Recruit Participants

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The IRB requires a description of the following regarding participant recruitment:

  1. the source of subjects for all study groups (intervention/case and control);
  2. when, where, how, and by whom these potential subjects will be recruited;
  3. the methods employed to identify potential subjects; and 
  4. the materials used to recruit subjects, including the use of email and text messaging.

If this is a multi-site study in which subjects are recruited by methods not under the control of the local site, e.g., call center or national advertisements, describe those methods.

The IRB must review and approve the content of all recruitment and advertisement materials, including oral communications, before implementation. Submit the final printed copy of advertisements.

See “Study Recruitment” in the Investigator Manual for additional guidelines for participant recruitment.

Study Finder

StudyFinder is a web-based recruitment tool managed and sponsored by Penn State’s Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI). The option to use StudyFinder as a recruitment tool is available to all researchers at Penn State conducting studies that are actively recruiting participants/volunteers. To use StudyFinder for recruitment, complete the StudyFinder Recruitment page in CATS IRB in the initial submission to the IRB. Study information provided in CATS IRB must be presented in lay language to be most effective in reaching potential participant. Upon IRB approval, the study will be added to StudyFinder.

For information on how to add, update, or remove StudyFinder as a recruitment option in CATS IRB, see the“IRB Researcher’s Quick Reference” guide (available in the Help Center of CATS IRB under the Guides tab).

Recruiting Previous Study Participants

Some investigators may want or need to recruit volunteers from past studies for their future studies.

  • The IRB must approve the investigator’s plan for keeping participants’ identifying information for future recruitment, and unless the IRB approves otherwise, the participants must consent for their identifying information to be help for future recruitment.
  • Identifying information kept for future recruitment must be stored separately from the master code list – unless the IRB approves otherwise and the participants consent to having their data used for future recruitment
  • Participants must be given a new study ID# in the new study – unless the IRB approves otherwise and the participants consent to linking their data between the studies


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