Participant Recruitment Advertising
All public-facing advertising materials with the intention of recruiting participants for a research study are subject to a review process before submission to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval.
This includes (but is not limited to):
Social media advertisements or posts
Scripts for television or radio
Investigators in any UK college requiring assistance in developing advertising materials to recruit research study participants, may request Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) through the CCTS Service Request Form (go here and click “Request Service”).
Investigators wishing to advertise materials on CCTS platforms (see FAQ 9, below, for locations), must request Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) AND Public Relations Review (PRR) on the CCTS Service Request Form (see FAQ 3).
Investigators in all UK colleges who have created their own recruitment materials and will advertise on their own as defined in their IRB protocol must request Public Relations Review (PRR) before submitting materials to the IRB for approval. Please see FAQ 3, below.
Please review the Dos and Don’ts and FAQs below for detailed information.
State clearly that your study is research.
Insert the word “research” before “study.”
Use a phrase such as “this survey is part of a research study.”
Show affiliation with the University of Kentucky.
If you are creating a flyer (a one-page, 8.5” by 11” sheet) you are required to include a UK logo. See sidebar Logos.
For advertising materials other than flyers, including “University of Kentucky” in your text is sufficient.
Provide contact information.
Investigator's name, title, department, college or center, University of Kentucky. Full details are required for flyers.
Contact method (phone number, email, URL, QR code). At least one of these methods of contact is required on all advertisements.
State the purpose of study (two sentences max).
Include royalty-free, copyright-free photos or illustrations. See FAQ 12.
Summarize eligibility requirements (i.e. “Participants must be 18 or older” or “Must be a Kentucky resident”) in a few bullet points.
List time commitment required. See FAQ 13.
List location of on-site research.
State that subjects will be paid or compensated for their time/travel (see guidance details and examples in FAQ 11).
Make safety, effectiveness and superiority claims or imply favorable outcomes beyond what is stated in your consent form.
State “new drug” or “new treatment.”
Promise “free medical treatment.”
Emphasize rewards or financial compensation. See FAQ 11.
Include a company name (i.e. Amazon or Kroger) for a gift card payment. See FAQ 11.
List the IRB protocol number or state “Study has been approved by the UK IRB.” (Implies endorsement.)
Disseminate advertisement materials with the Public Relations Review (PRR) stamp of approval (name and date). The stamped copy only goes to the IRB. The non-stamped (clean) copy should be used for recruitment advertising.
1: What do PRS and PRR stand for?
PRS: Participant Recruitment Services. PRS is based in the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). The PRS team assists you with the development of recruitment materials and helps you advertise your study.
PRR: Public Relations Review. Conducted by Research Communications (with the approval of the Office of the Vice President for Research and UK Public Relations and Marketing), the PRR team reviews your materials to ensure compliance with UK graphic standards, PR language and UK legal requirements, and IRB guidelines, then stamps materials before you send to the IRB.
2: Who needs to use the CCTS Service Request Form for research study ad creation/review?
All non-medical and medical Principal Investigators (PIs) who are faculty at UK and all students (undergraduate, graduate and postdoc conducting a study as part of a class or training project) need to submit their participant recruitment materials for any research study requiring IRB approval. You can choose to create your own materials OR partner with Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) to design your materials and/or to advertise your study.
3: How do I submit my materials for PRR or request PRS?
- Complete: CCTS Service Request Form (go here and click “Request Service’). You will need to become a member if you are not already a CCTS/CRSO member.
- Enter the linkblue ID of the Principal Investigator (as defined by the IRB documentation). The Service Request Form will then populate with the Principal Investigator’s information.
- If you are a research study team member, please enter your information in the “Point of Contact” fields.
- Select: Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) and Public Relations Review (PRR) if you are requesting help in designing your materials or want PRS to advertise your study.
- Select: Public Relations Review (PRR) only if you have designed your own materials and will be advertising on your own, as defined in your IRB Protocol.
- Attach: IRB Protocol + Approval Letter + Any Draft Flyers/Recruitment Materials as PDFs.
Who can I contact if I have questions when filling out this form?
CCTS/CRSO Research Navigator Services at CCTSNavigators@uky.edu. The CCTS/CRSO Research Navigator team assists researchers by guiding them through the research infrastructure, assessing project needs, facilitating access to CCTS and CRSO resources, and matching the needs of researchers with the expertise across campus.
4: I have created my own flyer, what do I do next?
You need Public Relations Review (PRR). If you will be advertising your recruitment materials on your own, you are responsible for editing your materials if the PRR team requests changes. You can avoid changes and save time by reviewing the Dos and Don’ts above and these FAQs before you submit your advertising materials. See FAQ3 when you are ready to submit, choose “PRR only” and upload your materials as PDFs.
PRR will occur within two business days of submission. The PRR team reviews your materials to make sure they meet requirements by the IRB, PR and UK Office of Legal Counsel, as outlined in these Dos and Don’ts and FAQs.
