Frequently Asked Questions

How do you find twins to participate in your studies?

The majority of our study participants are recruited in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).  The MDHHS uses birth records to identify twins born in Michigan and to determine basic study eligibility based on the twins’ gender and age.  Because birth records are confidential in Michigan, anonymous recruitment packets are mailed directly from the MDHHS to potentially eligible twins/parents of twins with instructions on how to participate or decline participation.  This method ensures that the twins’ identities are not revealed to the Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR), unless the twins or their parents choose to do so.  

For some studies, twins/parents indicate their interest in participation and contact information via pre-stamped postcards or e-mails/calls to the MSUTR project office.  They are then contacted by study staff to confirm their eligibility for the study and to schedule their assessments.  For other studies, the study questionnaire is included with the recruitment packet and only needs to be completed and returned by mail (or completed online) to participate. 

While recruitment through the MDHHS is the most common method, twins also hear about our studies through campus events, twin organizations, our Facebook page, this website, and from other twins who have participated in our studies and then contact the MSUTR directly to inquire about participating.

Why should I participate?

Your participation will aid efforts to better understand various psychological and medical conditions and contribute to treatment and prevention efforts for these conditions (for more information, please see Why Twin Studies?).  Please note, even if you (or your twins) do not have any of the conditions being studied, your participation in this research is still invaluable!  In order to help determine why some people develop certain conditions and others do not, it is essential to compare results from those with and without the conditions being studied.

In addition to the potential benefits to society from your participation, many people have found participation in our research to be both rewarding and fun.  In fact, many participants ask us about other opportunities to get involved!  To show our appreciation, we publish an annual newsletter that is distributed to families who have participated and is also available on this website.  In every newsletter, we share results from our twin studies so you can see how your participation has helped inform current research.

Finally, all of our studies include some monetary compensation for your time and contribution.  Compensatory rates vary by study; check our Current Studies to see which studies are available now!

What does participation involve (what procedures will be done)?

The specific procedures vary by study – some studies only require the completion of a questionnaire on your own time while others involve in-person assessments, typically at the MSUTR labs on MSU’s campus or in your home.  For more details on any or all of our studies, please see the Current Studies page and feel free to contact us!

Are there any risks involved with participation?

Each of our studies has slightly different risks associated with participation, but generally, any risks associated with involvement in our research are minimal.  For example, the risks associated with our mail-in survey, the Michigan Twins Project, are the time taken to complete the survey (approximately 30 minutes) and the possibility that some participants may feel uncomfortable answering questions about themselves or their families. 

All of our studies are reviewed by the MSU Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) Human Research Protection Program to ensure the well-being of participants and to help minimize any risks.  The IRB reviews all study procedures and materials, ensures that all research staff receive regular training in the protection of human participants in research, and requires annual reviews to ensure the standards of ethical research continue to be met.  All studies that collaborate with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for recruitment must also be approved each year by the MDHHS IRB.

Finally, the specific risks for each study are detailed in that study’s IRB-approved consent form so that potential participants can make informed decisions regarding their participation.  If you have questions about a study you are interested in or for which you have received information in the mail, please feel free to contact us for more information.

What are your procedures to maintain privacy and confidentiality?

All private and confidential information given to the MSUTR is protected to the maximum extent allowable by law.  

Research files are stored in locked filing cabinets in locked offices that are only available to staff involved in the research project.  All data are stored using unique identification numbers (ID numbers), with personally-identifiable information removed and stored separately.  Any electronic files containing personally-identifiable information are password-protected and are only accessible using our secure research server, which is also password-protected.

Participants are not specifically identified in any reports about the registry or publication of research results.  Only composite, de-identified data is used for reporting and publication.

For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

How can I participate?

If you would like to participate, please visit the Current Studies page to see if there are any studies for which you (or your twins) may be eligible.  If you find one or more that you are interested in and haven’t yet completed, please contact us by e-mail or phone.  And even if you don’t find one for which you/your twins are currently eligible, please check back often, as new studies frequently become available or recruitment criteria change.

I have participated in your studies in the past – do you have any others I can participate in?

It’s quite possible!  Please check our Current Studies page for details on the studies available.  Also, many studies include or will include a follow-up at a later date, so if you have participated in one of these studies, you are likely eligible to participate in the follow-up.

How can I find results from your studies?

While we cannot give out any individual results, our Research Publications page includes many recent findings from our research and related studies.  Additionally, each of our newsletters highlights a different study result.

How can I update my contact information?

Please contact us at msutr@msu.edu or by calling (517) 432-5604.

How can I receive updates about the MSUTR?

For the most recent information, please check this website.  If you are on Facebook, you can also “like” the MSUTR Facebook page.  You may also want to sign up for our newsletter, which is produced yearly and includes information on our current studies and study results, as well as resources for twins and twin families.

I am interested in working with the MSUTR – where can I find information on current openings?

Undergraduate Assistants
We often hire undergraduate assistants to help with our studies, either on a volunteer basis or for class credit.  Please see the Join Our Research Team page for more information.

Graduate Assistants
Drs. Burt and Klump have openings for new graduate students from time to time.  Please see the Join Our Research Team page for more information.

Staff needs vary by lab and study, and any current openings are listed on the Join Our Research Team page.  Applications must be made using MSU’s employment portal:  https://jobs.msu.edu.