Research Skills Participant Recruitment The Recruitment Process. • Before trying to recruit participants you should: • Consider research from the point of view of the participants to eliminate potential risks or ethical problems. • Obtain the considered approval of external advisors whenever concluding that harm, unusual discomfort, or other negative consequences may follow from research. • You may have to complete a Risk Assessment form, or consult a previously prepared RA to familiarise yourself with the problems that might arise, and how to address them. • You should also consult a Standard Operating procedure (SOP) if one exists, this explains how to conduct the procedure you will be using. • You must have obtained ethical approval prior to recruitment. How Will You Recruit? • E-mails (e.g. University distribution lists – do you have access or authority?). • Via the web – e.g. Survey Monkey or School websites that outline recruitment opportunities, or specific websites (e.g. discussion boards). Issues of consent here! • Via posters or advertisements. • Via word of mouth – snowball technique. • Via friends and family – is this ethical? • Via personal recruitment – effective but scary! Ethics of emails • Below is an email recently sent around to PSS staff: • Subject: dissertation questionnaire • I would appreciate it very much of you could complete this questionnaire for me for my dissertation. If you could highlight your answers in a different colour and return it to this email I would be grateful. Thanks so much • What is wrong with this? Advertising for Participants. • The Ad should include: • Name and address of the research facility. The focus of the research. A summary of criteria for eligibility to participate. The time and other commitments that will be required. The date/time/location of the study and who to contact for further information. • The Ad should not: • Contain explicit or implicit claims that may not be substantiated. • Emphasize the amount of reimbursement that participants may receive. • Promise a favourable outcome or benefits. Parental Consent. If you are working with individuals aged <16 then you will need to obtain written consent from the parents/carers. Such research is normally conducted via schools/clubs etc and the Headteacher/organizer will also need to give their written permission for you to contact the parents. Even if the parents give their consent the children still need to give their ‘assent’ – i.e they have to agree to take part. This can be problematic if the parents want the children to take part and the children don’t, or vice versa! If the individuals are over 16 but still at School then you must still obtain written permission from the School, and inform the parents that the research is taking place. Out of courtesy you should still obtain written Parental consent. The parents may not give their approval, and so this again raises problems if the individual wants to take part. With small children great anguish can be caused by testing all of their friends and refusing to let them take part because their parents hav’n’t consented, or the child has forgotten to bring the letter back to school! Can you resolve this? Meeting For the First Time. • • • • • • Dress appropriately. Be able to provide identification about who you are and what you represent – name badge, headed information sheets etc. Explain to potential participants what your research is about and what participation might entail, they need to be given sufficient information to decide whether or not to proceed further. Refrain from emphasising financial or other inducements to persuade them to take part. Make sure that you reassure them that any information they provide will remain confidential . Reassure them (if possible) that they will not be asked to do anything embarrassing, stressful, or dangerous. The Information Sheet. • You must ensure that participants are given sufficient opportunity to understand the nature, purpose, and possible consequences of their research participation. • Ask participants about any factors that might lead to their harm and inform them of any actions they should take to minimise this. • Inform participants that they may decline to answer any questions. • Inform participants of their right to withdraw without prejudice. • Avoid intentional deception unless it is necessary to preserve the integrity of the research. • Write this using simple language and avoid jargon. The Consent Form. • You must obtain written, informed consent before you begin testing. • You should also provide a ‘cooling off’ period to enable the prospective participants to reconsider their involvement. In practice this is difficult! • The Consent Form should provide a checklist so that the individual can register that they understand what is being expected of them. • If they wish you to send them general feedback then give them space to leave their email or address. • There must be a space for the individual to sign and date the sheet (or someone who will consent for them), and a space for the researcher to sign and date. • Several signatures may be required depending upon the type of consent being sought. Consent (continued): • You must keep adequate records of when, how, and from whom, consent was obtained. • You should keep the consent forms separate from the data in a locked storage facility – you are bound by the Data Protection Act and may have to produce the sheets at a later date! • Ensure that where an individual cannot provide consent, then it should be obtained from others legally permitted to provide it (e.g. parents, doctors). • Take particular care when seeking informed consent from individuals who may be pressured to consent by their environment (work place, prison, school etc). • Restrict research based on observations to those situations in which individuals being studied would reasonably expect to be observed by strangers (unless they have consented). The Debrief. • You must fully debrief participants at the conclusion of their participation. • This should be verbal and written. • This is in order to inform them of the outcomes and nature of the research, and to provide them with contact details so that they can subsequently withdraw their data. • You should avoid discussing specific outcomes i.e results of questionnaires, tests etc, if pressed provide general statements. The Debrief Sheet. • • • • • • • • • This must provide: Details of the project and the investigator. The code number originally allocated to the participant. A summary of the aims and expected findings of your research. A reminder that the participant can withdraw their data. A reminder that individual feedback will not be provided. A reminder that the data will be kept confidential. Information on how the data may be disseminated. If deception has been used then this must be clearly stated, and why it was used in the first place. • Information as to how they can register a complaint if they feel that ethical guidelines have been broken. • It is often tempting to simply cut and paste from the information sheet – try to avoid this! Debrief Issues. • It is your obligation to inform participants when evidence is obtained of a psychological or physical problem of which they are apparently unaware. • You should exercise caution when responding to requests for advice from participants concerning psychological / physiological / emotional issues. Refer them to an appropriate group (i.e student counselling services, a GP). • Inform people when they might expect to receive general feedback of results – e.g. a set time from the finish of testing.