Ethics consent form

An Ethics Consent Form is not always required for dissertation research at the undergraduate or master's level. It will depend on: (a) whether it is feasible to get informed consent, which varies according to the type of dissertation research you are performing; and (b) the expectations of your supervisor, department and/or university. If you are expected to get written consent, the article sets out the four main components of your Ethics Consent Form, which also acts as an Information Sheet for potential participants.

If you have been given a specific Ethics Consent Form to use by your dissertation supervisor; or one is included in your dissertation guidelines, you should use this. If not, your Ethics Consent Form should consist of four components: (a) background to the research; (b) possible demands on participants; (c) questions about participants? consent; and (d) official bits. Each of these four components is discussed in turn:

Background to the research

You should include the following information:

It may be possible to provide this background within a single paragraph, reducing the time demands on your participants.

Possible demands on participants

You should outline the possible demands on participants associated with taking part in your dissertation research. These include:

You should also explain what you will be doing to minimise these demands (e.g., how you will be protecting participants' identity).

Questions about participants' consent

Your Ethics Consent Form will need to include a number of questions that confirm that respondents:

Some example questions would be:

There are a number of generic questions like these that you can ask, but you may also need to include questions that are specific to your research.

Official bits

The final part of your Ethics Consent Form should include some text confirming that participants acknowledge (a) they have voluntarily agreed to take part in your dissertation research and (b) understand what is required of them (i.e., informed consent).

Finish off the form by providing space for your research participants and you (the researcher) to date and sign the form. You should offer a copy of the Ethics Consent Form to the research participants.