When the PRR team stamps (with name + approved date) your materials, you then send those stamped versions to the IRB for review and approval. Once you receive IRB approval, use the non-stamped versions of your materials to recruit participants.
5: I want to design my own flyer. Is a template available?
Yes! You can download and edit this flyer pdf in Adobe Acrobat to tailor it for your research study.
6: I would like Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) to create and/or advertise my research study. What do I do?
- First, complete the CCTS Service Request Form (see FAQ 3).
- PRS provides sample IRB language for the recruitment section of your IRB Protocol Application that details various recruitment methods and advertisement platforms offered by the CCTS and CCTS partners within research, academic, medical and community-based populations. (PIs can modify this language based on research subject matter).
- PRS will create all recruitment ads and content (incorporating photos, animation, video clips from several licensed image companies).
- PRS will send finalized materials for Public Relations Review (PRR). PRR will return stamped materials to PRS. PRS will send stamped materials to you and request you submit them for IRB approval.
- Per your confirmation that IRB approval has been obtained (you supply IRB protocol + approval letter to PRS), PRS posts materials to CCTS platforms (see FAQ 9).
- PRS tracks metrics on recruitment materials and methods used by PI.
- PRS provides feedback regarding successful methods of advertisement and recruitment.
7: What do Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) cost?
8: Where can I find the IRB requirements for research study materials?
- See Participant Recruitment Guidance Dos and Don’ts (above).
- Read these FAQs.
- Review “A Principal Investigator’s Guide to Identification and Recruitment of Human Subjects for Research” (PDF) found under “Recruitment of Subjects/Advertising” on the IRB Survival Handbook webpage.
- Research Recruitment and Advertising in Human Research [video, 15 minutes]
9: What are the benefits of working with Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) to advertise my study?
PRS helps you with material creation AND specific advertising placement. Learn more below.
Recruitment Material Creation: How are you reaching your population?
- provide PIs with sample language for the Advertisement section of your IRB protocol that can be modified according to subject matter.
- create template flyers, digital banners ads, media advertisements (radio, television and videos), research registry flyers, educational brochures, online prescreening forms, posters, etc.
- connect PIs with other UK researchers, partners and campus entities that also work with your desired population
- Markey Cancer Center
- Sanders Brown Center on Aging
- Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI)
- CCTS Special Populations Research Core
- CCTS Community Engagement and Research Core
- Engagement with underrepresented minority populations
- Engagement with Rural Research Hubs located in KY’s Appalachian counties
Recruitment Material Advertisement: Where will people see your ads?
- Wall mounts (UK HealthCare PAV H, UK College of Nursing, UK College of Pharmacy, UK Good Samaritan Hospital Lobby, UK University Health Services, and UK Shriner’s Children’s Hospital Lobby), UK HealthCare digital screens (per the approval of UK HealthCare), back of patient room doors at UK Turfland (Barnstable Brown Diabetes Clinic)
- Get Well Network monitor screens in patient rooms (UK HealthCare Pav A, Pav H, Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) and Good Samaritan Hospital (GSH)
- ukclinicalresearch.com: more than 20K hits to this website this year
- uky.edu: Select “Research” then “Participate in Research”
- ukhealthcare.uky.edu: Select “Research” from the Main Menu, then “Clinical Trials”
- Local media and media in Eastern Kentucky locations (newspaper, radio)
- UK ResearchMatch, Wellness, Health, and You (WHY) or other research registry platforms
- UK CCTS Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or YouTube pages)
- Community Outreach Events in the local area (i.e., Mind Matters Health Fair, Latino Health Fair, Roots and Heritage Festival)
- UK Campus Outreach Events (Undergraduate Research Day, Barnstable Brown Diabetes Research Day)
Note: If your materials are created by the PRS team, they will send materials to the Public Relations Review (PRR) team upon completion. The PRR team will return stamped materials to PRS. PRS will send to you, the PI, and request you provide confirmation of IRB approval (protocol + approval letter). PRS team will post ads to CCTS platforms within two business days.
10: What UK logo should appear on my ads?
You need one of the two required logo options on flyers. Social media ads are not required to use these logos. Please see the Logos sidebar for examples and links to download page.
You should not add the words “An Equal Opportunity University” to another logo.
You may use an official UK college/center/lab logo on materials, but you must also use one of these required logos.
11: Can I say participants will be paid in my ad?
You are not allowed to emphasize payment, which means you can’t say “paid research study” or present a dollar amount in your headline. You can, with IRB approval, state how participants will be paid in the body text of the ad.
You are not allowed to name a company like Kroger or Amazon, i.e. “Participants will receive a $40 Kroger gift card.” (UK does not permit naming a company like Kroger or Amazon in advertising materials, because it is seen as the university’s endorsement of that company. You may name a company in an email message to participants and in your consent materials.)
You can say “Participants will be compensated.” You can say “Participants will receive a $40 gift card” (if IRB approves, see below).
