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Data management for students: Informed consent

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is the process by which a researcher discloses appropriate information about the research so that a participant may make a voluntary, informed choice to accept or refuse to cooperate. Informed consent should be given before the start of the research. Gaining informed consent is crucial to meeting your legal and ethical obligations towards participants whilst simultaneously enhancing the value of your research data.

Checklist consent form

When you conduct interviews or use questionnaires, you should provide information about your research, and you need the respondents' permission (consent) for using the information they provide.

In the information and consent form, you are transparent about any risks that might be part of your data collection and explain:

  • ... the purpose of your research;
  • ... why and how you collect personal data. Also, explain that these data will only be used for your research and explain who has access to the data;
  • ... that the anonymous/coded data is stored until you graduate;
  • ... that the respondent can always withdraw his/her consent;

The information and consent form contains the following required elements:

  1. The title of your study.
  2. Confirmation that the information and consent form is read.
  3. Confirmation that there was room for questions from the respondents.
  4. Reminder on the voluntariness of participation. The right to decline to participate and withdraw from the research once participation has begun, without any negative consequences, and without providing any explanation.
  5. In principle, the right to request access to and rectification, erasure, restriction of or object to the processing of the personal data. For more information:
  6. Permission for participation in the study. This permission must be voluntary and unambiguous.
  7. If possible, date, name, and signature of the participant.

The information and consent form is typically used for respondents that are at least 17 years old and mentally competent. When you work with people under 17 or mentally incompetent adults, contact your supervisor or teacher for advice.

Yoda on informed consent