13 Ways to Recruit Study Participants Online 

Ask any PhD student who requires participants for their research and no doubt one of their main challenges will be recruitment. Over the years I’ve had a number of experiences with recruitment and I have faced multiple issues, particularly when recruiting from a population such as young carers.

This post won’t go into all the difficulties and considerations that need to be made when recruiting, I have another post coming up about approaches and questions to ask yourself when you start looking for people to take part in your research. Instead this post is going to provide 13 ways that you can recruit for your study online (but not necessarily just for online studies !) in the hope that it might be able to reduce your recruitment woes.

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When Anxiety comes knocking…

I know I’m not the only one that struggles with anxiety, in life in general and when it comes to doing a PhD. Though not many of us share the realities of going about daily life feeling worried, concerned or like our hearts might jump out of our chest. Sometimes knowing exactly why, other times not having a clue, just knowing there is this sense of impending doom that you just can’t quite put your finger on.

First of all, the anxiety I am personally talking about here is that feeling of worry, bordering on panic, feeling sped up and like there isn’t enough time to do everything. Shallow breathing, heart pounding just a little quicker and perhaps feeling unusually warm. A brick in your chest, a lump in your throat and your stomach doing somersaults. The anxiety where your mind spirals and decides to show you the low-lights reel. The what if’s and the worst case scenarios. Perhaps you can relate? With practice, these feeling states can be noticed, before you fall too far down the rabbit hole. And the point of noticing, the point of awareness is really the beginning of getting to the bottom of things.

I thought I’d share some of my go-to’s for when I’m feeling anxious.

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Review: ‘The Science of Stress’ at The Royal Institution

A couple of weeks ago I attended an event at The Royal Institution in London called ‘The Science of Stress’. I probably wouldn’t have ventured to London mid-week if it hadn’t been for the fact that my supervisor Professor Julie Turner-Cobb was amongst the three experts presenting and then providing a question and answer panel session. It was great to support her and to see other individuals in the field present their work, and I was really glad that I went.

As someone who quite likes a bit of event management and organising an event, I was thinking on the train back to Bath, what makes a good panel event? Or any event for that matter? It really was a fantastic evening and I came away feeling enthused, excited, curious and impressed by all that I had heard. It was worth the journey to London and back.

So, what was it about this event that was so inspiring and excellent?

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Stress – friend or foe?

Those who know me will most likely know that my PhD research is focussed on studying a factor called stress. Something that we have probably all had a taste of. But when we talk about stress we are often referring to a psychological state and rarely are the physiological aspects of stress considered. Many people have heard of the fight or flight (and more recently considered, fright/freeze) response, and when provided with the classic saber tooth tiger analogy they can somewhat appreciate the possible benefits of stress. In that situation it is quite simply survival. But at what point does stress become too much? At what point does stress go from friend, to foe?

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How do you cope?

“How are you coping?” we might ask a friend.

What do we really mean when we ask this? Do we want to know how they are doing, or do we really want to know how they are coping? Perhaps in a friendship, it is the former. But in my research, I am asking the question literally, that is, what things are you actually doing to cope with the situation you are facing? Coping is a bit of an ambiguous term, and it’s not always easy to know how it is being used.

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What IS Health Psychology?

The golden question! Friend, family member, stranger or academic in another department – when you tell someone you study Health Psychology, you’ll often be met with:

  • *blank stare*
  • “What’s that then?”
  • “Wait, are you reading my mind?”
  • “I better be careful what I say now…”
  • “Do you help people with Schizophrenia?”

Most of those are pretty well worn responses so they are easy to handle. And I completely understand people’s confusion. Truth be told, even I find it hard to tell people what Health Psychology is, and I’m studying it! After the initial “yes, actually I can read your mind, and you should not be thinking that…” I usually explain the discipline along the lines of “looking at behaviour and how psychology can affect physical health”. But that isn’t really cutting it anymore. So, here is a brief overview of Health Psychology.

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