Where possible, written consent should be obtained from research participants. Proforma consent forms are available on the School website for confidential data. Ideally, information about the study should be provided on a separate sheet from the consent form. The Committee will wish to receive a copy of both. You should ensure that, before written consent is given, the proposed participant has been given the opportunity of reading the information sheet and asking questions about the research. For this reason, sufficient time must be provided between the request to take part and the signing of the document, unless there are specific reasons why this cannot be done. Participants’ signatures do not normally need to be witnessed.
In certain cases it may be unnecessary or inappropriate to seek written consent. For example, where you are handing out questionnaires that do not ask probing questions and it is clear from the front sheet what is going to be asked then we can assume that the act of accepting the questionnaire implies consent by the respondent. There may be other situations too where provision of an information sheet would be sufficient. For example, where the research presents no more than minimal risk of harm to participants, involves no procedures for which written consent is normally required outside of the research context, or where oral consent may better protect the interests of the participants. Where written consent is not sought, the researcher must still ensure that the research participants are given sufficient time to read the information about the research, and hold a record demonstrating oral consent.
Appropriate written consent should always be obtained when working with vulnerable groups.