top of page

The Art and Science of Finding Research Participants

Embarking on a research journey is like setting sail on uncharted waters. You've charted your course, mapped out your strategy, and are eager to delve into the depths of knowledge. However, there's a crucial step before the voyage truly begins—the quest for the unsung heroes of your research project: the participants.

surrounded by books

Defining the Cast:

In the intricate theater of research, every participant is a crucial actor contributing to the narrative. The first act involves creating a Recruitment Brief—a masterful document that outlines the who, what, and where of your recruitment strategy. Here, you define your sample, set logistical details, and determine the incentive that will beckon your participants to the stage.

Selecting the Stars:

Once the curtain rises, the challenge is to find the right people for your research endeavor. This involves evaluating candidates against the Recruitment Brief and utilizing a powerful tool known as the Screener—a set of questions designed to identify the individuals who perfectly fit the roles you've envisioned.

Methods of Casting:

Choosing the method for casting your participants is an art in itself. Consider recruitment agencies as the seasoned directors who can bring A-list talent to your project. Alternatively, embrace guerrilla tactics for a more spontaneous and dynamic approach. While DIY casting might seem tempting, remember that your time is a valuable resource, and professional recruiters often provide more cost-effective solutions. Additionally, gatekeepers within your organization can be the key to unlocking a treasure trove of potential participants.

The Persuasive Prelude:

In the grand production of research, persuasion is the overture. While some participants may join out of genuine interest, most require a well-crafted incentive. Design your pitch to resonate with their motivations, making them eager participants in the unfolding research drama.


Scheduling the Spectacle:

With your cast assembled, it's time to choreograph the scenes. Whether your research is an impromptu street performance or a carefully orchestrated laboratory experiment, arranging sessions requires precision and foresight. Secure your slots in the grand theater of homes, offices, or labs, and let the research spectacle commence.

Ethical Illumination:

As the research conductor, you bear the ethical torch. Before the participants take the stage, ensure they are bathed in the light of informed consent. It's not just a legal formality; it's a commitment to transparency, respect, and the ethical foundations that underpin all meaningful research.


Finding participants is more than just assembling a cast; it's about curating a collective of diverse voices that will enrich your research narrative. From defining your sample to orchestrating the sessions, each step is a brushstroke contributing to the masterpiece that is your research project. So, let the quest for participants be an adventure, a journey that unveils the hidden heroes ready to make your research truly extraordinary.

Source: Lang, J., & Howell, E. (2017). Researching UX: user research. SitePoint Pty Ltd.


bottom of page