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Panicking over dissertation - can't get participants! watch

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    (TL;DR at bottom)

    I'm looking at the effects of artificial sweeteners on glucose levels and my head of department has told me that I need a minimum of 60 people to test it on.

    What I need from each participant is for them to:
    - fast for 4 hours
    - Have their glucose levels measured every 10 minutes for up to 1 hour after consuming a sugar sweetened, and sweetener sweetened drink (I'm trying to do a pilot study to see if the time and number of measurements can be reduced to make it less off-putting, but I can't get enough people even for the pilot!)
    - be available on two separate days for up to 1 hour.

    I know I'm asking quite a bit from people, particularly since a lot of people have an aversion to needles and I need to use a lancet to take samples, so I spoke to my university and they said I can't offer money as an incentive, but gift cards are okay.

    It should go without saying that as a student, I don't have much money so I obviously can't offer even a £5 gift card for each participant as it would set me back £300 (on top of other smaller expenses I've incurred to get my project running) and I just cannot afford that. So I'm offering a £30 Amazon Gift card as an incentive in the form of a raffle. I'm aware it's not much, but I'd struggle to afford anything beyond £30 and I don't want to promise more and then not be able to afford it later on.

    I've sent an email (via department admins) round to 3 departments in my university (~1000 students in total got the email) explaining my study in brief and asking for volunteers and so far, I've had only 8 people show interest, and only 1 person who's actually agreed to go through with it. The other 7 never replied back after I emailed them with more info

    I posted on my university's forum as well, explaining the £30 gift card offer, explaining I'd be happy to take part in other people's diss studies in exchange and mentioning that I really need participants so could people please ask their friend and classmates as well, and all I got back was one response saying "there's no incentive, hence the low turn out". I feel so frustrated! I'm just getting to the point now where I'm getting completely disheartened. I'm doing everything I can think of to get people and all I get is a complaint that there's no incentive I mean, I know raffles aren't the greatest appeal in the world, but I'd hardly say there "no incentive", I don't think that's a fair comment. I mean, what does he want?! There are people in my class doing studies that need participants and they're offering nothing! I'm making an honest effort to the best extent that I can actually afford to.

    I've spoken to my supervisor and told her the difficulties I'm having and she's stuck for advice. Don't get me wrong, she's lovely an super helpful otherwise, but she's told me straight that there's not a lot else I can do if I can't get the participants due to the nature of my study. I asked if I could maybe look at bacteria and see if I could grow them on plates made out of different artificial sweeteners as I read an article that said gut bacteria are altered by artificial sweeteners but she said it wouldn't work because bacteria will grow on basically anything so I'd just get a whole bunch of bacteria and nothing to discern from it.

    I know it's only early, but I actually think I'm going to fail my final year because of this and I feel like I've hit a wall and can't get past it. It's way too late for me to change my topic. I'd have to think of an idea, find a gap, research it, order the equipment etc. It'd be pushing December if not later by the time I've done that and the entire diss is due in early March. I have 3 modules next semester so trying to cram an entire, brand new dissertation in on top of that would be nigh on impossible.

    I'm just starting to panic and feel like giving up. The stress is getting the better of me (I'm a carer and work part time on top of being a student) and I'm seriously considering asking to drop out this year and go back in September. The only problem here is I failed a year in 2011 so I've already used my gift year from student finance so I doubt it's even an option.

    I don't know what to do.

    TL; DR: I need participants for my dissertation but no one is willing to take part. I've tried offering an incentive I can afford to participants but I'm met with complaints that there's nothing in it for them. My supervisor isn't able to give me any other alternative ideas that stay within my current topic, and it's too late to do a whole new topic. I don't know what to do and I'm panicking.
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    (Original post by Rae18)
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    I know exactly what you mean by getting money from the uni for this kind of thing. I was looking to do a bunch of research with grads in London but couldn't finance the trip or facilities, so had to change my study over the summer vacation.

