Reading Ahead: Figuring out who to talk to

Reading ahead logo with space above

People always ask us, “how do you find the people for your projects?”

Figuring out how to identify appropriate people to interview for a project is all-important. For Reading Ahead, we know we need people who are active readers. What constitutes an “active reader?” We’re defining it as people who read books at least three times a week, in multiple locations. We want people who are engaged in the behavior at a level where they will have lots of experiences from which to draw. We also know that we want to look at how people’s behavior changes/doesn’t change/is supported by/is influenced when reading books in print vs. reading eBooks using a device.

When we have established the criteria for participating in the research, we typically use a specialized recruiting company to find people. We write a screener, which has a series of specific questions to identify people who meet our criteria.

Screener excerpt, Reading Ahead project, 2009

Finding the right people can be quite complex, and for some projects, we’ve written screeners that are more than 10 pages long. If we’re looking for people who do activities X and Y, in locations 1, 2, and 3, but have never done activity Z-well, you get the idea!

In this project, the criteria are simpler, and we’ll be doing our own recruiting. In fact, if you’re in the Bay Area and an avid reader or Kindle user, let us know and maybe we can talk with you!

Update: We put together a representative screener that is formal enough to be given to a recruiting firm, even though we aren’t doing that for Reading Ahead. You can download it here.


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