Consent Forms for UX Research

True consent is informed, freely given, and able to be withdrawn.

Letting research participants know what kind of study they’re about to participate in, how you’ll use their data, and how to leave the study if they choose, helps to ensure that your studies are safe, legal, and ethical.

Obtaining (and documenting) participant consent is an important prerequisite for good user research, and should be collected with an informed consent form

I know, I know. Paperwork is the least glamorous component of any research study—but this one is absolutely essential. 

Below you’ll find everything you need to know to nail your next consent form, including:

  • Template for a UX research consent form
  • What consent forms are and why you need them
  • Tips for writing an effective consent form

Here’s a research consent form template created by our VP of User Research (and User Research Yearbook Class of ‘22 member), Roberta Dombrowski. This template was created specifically for moderated research studies, but can easily be adapted for unmoderated studies as well. 

*Note: You probably know this but… I’m not a lawyer, and User Interviews is not here to provide legal advice. The first thing you should do when creating an informed consent form (well, second thing, after reading this article) is to consult your legal team.

Informed consent forms—sometimes also referred to as ‘research participation agreements’—are documents that explain the details of your study, including what data you’ll collect, why you need it, and the rights of participants. These forms should be distributed, reviewed, and signed by participants before you can move forward with the research. 

Consent forms are beneficial because they:

  • Protect the participants’ rights.
  • Provide enough information so that participants understand what’s being asked of them. 
  • Build trust between the researcher and participants.
  • Increase the likelihood that participants will stay through the end of the trial.
  • Improve the consistency and usability of the data collected. 

In most cases where research involves human beings, consent forms are required by law—especially, for example, when doing clinical research or research with minors. However, most researchers consider them a non-negotiable component of an ethical research process regardless. 

Plus, asking for consent and offering transparency around the research process can help you build trust with your participants, demonstrating to them that you actually care about their experience. 

Nope! NDAs protect confidential company information and you don’t always need them. Informed consent protects the participant and you always need them.

You can’t really consent to something if you don’t understand it. If your consent agreement uses industry jargon, legalese, or otherwise hard-to-comprehend language, you’ve missed the point.

A good participant consent form is a deceptively simple document that deserves careful drafting, editing, and review. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  1. Write in plain language that’s easy for the participant to understand, paying attention to participants’ literacy levels, native languages, visual challenges, or other details that might interfere with their ability to comprehend the form. Remember, if your participants can’t understand the document for any reason, then they cannot give informed consent. 
  2. Explain what the study is about, including the purpose of the study, the planned duration, and what participants can expect from the research. Additionally, be sure to inform participants about any potential risks they might face.
  3. Be clear about the types of information you’ll collect, why, and how you’ll use it, including what categories of data will be collected, how it will be shared internally or with third parties (if applicable), and other relevant information. It’s good practice to include a link to your Privacy Policy to provide participants with more information, as well. 
  4. Describe the incentives participants will receive, if any, and what is required to receive the incentive payments, and when they can expect to receive it following the session. For example, if the participant drops out of the study early, they may not be eligible to receive the incentive. (🔌 If you’re not sure what incentives would be reasonable for your study, check out our Incentives Calculator for a data-backed recommendation.) 
  5. Allow the participant to opt in, rather than forcing them to opt out. By only moving forward with participants who explicitly opted in, you can feel more confident that they have given their free and informed consent. ‘Didn’t say no’ ≠ ‘said yes’. 
  6. Make it clear that participants can revoke consent at any time, for any reason. Consent is not a “no take-backsies” situation. Participation in a research study should always be voluntary, freely given, and able to be withdrawn. Let participants know that they can take a break, or remove themselves from the study entirely, if need be.

User Interviews is the fastest, easiest way to recruit and manage participants for any kind of research. Get insights from any niche within our pool of over 1 million participants through Recruit or build and manage your own panel with Research Hub, the first CRM built for researchers, with unparalleled customization, security, and scale. 

🔌 Quick and shameless plug:

If you’re doing research with User Interviews, you can use our Document Signing add-on feature to collect consent forms from both external participants and customer panels. In fact, as far as data consent forms go, we’ll handle that for you with Research Hub. We’ll send you a copy of the signed document before the session, so you can spend less time worrying about the logistics, and more time focusing on the research itself. 

See why 1,700+ teams rely on Research Hub to grow their customer panel and automate research studies.

Read the full article here

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