INTRODUCTION: Research participant recruitment is challenging – especially in vulnerable,
stigmatised, high security, poorly demarcated contexts and contexts with diverse and
interchangeable job labelling and poorly centralised reporting infrastructures. Cold case
investigators in South Africa is an example of the latter.
METHOD: Scoping literature review of information behaviour and other disciplines to note
challenges and solutions in research participant recruitment.
ANALYSIS: Brief review of challenges noted in research methodology textbooks and applied
thematic analysis mapped to problems and correlating solutions for research participant
recruitment (various disciplines including information behaviour).
RESULTS: There are many challenges and solutions noted across disciplines including
information behaviour e.g. job confidentiality, poor context demarcation, diverse and
interchangeable job labels for the same context. Solutions reported include exploring related
job/role labels, snowball sampling, non-intrusive social media methods.
CONCLUSION: Based on experience with information search heuristics we suggest an additional
novel approach for information behaviour research (and other) participant recruitment; a
South African cold case investigator information behaviour study serves as exemplar to
demonstrate how search heuristics can be used to identify potential research participants and
solicit referrals for research participant recruitment.