Recruitment of Research Participants Guidance

Version Date: December 7, 2015

UW–Madison IRBs review study recruitment methods (including advertisements and payments) to evaluate whether they will affect the equitable selection of participants, and to ensure that the proposed methods adequately protect the rights and welfare of participants.


IRBs will consider whether recruitment processes, including advertisements could affect the equitable selection of participants, or be unduly coercive or misleading. IRBs will consider the content, design and mode of communication of any advertisements in making this determination. The IRBs will review advertising to ensure that advertisements do not:

In addition, advertisements should generally be limited to providing only information prospective participants need to determine their eligibility and interest in a study, such as the following which the IRBs may review:

When FDA requirements apply to a study, the IRB will also review advertising to specifically ensure that advertisements:

Participant Compensation

IRBs allow compensation for research participants with some limitations. Compensation should not be excessive relative to the nature of the research, in order to avoid inequitable selection of participants or undue inducement to participate. In addition:

Information regarding how to process payment for research participants at UW–Madison can be found here:

Payments for Recruitment Referrals

Payments for the referral, recruitment or enrollment of potential research participants in human research studies are generally only permitted when such payments:

  1. Are equal to the direct costs incurred by the individual or entity referring, recruiting or enrolling the participants (these costs may be specified in research agreements between the sponsor and the University); or
  2. Payments reflect the fair market value of services performed and are commensurate with the efforts of the individual(s) performing the participant referral, recruitment, or enrollment activities.

The following are not permitted:

  1. Finder's fees for the identification and referral of participants.
  2. Recruitment bonuses or incentives tied to the timing or rate of enrollment or number of participants enrolled.
  3. Linking payments to successful research outcomes.

See Also: