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Engagement, Inclusion, Recruitment, and Retention in Research Studies: About This Guide

A guide to help researchers find and share literature on methodology and evidence - based strategies for recruitment and retention

Created by Health Science Librarians

What is it?

This guide is primarily a tool to improve accessibility to published literature about recruitment and retention of participants into research studies or clinical trials. It is designed to simplify the task of conducting a literature search about participant involvement, recruitment methodology, and lessons learned in completed research studies.

You will also find resources for the full spectrum of tailored recruitment and retention assistance including: DIY tools, stakeholder engagement, participant-centered study design consults, recruitment troubleshooting consults, and fee-for-service study management and coordination.

Quick Search

Pre-formatted PubMed searches for evidence-based literature related to recruitment methodology and strategy. Searches are listed by population, disease area, and topic. If you don't see what you are looking for, you can also use our basic recruitment search and customize it to get the results specific to your needs.

Article Spotlight

View a curated selection of publications with a focus on recruitment science.

Guideline Spotlight

View general guidelines of considerations in recruitment planning.


Why Did We Create It?

This guide is a joint effort of the participant engagement and recruitment specialists at the UNC Health Sciences Library and the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS). As recruitment information is often in the methods or discussion section, it can be difficult to find relevant information by filtering on the article title.

Why Should I Use It?

Every study and every target population is unique and requires a tailored recruitment plan; however, reviewing existing literature and lessons learned is a valuable framework upon which to build your recruitment plan. Maximize the efforts of your study team by designing a recruitment plan that uses an evidence-based approach.

The pre-formatted search results in the PubMed QuickSearch section were created using keywords, MeSH terms, and other expert input to find information in the body of the article to make the search more comprehensive and relevant .

Note that not all articles displayed may fit all needs. The search results are easily customizable by using the instructions provided and/or reviewing the short instructional videos.

Access Information

On Campus Access: Electronic resources are accessible on-campus. Faculty, students and staff must register personal laptops and mobile devices with UNC Chapel Hill ITS.

UNC Hospitals Access: Always use links from Library websites. Onyen log-in is required when you select the first resource. Note: UpToDate is available within EPIC.

Off Campus Access: Always use links from Library websites. Onyen log-in is required when you select the first resource. Most electronic resources are accessible off-campus to students, faculty, and staff, including UNC Hospitals' staff.

Learn about off-campus access IDs.

Report an off-campus access or hospital access problem.

NC TraCS Participant Recruitment Specialist:

Emily Olsson

Emily Olsson, CCRP  | 919-966-6274


Thank you to Jean Blackwell, Carol Breland, Shannon Delaney, Jesse Akman, Stefanie Nutting, Emily Olsson, Francesca Allegri, and Jacqueline Halladay for their help creating this guide.