Subject recruitment and Facebook

Does it seem ethically problematic to recruit experimental subjects by way of a facebook post?  I’m thinking of a project that has permission to recruit by word-of-mouth, by announcements posted to listservs, by posters hung up around campus or elsewhere in the city or passed out in person, etc.  That is, permission for a pretty broad range of recruitment activities is in place.  This is for a low-to-no-risk speech perception experiment.  One could begin the facebook post with “People in X city:” or such, since it’s an in-person experiment.  Facebook seems like a combination of a listserv with word-of-mouth.  Just to clarify:  I haven’t done this, but I’ve considered it.  I’m curious what others think.

4 Responses to Subject recruitment and Facebook

  1. I was involved in a study that was trying to recruit a particular population; this was pre-facebook, so we were thinking of posting to a listserv. I honestly can’t remember what the problems were (whether it was how we proposed to reimburse subjects or something else), so I am going to send your post to the PIs on the project and see what they said.

  2. Claire says:

    I don’t see any problem with it. I’ve been trying to imagine what adverse implications there could be that would be different from normal advertising.

  3. Here’s the reply I got from my colleague Lorraine Delhorne at MIT:

    Hi Susan,

    This has been a hot topic for IRBs. You will probably find more information on this topic through Prim&r ( than through ASHA. Even though an investigator has permission to recruit by word of mouth, posters, etc., s/he would need to send an amendment to the IRB and ask for permission to add social media to the recruitment methods.

    Here are a few more links that may be useful.

    NIH’s policy

    2012 Social Media in Recruitment Conference


  4. adymacsut says:

    We can try to write in the future the ethics of facebook!

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