A research panel is a frequently used means for recruiting participants when conducting research consisting of studying the same group of opted-in participants through various methods and stages that are developed as part of a research effort. This page walks through a self-service process to create and manage panels.
Recruiting participants for research with niche topics can take a lot of time and effort to find. Frequency, subject-matter, scope, and scale are all areas of consideration as to when a panel may be needed. If you have a need for a larger group surrounding a certain niche criteria focusing on an issue (that will contain multiple research studies) over a longer period of time, this would be a time to consider using a panel. For example, larger enterprise users or users that are on Ultimate that have experience using a SAST tool and a role that involves using security tools or practices.
It is also important to consider the various pros and cons when utilizing a panel:
Initially, answering the following questions will help determine whether a panel is the right solution for your project.
Why do you need a panel?
Before creating a panel, you will need to establish a Panel DRI. This person is responsible for steps within the creation of the panel, communicating with participants, and panel management and tracking.
To create a panel, follow the steps below. If you have any questions, please contact a UX Research Operations Coordinator to assist you.
After you have established your panel, follow these steps to utilize panel participants.
As you use your panel, you will need to continually manage and track panelist information and engagement. Refer to the Panel management and tracking section.
One goal of a panel is to keep participants engaged and not to incur fatigue from over communication to where they no longer want to participate. Below are some guidelines on how to communicate with your panel:
Once you have surveyed and compiled the list of participants that you will include in your research effort, you will be required to track all panelist activity related to communications, participation, and incentives.
To manage your panel, use the Panel Tracking & Reimbursement Template. This spreadsheet will encompass all information surrounding each panelist, their activities, and the reimbursements they receive while the panel is active.
How to use the spreadsheet:
There are three individual sheets in the tracker spreadsheet.
To avoid exceeding a total $600 gratuity per year per participant, a panelist may only participate in four 60-minute sessions per fiscal year. Once a panelist has reached four 60-minute sessions per calendar-year limit, they are no longer eligible to participate in studies. Remove the panelist from the panel and communicate to them that they are no longer eligible.
To keep the Panel Tracking & Reimbursement Template in a secure location, you will need to store your sheet in the Research Panels folder in the UX Research Google Shared Drive. Share settings should be restricted to the team members that need the required access.
When managing panels, you are responsible for protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Typically, this is done by Research Operations, but when teams are self-creating their own panels, they are responsible for managing the participants and their associated PII. Review best practices for data that is classified as ORANGE, and familiarize yourself with this overview of PII.
Always follow these best practices for handling PII within panels:
Do not collect data just to have it available for a non-specific purpose. For example, do not collect "time in a role" if role tenure is not relevant to the research effort.
Here is an example of a panel used by Verify and Package. The team created this issue to draft a common screener for a panel that they could use across multiple studies to expedite recruitment efforts. In this scenario, the goal was to pool resources for user profiles that are hard to find.
Researchers outlined the following aspects to build upon this issue: