research project details should be written in layman language. Complicated information and instructions can potentially deter people from participating. 

However, it is acknowledged that it can be difficult to balance between designing a more appealing research study and ensuring that the study is scientifically robust. Higher level of evidence studies, including clinical trials, typically require more time commitment. If it is not possible to reduce the time commitment of your study, consider increasing the flexibility of appointment times. Offer appointment times in the evenings and weekends. If possible, conduct the research at a location that is more convenient for them or reimburse for their travel. Being more flexible encourages more participants to participate in your research.

Tip #2 Collaborate

Collaborating with external organisations or other individuals with relevant expertise can be a useful recruitment strategy. Reach out to local community organisations that your target participants typically access. Get their input on your research protocol and recruitment plan. Active community engagement in any research project is a useful strategy for recruiting participants. Besides promoting a better exchange of ideas, collaborating with other organisations can be beneficial to expand your pool of participants. Potential participants may be more inclined to participate if the research advertisement comes from an organisation they are familiar with. 

Apart from collaborating with other external organisations, consider reaching out to other departments in your university. University students are often recruited as study participants. Some courses such as psychology may be encouraged to participate in research as a strategy to build their research skills. However, there might be ethical issues with recruiting participants in universities due to potential coercion. When recruiting participants from universities, it is essential to be clear that their participation is voluntary and their relationship with the university will not be affected. 

Tip #3 Recruit via social media channels

According to the latest statistics, there are over 4.13 billion internet users worldwide and more than half of the world population uses social media. Given the large social media audience, many researchers are increasingly embedding social media in their research recruitment strategy. Post your recruitment materials on various social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have sufficient budget, there is an option to recruit via paid advertising to boost your participant recruitment. For those with a limited budget, you could try advertising and recruit research participants via online forums or relevant Facebook groups.

Tip #4 Keep your participants engaged

Research altruism is one of the main factors influencing research participation. Most people want to participate in research because they believe that the project will benefit the larger community or they care about the research topic. It is important to keep your participants engaged by sending them regular updates about the research project. Keep in touch with participants, including those who completed the screening process but were not eligible. Send them a message to show your appreciation for their time and inform them that you will keep them updated on future research studies. This generates a positive experience, which could encourage them to register for future research studies.

Tip #5 RecruitKoala

As an academic researcher, you probably spend a great deal of time, energy and money on recruiting participants. RecruitKoala can help you find participants in days, rather than weeks or months – making your research more efficient, your participants happier, and your budget lower. More importantly, it allows you to focus more on your research and less on participant recruiting.

RecruitKoala is a free, easy-to-use tool built specifically for academics. RecruitKoala makes it easy to find participants for research studies, built by academics, specifically for academics. Our platform is designed with the researcher in mind and utilises a suite of tools to help make recruiting and managing research participants effortless. Through a single intuitive platform, you can find, recruit, and manage participants for your research studies.