Step 2: Select and Recruit a Participant
Select the Participants
Typically when conducting semi-structured or unstructured interviews, the researcher identifies a small purposeful, or purposive, sample of individuals to interview. The question or questions that drive your research will help determine the participants, from whom you will collect data. Identify stakeholder groups and decide whom you want to be interviewing. Make sure you represent the diversity of the stakeholders you serve and/or the diverse roles represented in an IPM program.
See the section on ‘selecting participants” under focus groups. Additional things to consider in selecting participants:
- What are the roles (such as growers, Extension staff, researchers, the public) that people play in the area you are studying?
- Have you included various perspectives from those who may approve or disapprove of what you are researching? Think about how credible their information will be.
- What levels of experience (years of farming, working in extension, etc.) are represented?
- What is the diversity (gender, ethnicity, other background) of the participants?
After determining who to interview, decide how many interviews to conduct. Given the different types of people you want to interview and the resources and time available, determine what a reasonable sample size is. Bear in mind the time it takes to transcribe interviews, review data, follow up with participants as needed, organize and interpret data. There is a much larger time investment in processing qualitative data versus quantitative data.
Recruit the Participants
Recruiting participants for your research can be accomplished via multiple means, depending on what type of information you are seeking and from whom. A “convenience sample” from an accessible list of individuals of potential participants may be identified , such as a registration list for a training or an organizational member list. You could place an announcement in a newsletter, bulletin board or listserv that would be viewed by potential participants. If you are seeking the perspectives of people representing specific roles, expertise or points of view, “snowball sampling” may help identify people who are likely sources of information. Start with a known contact person and ask that person to recommend others who know about the topic and would be willing to speak with you; and then ask subsequent participants to recommend others.
When reaching out to potential participants, via e-mail, phone or other means, you will want to provide enough information so the person can make an informed decision about participating.
Minimally, the following information should be included in a recruitment communication:
- Who and/or what organization is conducting the research
- The purpose of the research (how the information will be used)
- Who is eligible to participate (why you are seeking their participation)
- What you are asking them to do (participate in an interview – phone, in-person)
- Time commitment for the participant (how long the interview will take)
- Who to contact for additional information (if they have other questions)
- Any other information your participant may need to know before participating (such as confidentiality)
Example Recruitment Communication
In most cases, interviews require human subjects review by an internal review board (IRB). Researchers may need to make specific disclosures about how research data will be used and participants may need to sign an informed consent form.
Below is an IRB approved University of Arizona Recruitment Statement provided by Dr. Al Fournier from his prior work.
The University of Arizona is conducting a study about cross-commodity pest management practices and the influence of Cooperative Extension IPM guidelines. As a professional pest control advisor who has attended our meetings, you are being asked to participate in an interview about your pest management practices and your knowledge of and opinions about UA IPM guidelines.
Participation is voluntary. But, as a person who makes pest management decisions, we are interested in your knowledge and opinions, and hope to gain a better understanding of the PCA perspective and decision-making process. The interview should last about 1 hour and will be recorded and transcribed to facilitate data analysis. Information you share in the interview is confidential.
The data compiled from interviews will help us gain insight into the factors that affect cross-commodity pest management practices, including adoption (and non-adoption) of UA guidelines. As a result of what we learn from PCAs like yourself, we plan to update and improve the IPM guidelines and our outreach education programs. A summary report on this project will be published but will not include names or identifiers, so that specific data cannot be linked to individual participants.
Do you have any questions?
If you think you would like to participate, I can meet with you to provide more details and to conduct the interview. When would be a convenient time to meet?