CREATE & MANAGE DATA
CONSENT & ETHICS
CONSENT / CONSENT FORMS
Typically, written consent documentation includes an information sheet and a consent form signed by the participant. This division allows the background information to be as detailed as necessary, while keeping the signature form short and concise.
An information sheet should cover the following topics:
- purpose of the research
- what is involved in participating
- benefits and risks
- terms for withdrawal:
- participants have a right to withdraw at any time without prejudice and without providing a reason
- thought should be given to what will happen to existing, already provided, data in the event of withdrawal
- usage of the data:
- during research
- storage, archiving, sharing and re-use of data
- strategies for assuring ethical use of the data:
- procedures for maintaining confidentiality
- anonymising data where necessary, especially in relation to data archiving
- details of the research:
- funding source
- sponsoring institution
- name of project
- contact details for researchers
- how to file a complaint
We do not provide a general template because information sheets are project specific, but provide an example from an ESRC research project and our own example of background information that can be given to participants to explain what archiving their data means. Feel free to tailor these to your own needs while remembering to ensure you use appropriate language or images according to the specific targeted social group or age group.
The consent form should be written in plain language free from jargon. It should allow the participant to clearly respond to each of these points:
- the participant has read and understood information about the project
- the participant has been given the opportunity to ask questions
- the participant voluntarily agrees to participate in the project
- the participant understands that he or she can withdraw at any time without giving reasons and without penalty
- procedures regarding confidentiality are explained (use of names, pseudonyms, anonymisation of data, etc.)
- separate terms of consent for interviews, audio, video or other forms of data collection
- use of the data in research, publications, sharing and archiving are explained
- signatures and dates of signing for the participant and the researcher
The participant should be given a copy of the form and the researcher should retain the signed original.
The following examples are based on consent forms that have been used in previously conducted research and are highlighted here to indicate key strengths and weaknesses of any approach. They have been rewritten to illustrate best practice as well as common errors or omissions. We are grateful to the contributors for allowing us to use their forms in this way. We have provided commentary to illustrate areas that should be considered when designing your consent agreements or forms.
UK DATA ARCHIVE MODEL CONSENT FORM
This form was developed at the UK Data Archive to provide researchers with a consent form that meets all requirements for depositing data and other materials at the Archive. It is a good starting point for most projects. We strongly recommend using it, or at least the questions relevant to data sharing, for any research project where data will be archived.
RESEARCH PROJECT GATHERING TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS
This form was developed for the ESRC/AHRC funded project 'Banking on Housing; Spending the Home'. Our thanks to Susan J. Smith, Nicole Cook and Beverley A. Searle for making it available.
INTERVIEWS IN THE WORKPLACE
This form was developed for the ESRC funded project 'Relocalisation and Alternative Food Networks: A Comparision of Two Regions'. Our thanks to Brian Ilbery, J.K. Little, M. Kneafsey, and Andrew Gilg for making it available.
PARTICIPATION OF CHILDREN
This form was developed for the ESRC funded project 'Grandparents and Teen Grandchildren: Exploring Intergenerational Relationships'. Our thanks to Malcolm Hill, Sarah Cunningham-Burley, and H. Sweeting for making it available.
DIARIES - TRANSCRIBED INTERVIEWS
This form was developed for the Department of Health funded project 'The Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 FMD Epidemic in North Cumbria'. Our thanks to Maggie Mort, Ian Convery, Josephine Baxter, and Cathy Bailey for making it available.