Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dissertation tips: Finding Participants for Research Interviews

A Doctoral Research brings many different challenges, and although this might come as a surprise, one of them is to find participants to take place in interviews and focus groups. This job can become even more difficult when a group with specific demographic and behavioral characteristics needs to be formed for the research, so it's not just about finding people, you have to find the right people. Even though this is not an easy task, there are a number of ways to find participants. For better results, it's interesting to mix distinct approaches to attract different people and make sure you reach the final number needed. Here are a few ways to find participants for doctoral research interviews

1. University's Alumni Directory

The university itself may be the best place to get participants. Not only are current students available, but there are numerous people that can be reached using the Alumni's Directory. These people studied in that same university, so usually there is a sense of helping researches who are still there, allowing them to achieve great things that will look good for the university as well. This is also a way to attract people with a strong academic background, which can be useful for many specific researches.

2. Face-to-Face

It's possible to contact different teachers in your own university or even in other ones, and ask for a few minutes when they teach a class for a group of people you are interested in. A small face-to-face introduction can work wonders to get people to participate. Take a moment to introduce yourself, your research and its goals and objectives, and then ask for the students' support to help you achieve those goals. Keep it simple and just pass along a sheet where people can sign up, adding their names and email addresses. It's much harder to say no to an actual person than to ignore a faceless email.

3. Specialized Websites

Because this is such an important issue, specialized websites are becoming more common and popular in order to help researchers in the process of finding participants. They are usually platforms designed to be a place where researchers and participants meet, like the one created by students from The University of Nottingham (

These sites can provide advantages for everyone, since participants can look for studies that match their specific profile, or that offer any kind of reward for their time, and researchers can have access to a pool of pre-screened participants, using different demographic filters.Both can benefit from a completely secure environment where people can communicate, share and contribute to many researches in a quick, easy and practical manner.

4. Finding Potential Participants via Linkedin

Being a professional social network, Linkedin can also be considered an interesting option when it comes to recruiting participants. A researcher can browse through the profiles in order to find people working in different areas, having access to their professional experience and academic background. That way, it's easy to find the participants according to each research's specific needs.

5. Using Social Networks

Other than Linkedin, other social networks can also be used in the process, such as Twitters bio, and even Facebook. It's possible to look for the people that have the specific interests and characteristics a given research needs, taking advantage of the fact that most people are connected to these networks pretty much all the time.

Interviews and Analysis

After actually finding the right participants and conducting the interviews, it's necessary to keep other important information in mind for the success of the research. The interviews or focus groups must be clearly recorded in order to make sure all the essential information will be available later. Other than recording, it's always recommended to use a professional transcription service to transcribe all the audio information that was collected. Transcripts are easier to store than audio files, and provide a better way to analyze all the important data, rather than going back and forth hearing different parts of audio. Official transcripts must also be available for the doctoral supervisor's analysis and will usually be archived along with the complete work, so make sure to choose a reputable company that can transcribe all the audio recordings in a professional, fast, safe and confidential way.


There are certainly many difficulties involved in the process of doing a doctoral research, and finding participants is known to be one of them. However, with technology and recent developments, this process is becoming easier, as each day there are more options available to recruit the right people you need for your research.

Other Suggested Readings and Useful Links:
1. Academic transcription services for students and academicians by
2. Important reasons why you should outsource transcription services.
3. Read all previous articles posted by at AllTranscript's Blog.
4. Transcribe conferences and seminars into text at affordable rates.
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