43 ways to find participants for research

Tomer Sharon
Mar 3, 2018 · 5 min read
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One of the biggest bottlenecks of research and a topic of unjust misconceptions is finding people who will participate in research. It’s a bottleneck because without participants there is no research. A common misconception is that finding participants for research is hard, costly, and time consuming, almost an unachievable goal, especially from the perspective of those who never conducted research with people.

The following is a list of several dozen options of ways to find participants for studies. As you can quickly see, some ways are relevant for consumer-facing products, some for business-to-business ones, some are easy, others hard, some are free, and others will cost a lot. In any case, you have multiple ways for finding participants.

  1. Ask people who work in the organization that develops the product. For example, ask employees who are not part of the product/design team), or work with departments that can reach out to their product active, potential and or inactive users. If relevant, ask the UX group of a company from which you might want to find participants for research.

As one last piece of advice, I will quote my friend and colleague, George Zhang, and recommend to be cautious of the cheap and fast fallacy, as well as the large sample trap. Quality matters, not quantity. Rigor matters, not speed. Outcome matters, not output. Keep these in mind when you look for people to participate in research.

If you liked this article, check out:

You can also find me on Twitter if you’d like to follow more of my research thinking!

I’d like to thank the following people who responded to my Facebook posts on the topic, which made the list grow twice as much: zarla ludin, Chauncey Wilson, Cindy Alvarez, Diego Mendes, Chris LaRoche, Elizabeth Rosenzweig, Whitney Hess, Reto Laemmler, David Siegel, Dan Berlin, jen mcginn, George Zhang, Danielle Cooley, Michael Ryan, Daniel Stillman, Michele Marut, Susan Mercer, Daniel Szuc, Eva Kaniasty, Rich Buttiglieri, Stavros Garzonis, Kirsten Robinson, and Steve Denning.

Tomer Sharon

Written by

Head of User Research & Metrics at Goldman Sachs, Author of Validating Product Ideas and It's Our Research, Ex-Google, Ex-WeWork, WWE fanboy. 2∞&→

Tomer Sharon

Written by

Head of User Research & Metrics at Goldman Sachs, Author of Validating Product Ideas and It's Our Research, Ex-Google, Ex-WeWork, WWE fanboy. 2∞&→

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