Many types of research depend on the voluntary, informed participation of willing individuals whom researchers must actively recruit. Sometimes, researchers struggle to get the number of participants they need for sufficient statistical power to run their analyses. Researchers can overcome the struggle to recruit participants by using the following key recruiting strategies.
Researchers should always remember that the most effective strategy to recruit research participants is to anticipate potential recruiting barriers by knowing their population of interest and to be as flexible, patient, and persistent as they possibly can. For example, if a researcher knows that his or her will be studying working mothers who have hectic schedules, then the researcher could offer multiple locations for research participation (if applicable) and could send simple informational emails to remind participants about the upcoming research. Potential research participants tend to respond better to recruiting efforts if they are able to connect a human name and face to researchers, which helps participants understand that researchers are real people with real emotions and not just mechanical scientists without any capacity for empathy.
Other effective strategies for recruiting research participants include offering incentives and soliciting organizational support. For example, if a researcher is trying to solicit potential participants from a sample of patients at a health clinic, then the researcher could solicit the support of the clinic by asking clinic employees to enter the information of patients who agree to participant in the research into a drawing for gift cards, which the researcher would fund as part of the research expense. Offering incentives and soliciting organizational support remunerates the research for everyone involved.
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