Research Continuity

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  • 1.  Tips for recruitment (COVID-19 related online studies)?

    Posted 03-31-2020 02:24
    Hi Everyone,

    I hope you are all staying safe and healthy.  I am working on two online studies that assess psychosocial changes associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, and I would be grateful to get any tips or suggestions on recruitment.  Here are the two studies:

    1st study: College/university students in the U.S.
    I am running an online study on U.S. college/university students' experience with the COVID-19 outbreak and transition to remote instruction (mostly pertaining to psychosocial and academic adjustment).  The study involves a baseline survey and then up to weekly follow-up surveys through early May.

    The study does use subject pool credit at my institution and snowball sampling, but does not currently have compensation for non-subject pool participants -- so I'm mainly targeting students who want to volunteer/contribute their time and data to science.  (Study cover letter URL:  Recruitment is fair but needs to be accelerated in order to capture more data while students are still adjusting to remote instruction.

    2nd study: Family adjustment (U.S.)
    I am still in the process of planning this online survey study, but the study is intended to capture family/parental adjustment to the stay-at-home orders. I would like to do a baseline survey and then up to two follow-ups (with the last follow-up at one year).  

    I have about $1k that I could use for incentives, but no other funding that could be applied to these studies for now.  I had considered maybe using Amazon's mechanical turk for the 2nd study, but one of my colleagues struggled to get usable data through mTurk.  

    Any suggestions on recruitment would be greatly appreciated, including how to best disseminate my 1st study, where to recruit potential participants (U.S. parents) for the 2nd study, and/or how to best use potential incentives. 

    Thanks so much,

    Yuko Okado
    California State University, Fullerton

  • 2.  RE: Tips for recruitment (COVID-19 related online studies)?

    Posted 04-01-2020 15:29
    Hello (fellow Titan),

    Before the COVID-19 outbreak, I was already planning a fully online study of adolescent's school and online experiences. It has become increasingly challenging to get schools on board for school-based studies so I was treating this as a pilot-type study to explore the feasibility of an online study with minors. My plan (waiting on IRB amendment as I am now also incorporating COVID-19 impact related questions) is to run Facebook and IG ads that will take teens to the Qualtrics page for consent and survey completion. I am, however, offering an $8 gift card incentive for each completed survey (and am anticipating a cost of roughly $400 - $1200 for the FB ads). A challenge for your study, the second study in particular, is being to offer an incentive that encourages folks to complete your survey. Something we've done in previous studies to encourage parents to complete their survey or to complete the parent consent that has worked well is stating that if they compete they survey they will be entered into a drawing with the opportunity to win a gift card. Currently, families might be willing to complete a brief survey for the opportunity to win a $100 grocery store or Amazon gift card, for example (you could maybe offer 5 of those and that only uses half of your budget; you did not note the target size of your study so that would likely influence the number you want to go with in terms of gift cards). If you have not yet done so, you can also create a lab or study Facebook page for free that advertises your study -- you can boost posts, etc. via their settings and get some exposure that way too. I created one for my study just to have a page to post the ads from and actually received a few messages from folks who were interested in learning more about completing the survey.

    There are some great studies that I've read that explain some of the challenges and opportunities related to online recruitment and survey completion. I am providing the citations for a few of those below (these are focused on adolescent research so you'll likely find, or have already found, more relevant work focused on parent research).

    Amon, K. L., Campbell, A. J., Hawke, C., & Steinbeck, K. (2014). Facebook as a recruitment tool for adolescent health research: A Systematic Review. Academic Pediatrics, 14(5).

    King, D. B., O'Rourke, N., & DeLongis, A. (2014). Social media recruitment and online data collection: A beginner's guide and best practices for accessing low-prevalence and hard-to-reach populations. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 55(4), 240–249. doi:10.1037/a0038087

    McInroy, L. B. (2016). Pitfalls, potentials, and ethics of online survey research: LGBTQ and other marginalized and hard-to-access youths. Social Research Work, 40(2), 83-93.

    Guadalupe Espinoza
    Fullerton CA

  • 3.  RE: Tips for recruitment (COVID-19 related online studies)?

    Posted 04-02-2020 11:30

    Hi Yuko,

    Lupita has some great suggestions (including ones that I need to explore!) 

    I'll add one more to the mix. Regarding study #2, once you've gotten permission to conduct your study, please feel free to add it to the relevant google form for child development and parenting research opportunities. It's not fancy, but it's a way to share research options with the broader community:

    Online Child Development Research Opportunities

    Form for researchers to sign up:
    Spreadsheet to share with parents to have their children participate in studies:
    Online Parenting Research Opportunities

    Form for researchers to sign up:
    Spreadsheet to share with parents to sign up in studies themselves:

    Candice Mills
    The University of Texas at Dallas
    Twitter: @CandiceMMills

  • 4.  RE: Tips for recruitment (COVID-19 related online studies)?

    Posted 04-03-2020 11:25
    Dear Yuko,

    An alternative to paying participants is finding ways to make engagement meaningful to them. Think about why somebody might be willing to do an online survey. I mean, people do these All. The. Time. for free. Can you adjust your design or find a way of offering meaningful feedback that will make people find participation intrinsically rewarding?

    Also, you get better data this way.

    Joshua K Hartshorne
    Assistant Professor
    Boston College

    Josh Hartshorne
    Boston College
    Chestnut Hill MA

  • 5.  RE: Tips for recruitment (COVID-19 related online studies)?

    Posted 04-04-2020 01:25
    Edited by Yuko Okado 04-04-2020 01:26
    Thanks everyone for your replies -- I had previously responded to Lupita and Candice without knowing that my replies were hidden from this thread!  Don't mean to look like I went radio silent on such helpful suggestions.

    And Josh, thank you very much for your suggestion.  I had discussed with a colleague about maybe using feedback ('self-quiz' style) to recruit participants, and I am yet to try to figure out whether there are reasonably easy ways to set this up on Qualtrics -- so thank you for the push.  I will also think about the design and see if there are other ways to make participation meaningful or intrinsically rewarding.

    Thanks again to all -- very grateful for your thoughtful replies,

    Yuko Okado
    California State University, Fullerton