E-mail Recruiting of Research Participants                    UPPS No. 02.02.09

Issue No. 1

Effective Date: 06/17/2013

Review: October 1 E3Y





01.01  Texas State provides e-mail accounts and services to its students, faculty, and staff to enhance communication, collaboration, and information sharing.  E-mail’s widespread use and proven effectiveness make it one of the university’s primary information delivery systems. That same ubiquity and utility also make it desirable for recruiting research subjects from the extensive pool of individuals with active university e-mail addresses.


Experience has shown that overly frequent or suspicious-looking recruitment solicitations can result in reduced recipient productivity, recipient “survey fatigue,” and gradually waning participation. In addition, the research itself may be subject to oversight by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) or to privacy laws (e. g., FERPA) governing the nature of the data being collected. For these reasons, the university must manage e-mail recruiting of research subjects.     


01.02  This UPPS provides guidance to university faculty, staff, and students to assure compliance with all legal requirements, minimize unnecessary and unproductive e-mail communication, and maximize the value of e-mail as a tool for recruiting research subjects. It applies to all university faculty, staff, and students who employ e-mail to solicit participation in research projects using university e-mail addresses (e. g., <address>@txstate.edu).




02.01  Research – a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge.


02.02  Texas State Affiliate – any individual having an active e-mail mailbox in the Texas State e-mail system. Current affiliations are defined and described in Section 04. of UPPS No. 04.01.02, Information Resources Identity and Access Management and include students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community.


02.03  Administrative Survey – any organized effort to collect information directly from individuals who comprise a significant proportion of one or more Texas State affiliation groups. Administrative surveys often address academic, research, personnel, management, or environmental issues in order to assess and enhance institutional, divisional or departmental effectiveness.  When a survey targets a significant portion of one or more affiliation groups, regardless of purpose, the survey originator must follow the review and approval procedures outlined in UPPS No. 01.03.05, Administrative Surveys.


02.04  Research participant – humans participating as subjects in research activity or project.


02.05  Principal Investigator (PI) – individual responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the research activity or project for which subjects are being recruited; may be current Texas State students, staff, or faculty. NOTE: if recruiting subjects via e-mail, the PI must be a member of one of the groups listed in Section 03.04.


03.       General Requirements and Restrictions


03.01  The Texas State e-mail addresses of any Texas State affiliate, affiliation group, or subset or combination thereof, may be included in a research project’s target pool of recruitment addresses, so long as their participation is consistent with the goals and objectives of the research project.


03.02  Recruiting messages must originate from the Texas State e-mail address of the research project’s PI who must be a member of one of the groups listed in Section03.04. The recruiting message must conform to the format described in Section 04.


03.03  To ensure compliance with IRB policy and applicable privacy laws, the PI must have obtained either an approval or an exemption from the IRB prior to sending the recruitment e-mail.


03.04  Only members of the following groups are permitted to recruit research subjects via university e-mail:


a.    current faculty


b.    current staff


c.    current graduate students under faculty supervision


d.    Honors College undergraduate enrolled in the Honors thesis course. 

      NOTE: E-mail recruitment of subjects for all other undergraduate-level research projects is the responsibility of the project’s faculty sponsor or director.


03.05  Research projects involving administrative surveys (as defined above) must have those surveys approved in advance by the University Survey Committee (USC). Details about the USC and the administrative survey review process can be found at http://www.ir.txstate.edu/links/usc.html.




04.01  All recruitment e-mail messages must conform to the format described in this section, using the E-mail Recruiting of Research Participants template located in the IRB Resources section of the Research Integrity & Compliance website.


04.02  Address Lines. In accord with best practice, the PI shall employ measures to avoid disclosing the e-mail addresses of potential research subjects to others. Common techniques include the use of:


a.    individually targeted messages (one address in ‘TO:’ line) per message; or


b.    group targeted messages (all recipient addresses in the ‘BCC:’ line). 



04.03  Subject Line. The PI shall use a standard subject line in all recruiting messages that begins with the phrase “Research Participation Invitation:” followed by the research project’s title, topic, or similar key words.  


04.04  E-mail Message Body. The e-mail message body must begin with a statement affirming IRB approval or exemption of the research project. The PI should use the bulk of the message body to describe the purpose of the research project and the anticipated value of the findings. To enhance the likelihood of recipient participation, the PI may also wish to address other topics, such as the reason for the recipient’s selection, a statement of anonymity or confidentiality, the anticipated time required for participation, the voluntary nature of participation, and any incentives for participating. The body of the e-mail message must close with the following information:


a.    The IRB Approval or Exemption Number.


b.    A statement directing questions about research, research participants’ rights, or research-related harm to participants, to both the current IRB chair and the director of Research Compliance, and including their current contact information.


c.    A statement directing questions about the research project itself to the PI, and including the PI’s telephone and e-mail contact information.


The message body should be free of special font effects such as color, bolding, or highlighting. The PI should include all pertinent information in the message body, but if supplemental information is necessary, hyperlinks (to the supplemental information) are preferred over attachments.




05.01  The Office of Research Compliance shall establish and maintain procedures to facilitate compliance with this policy.  




06.01  Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:


Position                                                         Date


Director, Office of Research                      October 1 E3Y



Chair, Institutional Review Board             October 1 E3Y


Director, Institutional Research                 October 1 E3Y


Director, Testing, Research-Support &    October 1 E3Y

Evaluation Center


Associate Dean, Graduate College          October 1 E3Y


Special Assistant to the Vice President   October 1 E3Y

for Information Technology




This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.


Director, Office of Research Compliance, senior reviewer of this UPPS


Assistant Vice President for Research and Federal Relations


Associate Vice President for Research and Federal Relations