Recruitment Guidelines for Equity in Research

The Community Coalition for Equity in Research creates tools and materials to help address common issues identified during the study review process. These guidelines were developed by members of the community coalition and focus on best practices for accessible recruitment in research.

Why Does This Matter?

Recruitment for research studies must be conducted equitably to reach a representative sample of your study population, which provides the opportunity to capture authentic information from community members. This can lead to forming better decisions, especially regarding the health of the community. Equitable recruitment strategies further help cultivate bilateral trust. Researchers can connect with community members and community members are able to be part of the process.

Jean Dolin headshot.

“Ensuring equity throughout research – more specifically during recruitment, gives researchers the opportunity to meet communities needs and create access for all stakeholders to engage in a manner that is authentic and respectful.”

– Jean Dolin, Coalition Member

Build the Following Considerations into the Recruitment Process

  • Connect with trusted community members as a first step before formal recruitment begins. Give information on the project and what you are asking of potential participants.
  • Tailor your recruitment based on the advice community members give you. Reaching different populations may require different approaches.

Include the Following Practices to Increase Accessibility of Materials

  • Include enough information about the study that potential participants have a clear idea of what is being studied and asked of them.
  • Use plain language wherever possible. Try to have a middle school reading level. You can use readability software to analyze the writing. See list of resources in the section below.
  • Use simple numbers rather than statistics whenever possible. For example, instead of using ‘5% of users’, use ‘5 out of 100 people.
  • Have a clear design. Consider visual aids, breaking information into separate sections on the materials, using bold or italics to highlight key information, and read for redundancy.
  • Provide appropriate compensation for participants. Consider the time that people are contributing to your study and ensure it is issued promptly.
  • Materials should be available in multiple languages, especially languages that reflect the populations with whom you are working. Use community-based services. Access vetted list here (Excel document). 

Resources for Using Plain Language

Below are some sites where you can learn more about how to use plain language in your materials and where you can test some of your materials for language literacy.

Other Resources

Review Your Study With Us

The Community Coalition for Equity in Research serves as a free resource for high-quality community input on research proposals and protocols, as well as a trusted communication channel between researchers and community stakeholders.

Please email community@catalyst.harvard.edu if you are interested in having your research study reviewed by our coalition members.

View PDF of the above information.