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This guide supports UCI’s innovation and entrepreneurship community by connecting users to relevant resources used to conduct research.

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Customer Discovery (Choosing Participants)

What should my sample size be?

  • A sample is a portion of the larger population that you are researching.

  • There isn't one, “standard” sample size that applies to all primary research projects. 

  • A sample size that is too large may present issues regarding time and money, while a sample size that is too small may invalidate your results. 

  • Use your best judgment when determining your sample size.

For more information, see: Chapter 1 of The Handbook for Market Research for Life Sciences Companies.


Who can I ask to participate in my research?  

  • Leveraging your network of friends and family is probably a safe option for starters.  

  • You need to take precautions if you want to ask vulnerable populations to participate in your research. Vulnerable populations include: children, prisoners, pregnant women, cognitively impaired individuals, and students, employees, or faculty. To learn more, visit UCI Office of Research: Vulnerable Populations.


How do I find people to participate in my research?

Customer discovery, or finding people to talk to, can be challenging. Be creative and leverage existing communities of people such as:

  • Professional/trade associations- access to a network of individuals in a particular industry.

  • Listservs - use these email lists to disseminate surveys to a large group or solicit interview subjects.

  • Social media networks (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook Groups) - find people with a particular type of role/job or a shared interest relevant to your research.