Research needs people and people need research. How do you know who is right for your diary study? Here are four tips for screening participants in your next diary study.

1. Include open-ended questions

Your screener form is the first window into how participants will share their stories and opinions during your project. Respondents who provide very little or no personal information on open-ended screener questions may not be the right candidates for your study. Make sure your screener has an open-ended question or two to give the participant an opportunity to let their individuality shine!

2. Pick up the phone

Having a conversation with each participant is critical in launching a successful diary study. Just because it’s a digital study doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time for a phone screen! The one-on-one conversation allows you to get to know your participants and make sure that what they shared in the screener reflects them well, and makes sense for your study. Be prepared to share more about you, your research, and why you want them to participate too –it’s an opportunity to build trust.

3. Explain the rules of the study

During your screener call, you should also share your expectations and how the diary study will work. Important details include the length of the study, the number of assignments, and payment schedule. This will help you have a conversation about if this fits into your participant’s life–they could be on vacation during the study and or don’t have the time for the frequency of assignments in your study. There’s no way to know if you don’t bring it up. (It’s also good practice to follow-up the call with an email or text with the details and your discussion!)

4. Find the right balance

Don’t forget to take a step back and look at what your participant group looks like as a whole. Make sure that your diary study participants represent the range of your desired audience, whether that’s geography, profession, ethnicity, gender, or interests. Look at the selected participants as a whole to ensure you have a diverse group for your study.

It's worth the investment to take the time to properly screen your diary study participants and build trust– and it will show in the results of your study too. To sum up, here’s a quick checklist of our tips:

  • Use an open-response question in your screener
  • Call each potential participant to build rapport
  • Confirm expectations and rules for the study
  • Balance the overall participant group