One of the guiding principles of research ethics is that participants should be fully informed before they consent to participate in a research study. Participant consent should also be freely given.
When planning their research project, OU Researchers need to consider and include the following:
- All potential participants in OU research should be provided with a participant information sheet so they are fully aware of what the study involves.
- All participants should sign a consent form so there is an auditable record of each participant's consent to take part in the research.
- Participant information sheets or consent forms should include principal investigator contact details as well as an alternative contact not directly involved in the research. The alternative contact must be a member of OU staff. Postgraduate research degree students should use their supervisor as their alternative contact. This is important, so participants have an impartial contact if they have any concerns about the way the research project is being conducted.
- It is essential that researchers provide participants with information on how and when they can withdraw from a piece of research. For reasons of practicality it will not be possible to exclude a participant’s data from a data set once it has been de-identified (anonymised) and amalgamated. Therefore, consent forms must specify a date after which it will not be possible for participants to withdraw their consent (e.g. the date by which you anticipate you will have completed your data analysis).
- Participants should be given information about how long their data will be kept and/or when it will be destroyed.
- Participants should be given information about any planned research outputs e.g. reports or publications.
- The Human Research Ethics Committee Information and consent document provides further guidance about obtaining participant consent.
- The Human Research Ethics Committee Guidance notes for gaining informed consent in research with children provide detailed information about obtaining participant consent from children.