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Ethical Considerations When Inviting Participants to a Research Study

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Inviting people to become participants of your study is no small feat. Unless there’s monetary compensation, very few will take a good long look at what you are proposing. However, money is not the only thing that matters when you want to get 500 participants for your study. In fact, legally, money should be the last thing on your list. What matters are these: Did the participants know about the study’s topic? Are they aware of what they have to go through for it? Do they know where you’re going to use the results of the study?

It is so much better if you can tap a market research company that can provide a group of participants for your study. Researchers found that it’s difficult to invite people suffering from diseases such as lung cancer for their studies. This makes it almost impossible for them to conclude their research. Thankfully, researchers can now find respondents through companies that provide an NSCLC survey panelists. The participants in this panel have already been vetted as eligible and qualified.

But even by tapping market research firms, researchers still have to do their utmost to explain to the participants what they are getting into. There are a lot of ethical considerations one needs to make to comply with the law and to produce the most accurate results from the study or experiment. These considerations are at the core of every research in the world. Forget about these, and you might as well scratch the study altogether.


Researchers must respect the privacy of the participants. For example, a simple email or voice message may “out” them to others who didn’t know about their disease yet. Make sure to reach out to your participants in a way that wouldn’t intrude into their privacy. If you are going to message them, do it in a secure line. Do not visit them at work or at home. There should be a predetermined time for your meetings.

Undue Influence

Participation in any study must be voluntary. When you are inviting participants, you shouldn’t pressure them to say yes. You should give them enough time and the ability to freely consider if they want to be a part of the study or not. Sometimes, researchers tend to push participants to agree to the study either by having someone with authority reach out to them or by offering them incentives with a deadline.

Clear Information

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Make sure you are clearly informing the participants of the details of the study—number of visits needed from them, expected time commitment, eligibility criteria, and many more. So, how are you presenting this kind of information? Participants will not understand technical and scientific jargon. Stay away from those and any other detail that will be confusing for them.

Unbiased Presentation

Researchers tend to present their studies in a way that is beneficial for them. The ethical way of informing participants about your study is to give a balanced representation of it. Your pitch should be free from the misleading emphasis that will make participants think joining it will benefit them. Attractive words and phrases such as freebies, new and improved, and guarantee shouldn’t be used when presenting the study to potential participants.

Therapeutic Promises

If your field is medical science, avoid overstating the benefits that they will get from joining it. Most patients, for example, think that they will get treated when they join a medical experiment. This isn’t always the case with medical research. The pitch and recruitment method should be free from ambiguous statements that will make the participants think they are getting treatments for free.

While you can use the words “patient,” it is better to use “research subject” instead. With the term “treatment,” a better alternative is to use the true essence of the research, which is “experiment.” Even if you are already in the last stages of trying out a particular medicine—and even if it looks promising—you should avoid misconceptions about what the research can do for the participants. Remember that they are helping conclude the study. You are not helping them become healthier per se.

Research studies should be based on facts. That’s how you should be inviting participants to join your studies, too. Don’t ever make them think that they’re getting more than what you need from them. The truth is that research is reliant only on the reliability of your participants. If they are influenced by anything other than accuracy, your research will not be as effective and precise.

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