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Participant Recruiting and Enrolling!

Wow, this has been a tough couple of weeks. In preparation for my first research study (or the first study I designed), I've run into a number of hurdles. Before I describe them, I'll tell you a bit more about my research: I am to explore the digital literacy practices and identity performance of high school aged Twitter users. I'm interested in investigating how, and why, young people aged 15-18 use Twitter, and how they present themselves as members of particular communities, users of particular hashtags, etc. It's something that I've been thinking about for a while, but I haven't had a chance to research it until now. (Also, up until now, my previous research has been with non-minors...see Gleason, 2013; Greenhow & Gleason, 2012).

Anyway, I've come up against some hurdles in getting this project off the ground.

1) Getting approval from IRB. I attempted to get a waiver of parent consent (meaning the parents wouldn't have to approve of the participation of son/daughter), but it was made clear by IRB that that wouldn't happen. I attempted to make the reasonable argument that adolescents aged 15-18 were cognitively developed enough to make an informed decision about participating in a research study, but IRB didn't seem consider that line of thinking. So, in the interest of completing the research practicum (which is a requirement of our PhD program, and usually completed in the 2nd year), I compromised and let it go. So now, I have to get parental approval for any participant in the study. Bummer. 

2) I've been having a hard time recruiting participants for the study. For the past 6-8 weeks, I've been following on Twitter a group of about 10 young people who are tweeting about identity issues-- they are self-identifying as members of certain athletic teams, are expressing their identity in particular ways, are describing their fights with parents, are detailing issues at school, etc. A lot of interesting identity-related stuff. My idea was that I would be able to recruit at least *some* of these young people via Twitter; in my mind, I'd already written a fascinating methods section on this process...but it didn't *quite* work out that way. I haven't been able to recruit *any* of the original young people I've been following, nor anyone else via Twitter recruitment. So I've had to return to "passive recruiting" using the connections I've made here at my grad school. I'm hoping for the best, but worried b/c I have a poster session at AERA in less than 4 weeks (granted, it's a "Work in Progress" grad student session, but still).

So I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions about how to recruit and enroll young people to particpate in a research study. The participant requirements are pretty low. They would tweet as they normally would. If, after conducting a discourse analysis of their tweets, I decide to interview them, I will pay then $30 for a series of Skype interviews. (I will follow around 8 young people on Twitter, and interview 3-4).

Suggestions, advice, etc?

More info on the study here

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