By Steve Creech | December 2, 2010
Recruiting participants for a research study can be challenging. I often advise my clients to consider inviting members of a professional association to participate in their survey research. There are many advantages to this approach:
1. Very little red-tape. You are not targeting one or more companies individually, so you don’t have to get permission from many different people. You only need permission from the appropriate administrator of the professional association.
2. Convenience – Instead of mailing letters through the U.S. Postal service, or sending emails to a massive list of email addresses, you simply ask the appropriate administrator of the association to send your (email) letter of invitation on your behalf. This insures anonymity of the study participants since you are not requesting names, addresses, phone numbers, email address etc.
3. You can reach a broader audience. Rather than recruiting study participants from a single organization, located in a single geographic location, a national professional association has members located across many organizations and geographic locations, which goes to the ability to generalize your study sample to a larger population.
One question that is often asked of me is, how do I write a letter to the professional association to get permission to include the members of their association to participate in the study? I decided to post this article to benefit all doctoral students that have the same question.
First of all, a disclaimer: As a professional statistician, it is really outside my area of expertise to give you specific advice about how to craft the letter asking for permission. You might want to contact your university writing center to see if they can advise you, or maybe your mentor/committee chair. Having said that, I have worked with hundreds of doctoral students that needed help with this issue, so I know a little about it.
Here is my advice:
1) Introduce yourself, mention you are working on a doctoral dissertation at “fill in your university”, mention the topic of your study.
2) Make it very clear that you are not requesting email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses or any personally identifying information about the members of the association. You are asking that they email your letter of invitation to complete your online survey (note, I always recommend an online survey when possible, check out www.SurveyMonkey.com), on your behalf, by simply sending a group email to all of the members of their association. Make it clear that your survey does not ask for any personally identifying information, that the study participant’s identification will be completely anonymous.
3) Either include a copy of the questionnaire(s) you intend to use, or state that you will share the survey with them as soon as you have permission from your school and authors of the instrument(s) to do so, to assist with their making a final decision to agree to allowing you to study the members of their association.
4) I’m not sure of the job title of the person at the association that you should send the letter to. I “do not” recommend starting at the top like the CEO, president or vice president. I would look for a “director of communications” or something like that.
My name is ____, I am developing a research proposal for my doctoral dissertation at the University of ____ titled _____. I am requesting your permission to invite members of your association to participate in my study by completing an online survey. Please find attached a copy of the survey that I plan to use for my research.
I am not requesting email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses or any personally identifying information about the members of the association. Instead, I would like you to email my letter of invitation to complete the online survey, on my behalf, to all of the members of your association. My survey does not ask for any personally identifying information, the study participant’s identification will be completely anonymous.
I am not asking you to send the letter of invitation at this time. I must first obtain official approvals from my university and your organization. The intent of this email is to request your permission to invite members of your association to complete my survey. Once I have all of the appropriate permission letters, then I will forward to you the actual letter of invitation and ask you to email the letter on my behalf at that time.
If you are not the person in charge of approving this type of request I would very much appreciate if you would forward the name and contact information of the person I should communicate with. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you by phone if that would be helpful. In addition, I would be happy to provide any further information you may require in order to make a decision.
Thank you for your time.
Topics: Dissertation Advice |