Recruiting & Incentives

Participant Pool

The Harvard Library Student Feedback list is available to recruit Harvard students for usability testing and online activities. All non-Harvard Library departments must provide the payment or raffle incentive items for participants. The list consists of over 600 students, with both undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard. If you are interested in recruiting participants from the email list, please contact

Email Recruitment

Emailing is the easiest way to recruit participants for your study, but you'll need to make sure to craft your message and subject line carefully in order to entice people to participate in your study.

Guidelines for Student Recruitment Emails & Examples

  • Make the message is friendly and not too formal.
  • Explain, specifically, why their feedback is important for the initiative.
  • Make it as easy as possible for them to sign-up.
  • Provide simple explanations about what the study is, why it is happening, and when it will take place.
  • Organize the message using bolded text headings and bullet points.
  • Avoid large blocks of text.

Example Survey Recruitment Email Message

Subject: Help the library for a chance to win a $30 Amazon card

Body: "We know that many Harvard students have had to change how they do research because of the pandemic. The libraries at Harvard want to know more about how the pandemic has impacted your experience working with library materials. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete.

Complete the survey for your chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card!

(link or button linking to survey in Qualtrics)

Thank you."

Example Tweet or Call-to-Action on an Email Newsletter

“The library wants to hear from students about your experience using materials for your research during the pandemic. Take this survey and be entered to win a $30 Amazon card.”

Guidelines for Faculty Recruitment Emails

  • Consider the school association of the faculty you're recruiting for the study and customize your email message accordingly.
  • Decide which individual would be better to send the email. It may carry more weight coming from someone that faculty are familiar with.
  • Be professional and brief.

In-Person Sign-Ups at Service Desks

Have a sign and sign-up sheet at a service desk to recruit study participants.


MailChimp is a website that allows you to design and distribute emails to large groups of people and lets you track statistics about how many times it is opened, forwarded, etc. MailChimp also has a mobile app for iOS and Android called MailChimp Subscribe which is great for email list signups on tablets or mobile devices at service desks or events to notify users of future events.

Calendly Time Slot Sign-Up Tool

Calendly is an online tool that allows you to create time slots,manage the sign-up process for potential participants, and sends reminders to participants. Great for recruiting remote participants for testing. It offers integrations for Outlook or Google Calendars, Zoom, and more.

On-the-Spot Testing Locations and Events

There are several locations in libraries, dining halls, cafes, and other popular foot traffic areas on campus where you can table for on-the-spot testing for usability tests, online activities, and surveys. List of on-the-spot testing locations and events with contact details (Excel .xls)


Providing a student study participant with a thank-you gift of under $100 does not require any special finance paperwork. Incentives of gift cards or cash (non-tangible personal property) and gifts valued at over $100, such as an iPad in a raffle are considered taxable income. If you have questions about these forms of incentives please reach out to our office.

Ideas for raffle prizes that are under $100

Incentives that have been effective in past in-person studies

  • Harvard swag like umbrellas, water bottles, travel coffee mugs, and notebooks. Smaller items like keychains or lip balm are great for quick, in-person studies.
  • Candy, fruit, donuts, or Kind bars/Luna bars are eye-catching and great for tabling.
  • Personal USB battery packs or charging cables for recharging phones and tablets.