There are many potential pitfalls in the identification and enlistment of suitable candidates for psychiatric research. The challenges of recruitment are highlighted, detailing impact of study design, characteristics of participants, including demographics and personal preferences, investigator characteristics and collaboration with clinicians. Techniques used in recruitment are discussed, including financial incentives, assertive tracking and communication methods. Ethical issues, methods of data collection, and control participants are also considered. Key issues are: early consideration of the impact of study design on the recruitment process; the participant's perspective; close collaboration with colleagues; the investigator's good interpersonal, communication and organisational skills; and feedback to collaborators, associated clinicians and participants.