Participant recruitment

Current efforts & past results

The Recruitment Working Group is actively exploring and testing out recruitment approaches!

See this Google doc for recent observations about approaches and success.

Here are some general observations:

  • Substantial carryover effects to other studies (in different age range) when one group advertises a study! We’re getting benefits of cooperation, and really not seeing “competition” between Lookit studies at this point.
  • Paying participants makes a huge difference in ability to recruit, as well as diversity of participants. Separately, we believe it’s ethical to pay families for their time & contribution. We currently aim for ~$15/hour for the expected duration of the study. Currently done by researchers manually sending gift cards post-study; eventual plans to provide centralized compensation functionality.

Existing avenues for online outreach:

  • Facebook page
    • Posting to AcademicMamas w/ babies born 2017 page (and tagging specific moms with kids in age range) has had the most success (but still very small-scale - a total of maybe 10 kids)
    • Occasional attempts at ‘boosting’ posts advertising studies (most recently, ~6000 views from new parents) has never yielded participants for unpaid studies
    • Interested labs may advertise via the Lookit page - we send an invite to be an editor, you may need to double check at to find it. There are known problems about the invites being hard to find:
    • Experimenting with interest targeting and recording results would be a helpful contribution!

Potential approaches:

  • Ask participants to tell their friends
    • Include in study debriefing
    • Provide video for download/sharing
    • Email after study
    • Provide printable flyers on website
  • Option to become a parent ambassador/advisor, or just be more available to parents
    • Advance testing of new studies
    • Providing more detailed feedback on studies & parent-facing text
    • Occasional joint meetings, or involvement in other Lookit meetings
    • Share with parent groups online
    • “Office hours” - easy to join group video chat
    • Schedule participants (even though it’s unnecessary) to provide “accountability” when people intend to participate
  • Cultivate a more active social media presence
    • Regularly posted content - e.g.
      • Info about cognitive development or recent studies, interesting articles
      • Cute videos of participants
      • Status updates
      • Intros to lab members
      • Q&A about cognitive development
      • Encourage sharing cute pictures/videos on particular topics
      • “Ask your kid” feature - get funny answers to questions
    • Read about how to do this and/or get help from people who know what they’re doing
  • In-person local advertising (see Rianna’s Cambridge/Boston map). Put up flyers and/or talk to local institutions/people that work with kids to get them excited about Lookit, ask them to mention it to families, maintain relationships. Examples of places we’ve looked when advertising locally in Cambridge:
  • Go to events with kids and talk with families directly
    • Cambridge Science Festival
    • Keep an eye out on various calendars for events (e.g., Cambridge DHSP)
    • Boston Children’s Museum
  • Possible features to support recruitment
    • Point system
    • Let parents comment on studies publicly?
  • Media/online outreach
  • Better organize efforts across labs
  • Piggyback on local efforts to send out mailings
  • Actual advertising - e.g. Facebook, Google AdWords, magazine or public transit ad space