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Institutional Review Board (IRB): Recruitment Materials

When do I need Recruitment Materials?

You are required to include recruitment material/s for your IRB application if you plan to conduct human subjects research.

If you are recruiting minors, be sure to utilize the appropriate templates for Parental Recruitment and Minor Recruitment.

If your study encompasses normal education activities in everyday educational settings, read more about Information Letters.

Introduction to Recruitment

Recruitment is how you inform your potential participants that you are conducting a study and give them an opportunity to indicate their interest in participating.

How can I recruit?

You will recruit your participants by creating recruitment materials and distributing them in a way that will reach your intended population. Here are some common recruitment methods:

  • Email. You can email individuals you already know, find public email addresses, or post to an email listserv.  If their email addresses are private, you should obtain contact permission from the organization or business (even if you work/volunteer there).
  • Social Media Post. You can post to your own social media feed or to a social media group. If the social media group is closed and/or moderated, you should obtain contact permission and include that permission in your IRB application.
  • Physical Flyer. You can post flyers in a physical location that your participants may frequent.
  • Phone Call. You can call individuals you already know or individuals whose phone numbers are publicly available. If their phone numbers are private, you should obtain contact permission from the organization or business (even if you work/volunteer there).
  • Presentation. You can present on your research during a staff meeting or similar type of context. If you are using an organization's resources for this presentation, you should obtain site permission and include that permission in your IRB application.

When can I distribute my recruitment materials?

You can distribute recruitment materials after you have received IRB approval. You may not recruit, seek consent, or collect data until after you have IRB approval.

How do I write recruitment materials if I have multiple participant groups?

If you have multiple participant groups, you will use separate recruitment materials for each group.

Get Feedback on your Recruitment Materials

Get feedback on your recruitment materials

The NU IRB recommends that you receive feedback on your recruitment materials before you submit your IRB application:

Using Canva to help with Social Media Posts

if you are designing a social media post, we suggest using Canva.

What Is Canva?

Canva is a free website that can assist researchers in creating flyers to recruit participants online. Canva offers a variety of templates and designs and can automatically size flyers for social media posts.

How Do I Create an Account?

To create an account in Canva, go to the Canva website and click one of the “sign up” buttons on the left side of the page. You can sign up through your Google account, through your Facebook account, or with an email address of your preference. Follow the prompts to create your account and login.

Homepage for Canva. An arrow points to where users can sign up for an accunt

How Do I Find Designs That Are Sized for Social Media?

After logging in to Canva, look for a search bar in the middle of the page. You can search for designs based on the social media site you are planning to post to. If you wanted to post to Facebook, for example, you could search for "Facebook" and then select "Facebook Post." Canva will then present you with templates that are sized specifically for a Facebook post.

A search for Facebook within Canva

How Do I Choose a Design Template?

Canva will provide many different designs that already contain text. You will be able to change, add, or remove text later on, so you should choose your design based on the image or design layout . For example, if you were doing an online survey on water consumption, then a design with a glass of water may be appropriate. If you can't find an image that relates to your research, choose a design with plain colors and shapes instead. You also want a design with enough empty space to provide information about your research and participant eligibility.

6 design options in Canva. The design with a glass of water is highlighted

How Do I Edit the Design to Meet My Needs?

Once you select a design, Canva will open up the design editor. Select a textbox to update the text or move the text to another location within the design. Selecting the textbox will also reveal a formatting bar at the top of the screen: here you can change font type, size, color, and alignment, among other options. If you need another textbox, click the "Text" icon in the black bar on the left. 

Design editor within Canva. Arrows are pointing to the text editor bar at the top and to the icon for additional textboxes on the left

In the following example, I have edited a design to meet my needs. In the image, a stream of water is flowing into a glass of water that is almost full. The glass of water is on a table that is covered with water droplets. The original text (as shown above) stated "Stay Hydrated. Your daily #lifetip." I have changed that text to read: "Take survey on daily water intake. " The word "survey" is the largest text in the image, to attract attention. I have also added an additional textbox with information about participant eligibility: "Must be 18+ and drink at least 1 cup of water daily." 

Because this image will appear along with text in a Facebook post, all of the IRB content requirements do not need to be included in the image (which would make the image look crowded and be less effective). I will need to include the rest of the requirements in the text of my Facebook post though (an example is provided at the end).

Image description is within text

How Do I Attach My Design within My IRB Application?

Please remember that you must receive IRB approval before you begin recruitment or distribute your design to any potential participants. You will need to include your design within your IRB application. To do so, you will download your design from Canva by clicking the downward-facing arrow near the right corner and then select the teal button that says "Download."

Please paste your design into a Microsoft Word document, along with the text that will accompany it (follow the template).