It is important to recognize that participant recruitment to serve as research subjects is NOT "advertisement." The research study essentially starts at the point where the participant decides to enroll. Therefore, it is crucial that the recruitment device used to communicate with the participant provides just enough information about the research and not sound like marketing. The participants may be recruited through social media, posting fliers, word of mouth, via email, via telephone, etc. But it is crucial that the same basic idea behind ethical recruitment of participants is followed regardless of the mode of correspondence. The IRB needs to be clearly briefed on how the researchers plan to conduct their recruitment with proper scripts.
MTSU IRB encourages the researchers to initially complete the informed consent script before the recruitment device is developed. The informed consent is not a document but an important conversation between the researcher and the volunteer. Therefore, participant recruitment is a preview of the research with disclosure of important research-related information that participants need to know before they can make a decision. Therefore, it is strictly an abbreviated precursor of the informed consent. The IRB also encourages the researchers to use the recruitment template shown in the FORMS section to develop the recruitment tool regardless they plan to post fliers or not. The following information must be shown in the recruitment unless any exceptions are permitted by the IRB.
- The recruitment tool must specifically state, preferably in a larger font, that the researchers seek volunteers for a research study.
- Study title and other IRB details, such as the date of expiration.
- Beaware that providing personal cell phone numbers or personal email IDs on a flyer or other "free for all" recruitment tool would compromise your confidentiality and privacy. MTSU advices its students to use MTSU telephone numbers and email IDs if possible.
- Contact information for the PI (and the faculty advisor if the PI is a student).
- Study description to clearly explain what will be required of the participants
- Target population - elaborate on the inclusion/exclusion criteria on what the researchers are looking in an ideal participant. This way, the participants not eligible for the study can be screened and they would not unnecessarily waste their time.
- Additional information - any compensation to be provided for participation, potential risks, specific disclosures of the study that the participant needs to know, additional materials or documents that the participants need to bring or any information that they must be aware of.
Although all of these elements are mandatory to qualify for an IRB-approved recruitment tool, the MTSU IRB also recognizes that certain types of research may not be conducted if the recruitment requirement is followed as described above. For instance, research projects done over the telephone to conduct research with minimal risk such as polling, or studies that involve in person simple questions to assess or evaluate products without registering participant data. In cases similar to the ones mentioned above, it is practically impossible to conduct recruitment with all the above conditions. The researchers are recommended to provide a paper recruitment tool for reference, but will be allowed on request to communicate verbally with the most essential information of the propsed study. Therefore, the approval of the recruitment tool is reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of the recruitment method, the researchers have to clearly describe the mode of recruitment with a correspondence script that accurate descibes the one to be used in the actual study.