Writing the EC1 form and student documentation

When working with human participants, the researcher should bear in mind the following principles:

  • The researcher should minimise the risk of causing harm to the participants, for example, physical harm or mental distress. Topics which may cause distress should only be tackled if a specialised member of staff is involved and an adequate risk assessment is completed. 
  • Participants are volunteering to participate and should be treated with respect and adequately informed about the project. This includes knowing the aim of the research, what they have to do, why their participation is needed, what will happen to the data, and where and how this will be used. Participants are also free to withdraw at any time from the study. Participants’ identity should be protected by anonymisation and data should be handled in accordance with data protection legislation and GCU data protection policies.
  • Some experimental designs require deception, i.e. they depend on the participants being uninformed of the true purpose of the study. If your design requires deception you should justify this fully in your protocol and provide adequate de-briefing.

Important considerations for your ethics application

Consent form(s) and information sheet(s) for participants

Please see guidance for your ethical approval application. 

These forms will be seen by members of the public, and must be written to an acceptable standard of English and include the university logo on the front cover. 

Common problems include: 

  • Poor standard of English
  • Failure to indicate the purpose of the research (for example, to fulfil requirements of degree)
  • Failure to give appropriate contact details for student and supervisor (not home addresses, or personal mobile phone numbers)
  • Failure to clearly indicate the nature of the task required of participants

Questionnaire surveys

Common problems include:

  • Not submitting a draft version of the questionnaire
  • Submission of separate questionnaires in their published format only and not how they will be used in the research study
  • Spelling and grammatical errors

Interview schedules

We want to know what line of questioning you will take with participants, and what topics you will cover (or are likely to arise). 

Common problems: too much or too little detail, a schedule that is not consistent with the stated method of analysis, or with the stated aims of the study.

Email/online recruitment

A clear statement about any intended use of email or the internet to recruit participants or collect data, with a draft of the recruitment email, if appropriate. Note that it is recommended that researchers use a programme such REDCap for any online questionnaires. 

Common problems include: 

  • A recruitment email that is too informal or lacking in detail
  • A procedure that seems to allow the researcher to identify participants from their responses

Gatekeeper/approval permissions

A project will often use a third party to help recruit participants or to provide premises for the study to take place. These third parties are called gatekeepers and will be required to provide confirmatory evidence (for example an email) that they are willing and able to provide the support necessary for the study.

Risk assessment

All projects have to have a completed risk assessment and this forms part of the EC1 application form.

Data Management

The project should also consider adhere to all relevant data protection legislation and GCU policies on data management.