You are not allowed to say participants will be entered into a “raffle.” You can say “entered to win” a drawing, i.e. “All participants will be entered to win a $250 gift card” (if IRB approves, see below).
The IRB considers whether listing payment constitutes “undue influence.” In some cases, it is more ethical to state “participants will be compensated for their time” but not list the dollar amount. Generally, ads for Phase I-III clinical trials and other significant risk research should not state the amount to be paid to potential participants. For other studies, the IRB considers requests to list payment amount on a case-by-case basis.
12: Where can I find images for my ads?
Participant recruitment ads must use royalty-free, fair-use images. These images (often called stock images) can include photography or illustrations. The following sites provide royalty-free images. Some images may include restrictions or requirements for use, and it is your responsibility to adhere to all applicable terms and conditions.
- Adobe Stock (This is part of the enterprise license if you work with Adobe products through UK.)
- Go to http://stock.adobe.com.
- In the upper right corner, select “Sign In.”
- Enter your UK email address.
- Select “Company or School Account.”
- It may automatically redirect you back to the Adobe Stock site (or you may have to enter your linkblue credentials).
- Enter keywords for your search.
- Select your image. If the image says “Education License – Standard Image” in its description, it is included in the university plan and available to download and use for free.
- Select “License.”
- Select Vector (AI/EPS/SVG, used for Adobe Illustrator) or JPEG (used for Adobe Photoshop).
- Click “Download.”
- UK Human Development Institute Photo Library
The CCTS Service Request Form includes a place to paste the link to the source of your image. Please provide that link.
If your ad includes photos of previous study participants, or personal images from your research lab, you must have a signed UK consent form (Standard Media Release Form) from each pictured individual. Attach the consent form to the CCTS Service Request Form as a PDF.
13: How should I present the time commitment required of the participant?
Provide a short explanation of what the study entails, how it will be conducted and where it will take place:
- “The study will involve two, 30-minute zoom sessions that will be scheduled at your convenience.”
- “The study team will contact you to conduct a 10- to 15-minute phone survey.”
- “Participants will complete a two-hour, in-person interview at the Healthy Kentucky Research Building on the University of Kentucky campus.”
14: Can I place my recruitment ads on UK campus?
Approval for the placement of advertising in facilities or common areas on campus must be obtained. Follow the University Signage Policy administered by the Office of University Events. Please submit your IRB approval letter with your request to Abby Franklin, Office of University Events, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Placement of advertisements on Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) platforms are completed by PRS staff only. If you would like to advertise on these platforms, please submit a CCTS Service Request Form for PRS using steps outlined in FAQ 3.
15: I submitted advertising materials I created and PRR requested changes. What now?
- Make any necessary changes requested by PRR.
- Resubmit modified documents as PDFs to email@example.com with your name and IRB protocol #.
- Your modified documents will be reviewed/approved within two business days.
- PI and study teams who are creating their own materials accept responsibility for keeping all related IRB-documentation (protocol + approval letter)
16: When in the IRB protocol process should I send recruitment materials for review? (As I’m initially submitting for a protocol. After I have a protocol in place? When contact information has changed?)
PI’s can submit recruitment materials for review at all three timepoints named above. They can submit the materials with their initial protocol. They can submit materials after the protocol is in place (to reflect changes in delivery and/or recruitment methods). Materials need to be re-stamped (submitted for PRR) for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: if there are any modifications to study inclusion criteria, study description, staffing changes (resulting in updated contact info on materials).
17: What materials can skip Public Relations Review (PRR)?
If your research study is being conducted in coordination with other universities and the UK Institutional Review Board (IRB) is NOT the IRB of record, you do not have to submit your materials for PRR. For more information on this, see the FAQs on the Single IRB Reliance page.
Sponsored-created materials (designed for multi-site national recruitment) do not require PRR. UK IRB review of these materials is still required.
18: Who can answer questions about participant recruitment advertising?
19: How can I protect my RedCap survey from bots?
Ensure your surveys are completed by a real person (and not a bot) by building a reCAPTCHA and attestation statement into all REDCap surveys (e.g., “To proceed to the survey, please check the box and click the button below.”) See the REDCap Basic Training Guide (p 112) from Vanderbilt University to learn more. Visit UK's RedCap page to learn more.
20: Can I use bitly to shorten my URLs?
While bit.ly links are useful to provide shortened URLs (website addresses), they make cause issues. Participant recruitment ads with bit.ly links are likely to be blocked if distributed to Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network (MCCAN) and Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) listservs. Ensure your study recruitment materials have full URLs (web address links) that can be posted directly into emails sent through their listserv (e.g., “Find opportunities to participate in clinical research by visiting the following website: https://www.ccts.uky.edu/index.php/participate-research.”)
Note: at the time of the above video presentation, PRS services were free if a PI was using PRS first the first time. This agreement expired at the beginning of FY 2024. Please visit the CCTS website, complete a service request form here, and select Participant Recruitment Services (PRS) for a consultation.