Frequently Asked Questions

We know getting started with research participation can bring up a lot of questions. If you don't see the question you're looking for, reach out to us!

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I’m interested in a study. How do I get in contact with a researcher?

If you are a registered user, click the “I’m interested” button on the Study Listing page. This will send an email to the study team letting them know you would like to be contacted about the study. If you are not registered, or if you would like to reach out to the study team yourself, you can use the included contact information on the Study Listing page to do so.

I am not a good fit for any of the listed studies. How often are studies posted?

New studies are posted daily, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, be sure to keep checking back! By creating an account, we can notify you when a study is listed that fits your preferences.

I am looking for a specific study. How do I find it?

You can search for specific studies using the “Specific Filters” section on the search page. If you have the IRB number, Principal Investigator name, or other study-specific information, you can enter them there.

I don’t have a specific condition; can I still participate in research?

Of course! Many studies are looking for healthy volunteers as well as people with specific conditions.

I said I was interested in a study, but I’ve decided I’m not interested anymore. What should I do?

That’s okay! It is always up to you to decide to participate in a research study. If the study team reaches out, just let them know you have changed your mind.

When will I hear back from a study team?

We ask study teams to respond to your interest within 24 hours, if possible. If you have not heard back from a team after 5 business days, feel free to reach out again.

Why can't I contact a study team for some studies?

Some research teams are only looking for very specific participants. Sometimes, teams are looking for participants who have previously taken part in another study, or they would like a doctor to refer participants. In order to show you all the research happening at UNC, we list these studies even though you are not able to contact the study team.

Here are the Availability options you are able to choose from when you search for studies:

Open – These studies are looking for participants right now; you can see study details and contact the study team if you are interested.
Coming Soon – These studies will be looking for participants soon but aren’t quite ready for you to contact them yet. They should change to “open” within the next 2 months. Keep checking back if you’re interested in one of these.
Not currently enrolling – These studies are not able to take new participants right now. The study might be full, or it might just be a temporary pause on new participants while they focus on other important study activities.
By physician referral or invitation only – These studies are looking for very specific participants and a person can only join the study if invited or if their doctor refers them to it. We include these studies on the site so that you can see everything happening at UNC and learn about what we’re doing, but you won’t be able to contact the study team about participating.


About Research

What is clinical research?

Clinical research tests the safety and effectiveness of treatments, devices, and health practices. Through clinical research, we can get a better understanding of how humans respond to new clinical practices so we are more informed to treat patients in the future.

Types of clinical research studies range from basic to complex. Basic studies may only need people to answer questions or fill out diaries. Complex studies may ask volunteers use a device that has never been tested before or to stay in the hospital while they take a certain medicine. All studies are guided by the same basic principle: to understand and improve human health.

Who leads research studies?

The person or people who lead research studies are called Principal Investigators (PIs). Some are clinicians such as physicians, nurses, physical therapists, dentists or pharmacists. They take care of patients in their clinics in addition to finding new ways to improve the care they provide. Others complete training as scientists such as chemists, biologists and engineers. They work on developing new drugs and devices that they hope one day will save a life. Still others focus on the health of the public as a whole, studying the environment people live in and how it affects disease and wellness. All researchers have one thing in common – they want to contribute to a healthier future for everyone!

Who reviews and approves studies?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews and approves studies conducted at UNC.

What is the IRB?

The Institutional Review Board, or IRB, is a committee of concerned people from the medical, scientific and local community that review all research conducted at UNC before it begins and on a regular basis. A research study cannot be conducted at UNC if the IRB does not review and approve it. The United States government has rules and regulations that the IRB must follow.

The IRB makes sure that the rules set up by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration are followed. All research listed on Research for Me is IRB approved.

More information about the IRB and volunteer rights and protections can be found at:

What is a study team? Who works on the study team?

There are a number of members of a study team. Some key players include the Principal Investigator (PI), who oversees the research and the study coordinator(s) who oversee the day to day operations and activities of the study.

What is a Healthy Volunteer?

Researchers need volunteers who are generally healthy to compare with persons who have a condition or disease. Healthy volunteers who don’t have the condition or disease receive the same treatment as people who do have it. Volunteers are often paid for their participation. If you are in generally good health, you may qualify as a volunteer for one of these studies.

Will I be paid for participating in a study?

It depends!  There are different incentives for different studies.  Some studies are longer and require many visits, so they may have a larger incentive.  Sometimes, the incentive isn’t money.  For example, an exercise study might involve free personal training. Other studies, like short online surveys, don’t always offer an incentive, but researchers are always grateful for the volunteers that participate.

Will my information be private?

All of the information researchers collect from you during a study is kept confidential.  Usually, researchers will assign you an ID number at the beginning of the study and use this on all documents, data, and specimens, instead of your personal information.  This means anything from your name to your medical information is protected. Only certain members of the study team can view it. 

What questions should I ask before I agree to participate in a study?

Study teams are happy to answer any questions you have at any point in the study. Click here for a list of good questions to ask when you are considering participating.

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is a document given to you before you begin participating in a clinical trial or research study. This document gives a summary of the study, explains what you will be asked to do as a participant, and explains the benefits and risks of participating. You may revoke consent at any time.

I have questions about a study I’m participating in. Who should I contact?

Your informed consent should have the contact information of the study team member you should reach out to.

What will I be asked to do if I agree to participate?

The answer to this question is different for every study. In the Research for Me study listing, check the “What will be asked of you” section for more information about the studies you are interested in. If you reach out to a study team, the informed consent for the study will have additional information about study activities.

What happens if the medication I am taking for a study makes me sick?

Study doctors closely monitor the health of research participants through labs and other tests.  They look at all the data from all the participants to make sure that the drug isn’t causing any unexpected issues.  If you have a problem with the medication, the study doctor may choose to end your participation to keep you safe.

I’m in a clinical trial for a new drug. How will I know if I’m getting the drug or the placebo?

You won’t! Placebo is an important part of drug research that lets researchers test if the drug is more helpful than nothing at all.  In order for the test to work, the participant can’t know what they’re getting.  Sometimes, you might know the answer at the end of the study.  Even if you get the placebo, your participation is so important to helping researchers find new and better treatments for diseases.

What protections do I have as a research participant?

The Participant Bill of Rights outlines the protections you have as a research participant. 

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Copyright © 2013-2022 The NC TraCS Institute, the integrated home of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at UNC-CH.  This website is made possible by CTSA Grant UL1TR002489 and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.


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