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Advertisements and Recruitment Materials

Advertisements and recruitment material are considered the first step of the informed consent process and are used to meet a project’s recruitment need for research participants. The IRB must approve all advertisement materials and recruitment methods and material during the initial protocol submission as well as for review and re-approval at the time of continuing review.

Advertising and recruiting procedures must protect potential participants’ confidentiality. The content of recruitment materials and the method for communicating it cannot create undue influence or contain misleading or exculpatory language. Additionally, advertisements must clearly state that volunteers are being recruited for research purposes.


Examples of direct advertisement include posted notices, paid and unpaid newspaper solicitations or magazine advertisements (which may include public service announcements), websites, bulletin board announcements, recruitment posters, flyers Internet/website postings and solicitations by electronic mail.

Advertisements should contain information that provides enough detail to allow the prospective  participant to determine his/her eligibility and interest. Advertisements must:

  • not appear as coercive
  • include name and phone number of the investigator
  • describe the general purpose of the research and include a summary of the eligibility criteria that will be used to admit subjects into the study
  • provide a straightforward and truthful description of the benefits not state or imply a certainty of favorable outcome or other benefit beyond what is in the informed consent form
  • indicate the location of the research and the person to contact for further information

Advertisements must display the UMBC IRB approval stamp or at a minimum have the essentials of the validation stamp: “UMBC IRB, Approval On (date), Approved until (date).”


Recruitment methods may include:

  • Verbal recruitment (via telephone or in-person): investigators must provide the IRB with a script of the verbal recruitment process, detailing the intended “contents” of the delivery.
  • Electronic recruitment (via e-mail, web sites, or listservs): investigators must provide the IRB with a version of the e-mail script or web site view detailing the recruitment process and how consent will be obtained. An investigator may be required to provide the IRB with access to the proposed web address.
  • Recruitment by mail: Investigators must provide the IRB with the materials that would be used for the mailing campaign
  • Recruitment by advertisements: Investigators must provide the IRB with the intended proposed advertisements, flyers, and ads to recruit participants for research purposes.

A sample flyer for recruitment is found here.

Recruiting participants for interviews using video conferencing platforms

While UMBC is in a state of Research Mode Maintenance, current UMBC lab facilities may not available for conducting in-person interviews or other participant interactions.  As such, PIs may plan to conduct research at non-UMBC venues (such as libraries, workspaces on conference rooms). The Governor of Maryland has directed that many public placed be closed during the COVID-19 event. Note that such venues may not be able to provide space for the recommended social distancing. The ORPC recommends that PIs consider using telephone or virtual/online formats, such as WebEx,  to interact with and/or conduct interviews with participants. Additional information regarding confidentiality and data security requirements are found on the ORPC myUMBC site.

Requesting approval of advertisements and recruiting materials

  1. Follow the submission instructions for an initial application or continuation review.
  2. Identify and describe the method(s) of advertisement for research participants in the protocol document.
  3. Attach a copy of the text or a printed copy of any website, newspaper, or other media advertisements for use initial application or continuation review submission for IRB review and approval.

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