How to Recruit More Research Participants…

person doing a research study with VR
PRince kouassi

If you’ve ever been tasked with recruiting participants for a research study, it’s likely that you’ve come across one particular problem: how to incentivise participants. One thing we can both agree on is that the incentives you give participants, greatly affects how many participants will ultimately take part in your research study.

One thing We’ve noticed since launching WeParticipated (a free participant recruitment mobile app), is the frequent omission of incentives if money is not offered. What I mean by this is that if researchers are not offering cash, a voucher or another monetary incentive to participants for taking part in their study, many say absolutely nothing. This is a bad habit.

The truth is, not all incentives have to be monetary ones. Not all participants take part in research for money. You don’t have to look far to think of non-monetary incentives for taking part in your research.

You think your research is cool, right? Is something specific about the topic really interesting? Are you motivated to do the research because of the positive impact it can have on society? Research participants can relate to this and it can at times be as strong an incentive for taking part in your research as money. For some participants, it’s a better incentive than money!

7 Ways to Recruit Even More Research Participants

So, if you’re recruiting research participants and don’t have funds to give them a monetary incentive, consider mentioning these points when saying what participants get from taking part in your study:

💡 They’ll learn something new,

💡 Their participation will help advance our understanding of a particular area,

💡 Their participation will help develop something that will have a real impact,

💡 They’ll be able to get a free souvenir, e.g. an MRI screenshot of their brain,

💡 They’ll be able to try out a cool piece of tech,

💡 They’ll be able to experience what science-in-action really looks like, or maybe

💡 Their participation will help you complete data collection and you’ll be eternally grateful!

Giving participants a reason to take part in your study, as oppose to saying nothing, will significantly increase interest in your study and how many people actually sign up.

Below is a screenshot I took of a research study that was advertised on WeParticipated recently. What the researcher wrote under the Rewards section (the place that says what participants get for taking part), is a simple and effective example of offering participants a non-monetary incentive. Check it out above.