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Case Study - using Call for Participants as a researcher

25 November 2015

Conducting a research study with human participants is a long process full of challenges and successes. At Call for Participants, we try to understand these to see where and how we can help. Last week we caught up with Dr Ian A Clark, a postdoctoral research associate from University College London to see how he used Call for Participants to solve some of the recruitment issues for the project he is involved in - MEMO.

MEMO is a Multifaceted Examination of Memory and its Origins. In essence, MEMO is one of the most detailed investigations of memory ever undertaken.

Find out more about MEMO on their homepage.

Peek into the researcher's experience

How is everything going at MEMO currently?

The MEMO study is still in the recruitment, testing and data collection phase. The aim of the study is to conduct one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies into human memory ever undertaken. As such we are aiming to recruit over 200 participants, all of who undergo a set of cognitive tests and brain scans (split over multiple sessions on different days). Currently, we are about 1/3 of the way through data collection.

What made you advertise your research study on Call For Participants and how did you hear about us?

I heard of the Call For Participants website through another researcher. As MEMO is trying to recruit a large number of participants, we thought Call For Participants might be another possible recruitment source. I didn’t know of anyone that had had experience using the site so it was a bit of an unknown that we thought we’d try. I’m glad we did – it helped widen the recruitment base that we have been able to study. We were delighted with the attention that the study has received.
  • Participants recruited


    Total number of participants wishing to take part through Call for Participants platform

  • Above average completion rate for people recruited through Call for Participants


    12.2% full completion rate for participants recruited through Call for Participants versus 9.7% completion rate for participants recruited through all channels including Call for Participants.

What kind of recruitment results did you get from Call for Participants and how did these compare with your other recruitment efforts?

In terms of the numbers; of the people who completed our Expression of Interest form, 188 individuals reported that they found out about the study via Call For Participants. Of these 188 individuals, 43 reported Call For Participants as their point of contact for finding out about the study and 145 reported the website “Reddit”, specifically the London sub-Reddit, which Call For Participants had placed the advert on.

From these 188 individuals, 28 (14.9%) took part in the study. 23 of the 28 completed the full study (82.1% of those recruited; 12.2% of those who completed the expression of interest form). We were unable to get in contact with 50 (26.5%) and 110 (59.5%) were screened and unable to take part due to meeting one or more of our exclusion criteria.

These numbers are similar to our recruitment across the board – 14.5% of individuals who have completed the expression of interest form have been eligible to take part and 9.7% have completed the study.

Your recruitment page on Call for Participants has been seen by approximately 3500 people. What has been the outcome of your study being exposed to so many members of the public?

Positive. Recruitment is always a challenge in large research studies, and being exposed to so many individuals has helped this study to hit the ground running and has provided the solid base that we are now working with. We didn’t expect the number of responses we received when the advert first went out, so it was a pleasant surprise to see so much interest. While the continued exposure on the site is great and continues to bring in potential participants, most seemed to contact when it first went live and particularly on Reddit.

How was your overall experience using Call For Participants?

We have had a very positive experience of using Call For Participants. The set-up of the advert page was easy and allowed us to customise the page for the study (including the inclusion/exclusion criteria, information about the study and so forth). It was also good to be able to locate the study to London to help focus recruitment. After filling in the advert page we were then happy for Call For Participants to advertise MEMO through its multiple channels, which it did so with success. Apart from setting up the page, active recruitment was left to Call For Participants, which was great as it allowed us to focus upon dealing directly with interested individuals.

Would you recommend Call For Participants to other researchers for getting exposure and/or recruiting participants?

Yes, Call For Participants has been useful for us to bring in large numbers of potential participants. A lot of whom don’t normally or hadn’t taken part in studies before. It was an easy process to initiate, and has been excellent for our recruitment.

Does your university currently help you advertise your research studies? Would you like for it to provide more resources and services to help researchers like yourself promote research and recruit participants?

Yes, advertisements on departmental websites encourage potential participants to sign up to various mailing lists at UCL. This normally works well for smaller studies. With larger studies like MEMO however (which is recruiting over 200 participants), we need to go beyond our normal recruitment channels, which is why we looked further afield.

Are you planning to submit your findings to any conferences or journals in the near future?

Recruitment and testing is still ongoing for MEMO and will be for the foreseeable future (we’re about 1/3 of the way through data collection). We plan to submit our eventual findings to conferences and journals, but we expect this to take another few years when we have fully collected all the data and been able to carefully analyse and interpret the results.

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