Remote Recruitment and Participation

Utilising remote research method Studies that have been approved by any LJMU REC (including UREC and all LJMU Faculty/School RECs) can be amended to utilise remote research methods (e.g. online questionnaires, telephone interviews etc.). If the amendments follow the standard ethical protocol for the use of remote research methods (copied below) further ethical approval will not be required. To make study amendments that do not conform to the standard ethical protocol, investigators should submit request for study amendments in the usual way.

Studies that have been approved by any other REC (e.g. NHS REC or MoDREC) can be amended as instructed by those RECs.

UREC Standard Ethical Protocol – remote participant recruitment and research activities

Moving from face-to-face to remote participant recruitment:

• Identifying participants. Do not request personal data from anyone in order to identify potential participants – ask the data controller to identify and contact potential participants on behalf of the investigator.

• Contacting participants using email and telephone. Personal contacts can be used – investigators can ask individuals to pass on recruitment emails to their personal contacts. If an investigator does not have legitimate access to contact details, ask the gatekeeper to send the recruitment email or telephone the potential participants on behalf of the investigator – to ask the potential participants permission to provide their contact details to the investigator or for the potential participant to contact the investigator directly.

• Recruitment emails. Ensure the email asks the recipient to read the participant information sheet attached to the email or is made available when clicking on a link and to contact the investigator if they have any questions.

• Using social media. Abide by the guidance provided below.

• Consent. The investigator must obtain consent directly from the participant not via a gatekeeper.

• Consent for Telephone/video interviews/focus groups. Can be audio recorded – participant consent must be audio recorded and stored separately from the interview recording.

• Consent for online surveys. Include the statement of implied consent at the start of the survey (refer to your approved ethics form).

• Consent for data collection over email. Consent can be acknowledged over email once the participant has confirmed that have had at least 24 hours to consider the PIS and consent form.

• Informed consent. Update the participant information sheet to ensure participants can be fully informed about their participation.

• Student research – Amendments to an ethically approved study to involve remote participant recruitment must be scrutinised by the supervisor.

Collecting data remotely:

• Online surveys & data protection. Make sure the survey does not record the participants IP address.

• Online surveys & data protection safeguards. If the survey can be anonymous then do not ask the participant for any identifying information (e.g. name, DOB, address, ID number etc.). If the survey needs to be identifiable in order to link surveys from the same participant together, code each survey as soon as possible using a key to link the code to participant’s identity. As soon as there is no requirement for the surveys to be identifiable, delete the key that links the code to the participant’s identity.

• Online surveys & operation. Investigators should allow participants to skip questions or withdraw from the study. In questionnaires it can be easy for respondents to accidentally skip a question. In order to avoid this some online surveys require participants to answer every question before the form can be submitted or go to the next page. You might want to require respondents to answer each question, but include a response option for each item that allows the respondent to skip the item. On each page of your online questionnaire, you should include an option that will allow the respondent to withdraw from the survey. If the respondent chooses this option, all responses from that subject should be discarded.

• Online surveys and recruitment for interviews. Once a survey has been submitted by the participant you can set up the online survey to automatically direct the participant to a separate page that asks them to provide their email address if they would like to be interviewed – such that a participants specific survey responses cannot be linked back to their email address.

• Data. Store data on a LJMU drive such as m:drive, OneDrive - unless you have prior approval to do something different.

• Interviews/focus groups & privacy. Ensure they take place in an appropriate location – with the required level of privacy.

• Interviews/focus groups recordings. Record data on a password protected device. Record sensitive (special category) personal data on an encrypted device. As soon as possible, transfer the recording to a LJMU secure drive and delete the recording from the recording device.

• Interviews/focus groups & data protection. Make it clear on the PIS how recordings will be used and kept secure. Do not use recording for anything other than data analysis – unless you have prior approval to do something different.

• Interviews/focus groups & data authenticity. Do not delete the recordings, store them securely on an LJMU drive so that they can be access on request for data authenticity / auditing / governance reasons by a supervisor or governance administrator.

• Student research. Amendments to an ethically approved study to include remote participation must be scrutinised by the supervisor

Guidance for recruiting participants through social media

Why might I want to use social media to recruit participants? You may wish to use social media to distribute an online questionnaire or ask people to take part in an interview, focus group or some other method. Using social media will be particularly useful if you wish to recruit other students. What do I need to submit to the ethics committee? Alongside other required documents (e.g. ethics forms, participant information sheets, consent forms and questionnaires) you should also provide information about how you are going to recruit participants to your study specifically using social media. You will need to provide:

• Details of the social media you are using (Facebook groups, Twitter etc.)

• Online recruitment material advertising your study (e.g. posts or tweets.)

• Any other poster/infographic/ advertising material.

• If you are using your own personal social media to recruit then you should also provide proof (e.g. through screenshots) that you have made your accounts private.

What should be included in my online recruitment material?

You should ensure that your material includes:

• Your name and affiliation (i.e. Public Health Institute) within the University

• Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) logo

• Your university email address. Do not give out your personal email address or telephone number

• If required, inclusion criteria, e.g. your study is looking for LJMU students aged between 18 and 40

• A statement that you and your supervisor can be contacted for further information before a participant makes a decision about whether to take part

• Brief details about the research, e.g. This research is being undertaken as part of [course name] requirements. You are under no obligation to take part in this research, however if you choose to, participation in this research is voluntary and you may withdraw at any time

• A link or attachment to a full participant information sheet

• A statement that the research has been approved by the relevant ethics committee. Where length restrictions do not allow full details to be provided, e.g. on Twitter a link should be included to an appropriate website, email address or other point of contact where further details can be obtained. This can just be via the website where your questionnaire will be hosted e.g. Bristol Online Survey. If you are not recruiting for a survey and are instead recruiting for e.g. an interview or focus group then you can include an infographic or poster which provides extra information about your study.

How do I recruit through Facebook?

You may advertise your study via your own Facebook page providing you make your Facebook account private. You can recruit via LJMU Facebook groups and seek permission from the relevant Facebook page administrator. You can recruit via non LJMU Facebook groups and seek permission from the relevant Facebook group administrator. In these cases you must ensure that your advertisement material includes the LJMU logo. Details on how to change your Facebook privacy settings can be found here:   You should however make your recruitment post public to all. Details on how to do that can be found here:  

How do I recruit through Twitter?

You may also wish to recruit through Twitter. This may be useful if you do not wish to specifically recruit students. In these instances you may wish to set up a research project specific Twitter account and use relevant hashtags to promote your study.

• Set up public account for your research using your LJMU email to send out tweets – you may wish to use hashtags or @ relevant organisations in these tweets to promote your study

• You can then retweet this from your personal twitter account to your own followers but you must make sure your personal account it set to private – please provide a screenshot in your ethics application.

• Retweeting the study from a public account will allow your followers to retweet (the original) while your personal account is set to private.

How do I recruit through Instagram?

• Please make sure your Instagram account is private before recruiting for your study from your followers

• If you wish to recruit more widely, then set up a public Instagram account for your using your LJMU email – you may wish to use hashtags or tag relevant people and organisations to promote your study