Documenting consent 2

Documenting consent 2

It is crucial that participation in a research study is not coerced in any way, for example, through offering disproportionate rewards for consenting or indicating disincentives for not consenting. Coercion infringes the human right to autonomy and coerced participation compromises the validity of research data. Investigators should realise that they are often in a position of real or perceived authority or influence over participants. For example, they may be gathering data from their students, employees or clients, from prisoners or from other detained or vulnerable people. This relationship must not be allowed to exert pressure on people to take part in, or remain in, an investigation and the potential for a power relationship to bias the data should be considered. Similarly, where people in positions of power over potential participants, for example school teachers or prison staff, serve as gatekeepers or recruiters for research, the potential for coercion arising from the power relationships should be recognised and steps taken to avoid it. However, it is acceptable, and in many case proper, for reasonable recompense for attendance, travel, other incurred costs and the time and inconvenience of participation to be offered.

Need for renewal of consent:

Where the research needs a substantial commitment of time or repeated data collection sessions, such as in longitudinal studies, it will often be appropriate to seek renewed consent from participants. This also recognises that consent should be an ongoing process and that a fuller appreciation of the research and the nature of participation will often become more apparent to participants during the course of their involvement. Participants should be given contact information for use in the event of any issues arising in the course of the research that cannot be resolved with members of the project team. This contact should be both independent of the project team and in a position to take appropriate action if issues are raised by participants.

Further guidance on ethics is available from your supervisor. Good luck!

These pages have been adapted from the GCU code of good practice in research, the GCU research ethics booklet, and the BPS code of human research ethics.