What is ResearchMatch?

ResearchMatch.org logo

ResearchMatch is a national recruitment service funded by the National Institutes of Health that connects researchers with people who are interested in learning more about health-related research studies via a secure website. The University of Missouri is a ResearchMatch member institution. See answers to frequently asked questions from researchers.

MU investigators can utilize this tool to:

  • Recruit volunteers who agree to be contacted.
  • Conduct a feasibility assessment to gauge the availability of volunteers who match the requirements for study eligibility. Because feasibility assessment results are provided in aggregate without individually identifying information, no Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals are required.

Feasibility assessments

To conduct a feasibility assessment, you must:

Researchers can use search criteria to assess the availability of ResearchMatch volunteers who meet study-specific criteria, such as:

  • Geographic factors (distance from institution and state)
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Physical characteristics (height; weight; body mass index, BMI)
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Health status (diagnosed diseases and conditions*)
  • Medication history
  • Twin status

*Absence of diagnoses is also captured for healthy volunteers.

No IRB review or approval is required to obtain feasibility data.

Recruiting research subjects

MU investigators can use ResearchMatch tools to send an IRB-approved recruitment message to eligible individuals and track enrollment statistics.

To use these tools, you must:

  • Be a principal investigator or listed as research personnel on an active research study that has been approved by the IRB. The IRB also must have approved the:
    • Use of ResearchMatch for recruitment.
    • Recruitment message/advertisement that will be submitted to ResearchMatch.

      The IRB submission and approval process is detailed in the Protocol Preparation and Submission Instructions below.
  • Be affiliated with MU.
  • Provide your MU information (e.g., university email address).
  • Create a ResearchMatch account with username and password.
  • Provide an electronic copy of the current IRB approval letter. If the study is IRB-exempt, you must provide documentation of this exemption.

Sending a recruitment message:

  1. Once IRB approval is obtained, researchers enter study details and upload the IRB approval letter (in PDF format) to the ResearchMatch site.

  2. The request will be forwarded to MU’s ResearchMatch institutional liaison for approval.

  3. After IRB approval is verified, the MU researcher will receive notice that access has been granted.

  4. ResearchMatch sends the study recruitment message to matched volunteers to inform them about a new opportunity to participate.

  5. Once individuals respond with permission to be contacted for the study, their personal contact information is made available to the researcher within the secure ResearchMatch system.

To ensure the IRB has the information it requires to review a protocol using ResearchMatch for recruitment, please include the following information within protocol document attached to your initial IRB submission, or submit via a modification if you are adding the use of ResearchMatch to an already IRB-approved study.

Include MU’s ResearchMatch template language in the “Recruitment Methods” section of the protocol or as an addendum to the protocol:

I am requesting the use of ResearchMatch.org as one of the recruitment tools for this protocol.

Basic information regarding this tool:

ResearchMatch.org is a national electronic, web-based recruitment tool that was created through the Clinical & Translational Science Awards Consortium in 2009 and is maintained at Vanderbilt University.

(Vanderbilt maintains the IRB approval for the ResearchMatch database creation and recruitment. Individual requests to use ResearchMatch as a recruitment tool must be submitted to the IRB offices at individual institutions.)

For the IRB submission, the following language may be used to describe ResearchMatch as a recruitment method:

Potential volunteers will be contacted by ResearchMatch via an email message containing IRB-approved recruitment language for this study (not including direct study contact information such as study phone number). Volunteers will then have the option of replying by clicking "yes" or "no" in the contact message. Volunteers who choose to respond in the affirmative will authorize ResearchMatch to release their contact information to the PI (or ResearchMatch designee) who will be responsible for managing that information according to the institutional guidelines.

Contact message

The contact message consists of the language to be used in the email sent by ResearchMatch on your behalf to potential participants. Please note that your contact message must not include your direct study contact information (email or phone) and must not exceed 2,000 characters. If the study involves in-person participation, you may want to include the geographical location of the study site. If you intend to include healthy controls, specify that in your contact message, otherwise, a healthy control volunteer may decline participation.

See examples and tips provided by ResearchMatch:

Registration with ResearchMatch for recruitment access

This recruitment tool will be utilized once the researcher registers for recruitment access through ResearchMatch.org. After registration of basic contact information and details regarding the study, the request will be forwarded to MU’s ResearchMatch institutional liaison for approval. In the process of registering this study in ResearchMatch, the researcher will upload the most current MU IRB approval letter or exemption letter for this protocol.

The ResearchMatch institutional liaisons will verify IRB approval and will set the ResearchMatch expiration date to mirror that of MU's IRB approval.

Search capability

After being granted recruitment access, researchers will search for appropriate matches among the non-identifiable ResearchMatch volunteer profiles in the system. Researchers enter study inclusion/exclusion criteria in the ResearchMatch Search Builder, which will yield a list of potential matches to such criteria. The PI is allowed to search the system for potential subjects using these filters:








Tobacco user y/n

Twin or triplet y/n

Veteran y/n

Parent y/n


Health conditions (such as diabetes, etc.)




​​​​​​The search results show the number of potential subjects meeting the above criteria. (Note: No name, address, phone or email is provided to the PI at this point.)

Contacting ResearchMatch volunteers

The PI then selects from the list subjects who are of interest; the ResearchMatch system electronically sends an email directly to those subjects with the recruitment language approved by the MU IRB.

ResearchMatch will route the study’s approved recruitment content to each of these potential ResearchMatch volunteer matches. Individuals will have the option of replying "yes" or "no" (or to not
respond) through a set of quick links available in the notification.

This message will not include the study team’s direct contact information. By responding, "yes," potential participants have authorized ResearchMatch to release their contact information to the researcher(s) responsible for the study (subject name, phone number, email address). This information will be made available on the researcher’s ResearchMatch study dashboard. The research team is responsible for managing this contact information as part of the IRB-approved data management and confidentiality protection plan detailed later in this protocol.

Access expiration

A researcher’s access to recruit via ResearchMatch will last only as long as the study’s IRB approval. Researchers are required to submit current IRB-approval letters following each continuing review for the lifetime of the study. If an unintentional lapse in approval occurs and researchers are not able to submit continuing review approval to ResearchMatch, their ResearchMatch data will not be deleted, but they will not have access to search the registry for recruitment purposes or contact new volunteers
until they have uploaded a current IRB approval letter, which is once again routed for institutional liaison review.


  • Make sure to include in the protocol your study-specific recruitment wording that will be used for the ResearchMatch system.

  • The MU IRB will review and approve your initial submission or protocol modification once all requested clarifications (if applicable) are addressed.

  • Once the IRB approval is uploaded and MU's liaison verifies the expiration date in the ResearchMatch system, you will be able to move forward with requesting recruitment access in the ResearchMatch site.


Technical assistance

For general questions, contact ResearchMatch.

MU's ResearchMatch institutional liaison is Michele Kennett, associate vice chancellor for research, Division of Research, Innovation & Impact.


Contact us

310 Jesse Hall
Email: muresearchirb@missouri.edu Phone: 573-882-3181 Fax: 844-341-6544