Advice on recruiting parents to take part in research


Hello all

Does anyone have advice/suggestions on good places to recruit parents who haven't got degrees? My current sample is not representative because nearly all the participants have been to university. I've been going to schools (I'm recruiting parents with young children) in a variety of socioeconomic areas, but it seems the only interest is coming from those with a degree level education - even in areas of deprivation.

I welcome any suggestions/advice about locations, or other strategies you might have used (posters aren't always that effective it seems)...

Thanks so much.


Could the headteacher put a word for you to the non-degree parents?

Could your interview be done online? If so, try online parenting forums, they'll have some non-degree parents.

You could try sure start centres and children centres, but it's difficult for those parents with young children to get childcare to cover for their time with you.

Best bet would be to recruit through social media, whatsapp and personal contacts.

You may have to do door to door interviewing on a housing estate. The best way would be to have a door keeper, someone who is part of the community who can come with you or put a word in for you.


Thanks Hugh.

Even with staff on board as Surestart centres I have had a very limited response. The door to door things sounds promising. I could at least put leaflets through doors rather than just leaving them in public spaces and getting no response. I wonder if the ethics dept will approve though... I think I'm going to try as it is getting desperate!


I was in the same position with you last year as I had to recruit both children and parents and I ended up having more children than parents. What I did (except from recruiting them in their children's school) was that I visited any community centre, public library (on children's section) that was near my home location in London. I was approaching them in person (however, I had to spend some hours there) explaining them what my experiment was about e.t.c. The majority of them did spend some of their time there to contribute to my study (It was a 15 minutes experiment)! If you are in the UK go and check IntoUniversity organisation (I was working as a volunteer there) that has to do with children of poor, immigrant or dysfunctional families. There, the kids' parents surely do not have a degree.


Or you could try women's refuge centers.


Hi Tudor queen,

Same experience here working in schools with children and parents - only the most educated returned the questionnaire.

If you are working in London, try translating the questionnaire/ flyer? In my schools there were Somali and Turkish minorities and it helped because some parents had difficulties with written English. Ask the headteacher to join parents' evenings. Offer the classroom a reward (like pizza) if they get most of their parents to participate. Good luck.


Thanks so much for taking the time to reply with ideas everyone. Just to give a bit more insight, the criteria are quite specific (children of a certain age, 1-hour home visit required, English-speaking only - it is related to linguistics). I like the idea of rewarding schools. I just wish I could do something, ANYTHING without having to seek ethical approval again. They take SO LONG and time is so precious.

Also, it is just normal everyday participants (!) I am looking for. They don't necessarily need to have experienced a crisis or anything. They may not even be in one of the listed deprived area. Just not degree-level educated. Why don't they want to take part? The ones with degrees are super interested and have been passing on details to all their friends! ) :