You should supply prospective participants with as much information as possible to enable them to make an informed choice about their possible involvement. This is informed consent.
It should be clear that participation is voluntary and that any decision not to participate will have no bearing on their academic or other progress in the future. Participants must also have the right to withdraw easily from a project whenever and for whatever reason without explanation or penalty.
All participants have the right to expect that the information supplied by them will be treated as confidential and will be protected as such. They also have the right to expect that their identity will be protected.
It is considered good practice to provide participants with a separate participant information sheet in advance and to allow sufficient time for a decision to be made . Informed consent must be given on a consent form which must be signed by participants before the start of any project. Participants should then be provided with a copy of their signed consent form.
An exception to obtaining a signed consent form can be made for questionnaires completed online. In this case, a statement should be provided on the front page that indicates that the participant is consenting to participate in a study by completing and submitting the questionnaire. The statement should be repeated at the end of the questionnaire before submission takes place.
Although informed consent for a child to participate may have been obtained from a child's parent or guardian, it is good practice also to inform the child fully of the research in a manner appropriate to their age.
There should be statements to cover the following points:
The form will vary according to the particular type of research being undertaken, and other statements may additionally be necessary.
The form should be signed and dated by the participant or the person giving consent on their behalf and should be witnessed by the researcher or a member of the research team.
A copy of the signed form should be provided for the participant and the original should be kept by the researcher.