Volume 7 Issue 2 (2011)
Research Design

A Comparison of Internet-Based Participant Recruitment Methods: Engaging the Hidden Population of Cannabis Users in Research

Elizabeth Clare Temple
University of Ballarat
Rhonda Frances Brown
The Australian National University
Published February 18, 2012
  • Internet-based data collection,
  • Internet-based research,
  • research methods,
  • public health,
  • cannabis


While a growing number of researchers are embracing Internet-based data collection methods, the adoption of Internet-based recruitment methods has been relatively slow. This may be because little is known regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of different methods of Internet-based participant recruitment, nor how these different recruitment strategies impact on the data collected. These issues are addressed in this article with reference to a study comparing the effectiveness of three Internet-based strategies in recruiting cannabis users for an online study. Consideration of the recruitment data leads us to recommend that researchers use multipronged Internet-based recruitment campaigns with appropriately detailed recruitment messages tailored to the population of interest and located carefully to ensure they reach the intended audience. Further, we suggest that building rapport directly with potential participants, or utilising derived rapport and implicit endorsements, is an important aspect of successful Internet-based participant recruitment strategies.