    I think, from what I've understood in your post, that you definitely need to get these results. Is there no way that you can bring the sample size down or ask for help from the local community? Could you ask the local newspaper to print an article about what you're doing, calling for people to help?

    Not really sure what else to suggest. :erm:
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    Thanks for your reply

    I was told that the absolute minimum number of people I need is 60 so I can't cut the number of people down. I was originally told to aim for 100 people so it's already been cut down as far as it can be.

    Having said that, the newspaper article is a brilliant idea! I'm not sure if I'll be allowed to get people from outside the uni but I'll definitely ask my head of department about it because that would definitely be a good way to get more people. Thanks for the suggestion!
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    If you aren't willing to sacrifice 300 for the sake of your degree there's something wrong! Don't you have any family that could possibly lend you it? Personally I'd do the study for free, but I can understand people not wanting to do it. The £5 gift card is the only thing I can see working, maybe flyers through dorm doors( if that's allowed) sitting in the university social hub(if you have one) with leaflets


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    With all due respect, Richpeasant, it's not that I'm "not willing to sacrifice £300", it's that I LITERALLY cannot afford it. If you're fortunate enough that £300 is petty money to you, then you have my honest admiration and envy because £300 is a hell of a lot of money to me. My only family is my mother. She's a disabled pensioner relying on the state and barely keeping herself afloat financially. I think you're underestimating a little just how much £300 is to some people such as myself.

    I will do the leaflets though so thank you for that suggestion.
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    (Original post by Rae18)
    With all due respect, Richpeasant, it's not that I'm "not willing to sacrifice £300", it's that I LITERALLY cannot afford it. If you're fortunate enough that £300 is petty money to you, then you have my honest admiration and envy because £300 is a hell of a lot of money to me. My only family is my mother. She's a disabled pensioner relying on the state and barely keeping herself afloat financially. I think you're underestimating a little just how much £300 is to some people such as myself.

    I will do the leaflets though so thank you for that suggestion.
    My last answer was with respect just incase you thought I was being arrogant! Can't you get a temp job just to get the money, or is that not an option currently? If you could do the general public then it would be a lot easier, should ask if you could. Does your university have like a magazine or paper with current activities etc that Maybe you could enter a column in? I don't see why so many people are scared of needles! That's probably why you aren't receiving any participants. I'm pretty much all out of suggestions. What about lecturers themselves, I'm sure for their students they would do it? Good luck with however you go about it, if I can think of anything else I'll pop back here and mention it 😁


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    In that case Richpeasant, I do apologise for being off with you. I thought you were being dismissive but I was too quick to get offended. I hope you weren't too offended.

    I already have a part time job (~£200 a month) but my main problem is that I'm a full time carer for my mum and help support her financially. We're moving house next month due to literally no storage space in our current flat (my mum has a mobility scooter, wheelchair and wheeled zimmer frame.) and I've just used all of my student loans for September, as well as part of my wages on letting fees and 3 months rent in advance as we can't get private accommodation any other way because landlords that will accept housing benefit/LHA are getting fewer and fewer. But what that means is because I've used all my loan, I can't now help her out financially with other things like food and bills because the money I have left goes straight in her mobility car (I pay full petrol costs because she needs a car but couldn't afford the petrol) and now I'm short on petrol money. The council has a ridiculous waiting list and a bidding system which basically means that if you don't bid at 12 midnight when they put the new properties on, you basically have no chance of getting a property because too many people have already bid for it. Hence why I'm getting a degree, lol. To try and live a better life than the one I'm currently living :-/

    I will look into getting a second job though. I don't think I'll be able to pull £300 together by December though (the deadline for data collection). And I never thought about a student magazine. I've never seen one but I will definitely make a few enquiries about that. And yeah, I think it's the needle aspect putting people off. Not much I can change about that unfortunately. I just wish I'd picked something simpler for my dissertation now. Oh well. What's done is done, I can only do whatever I can to recruit people.
 
 
 
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