Research Skills - Northumbria University
Research Skills - Northumbria University
The Recruitment Process.
• Before trying to recruit participants you should:
• Consider research from the point of view of the
participants to eliminate potential risks or ethical
• Obtain the considered approval of external
advisors whenever concluding that harm, unusual
discomfort, or other negative consequences may
follow from research.
• You may have to complete a Risk Assessment
form, or consult a previously prepared RA to
familiarise yourself with the problems that might
arise, and how to address them.
• You should also consult a Standard Operating
procedure (SOP) if one exists, this explains how to
conduct the procedure you will be using.
• You must have obtained ethical approval prior to
How Will You Recruit?
• E-mails (e.g. University distribution lists
– do you have access or authority?).
• Via the web – e.g. Survey Monkey or
recruitment opportunities, or specific
websites (e.g. discussion boards). Issues
of consent here!
• Via posters or advertisements.
• Via word of mouth – snowball
• Via friends and family – is this ethical?
• Via personal recruitment – effective but
Ethics of emails
• Below is an email recently sent around to PSS staff:
• Subject: dissertation questionnaire
• I would appreciate it very much of you could
complete this questionnaire for me for my
dissertation. If you could highlight your answers in a
different colour and return it to this email I would be
grateful. Thanks so much
• What is wrong with this?
Advertising for Participants.
• The Ad should include:
• Name and address of the research facility.
The focus of the research.
A summary of criteria for eligibility to
The time and other commitments that will
The date/time/location of the study and
who to contact for further information.
• The Ad should not:
• Contain explicit or implicit claims that may
not be substantiated.
• Emphasize the amount of reimbursement
that participants may receive.
• Promise a favourable outcome or benefits.
If you are working with individuals aged <16 then you will need to obtain
written consent from the parents/carers.
Such research is normally conducted via schools/clubs etc and the
Headteacher/organizer will also need to give their written permission for
you to contact the parents.
Even if the parents give their consent the children still need to give their
‘assent’ – i.e they have to agree to take part.
This can be problematic if the parents want the children to take part and the
children don’t, or vice versa!
If the individuals are over 16 but still at School then you must still obtain
written permission from the School, and inform the parents that the
research is taking place. Out of courtesy you should still obtain written
The parents may not give their approval, and so this again raises problems if
the individual wants to take part. With small children great anguish can
be caused by testing all of their friends and refusing to let them take part
because their parents hav’n’t consented, or the child has forgotten to
bring the letter back to school! Can you resolve this?
Meeting For the First Time.
Be able to provide identification about who
you are and what you represent – name
badge, headed information sheets etc.
Explain to potential participants what your
research is about and what participation
might entail, they need to be given sufficient
information to decide whether or not to
Refrain from emphasising financial or other
inducements to persuade them to take part.
Make sure that you reassure them that any
information they provide will remain
Reassure them (if possible) that they will not
be asked to do anything embarrassing,
stressful, or dangerous.
The Information Sheet.
• You must ensure that participants are given sufficient
opportunity to understand the nature, purpose, and
possible consequences of their research participation.
• Ask participants about any factors that might lead to their
harm and inform them of any actions they should take to
• Inform participants that they may decline to answer any
• Inform participants of their right to withdraw without
• Avoid intentional deception unless it is necessary to
preserve the integrity of the research.
• Write this using simple language and avoid jargon.
The Consent Form.
• You must obtain written, informed consent
before you begin testing.
• You should also provide a ‘cooling off’ period
to enable the prospective participants to
reconsider their involvement. In practice this is
• The Consent Form should provide a checklist
so that the individual can register that they
understand what is being expected of them.
• If they wish you to send them general
feedback then give them space to leave their
email or address.
• There must be a space for the individual to
sign and date the sheet (or someone who will
consent for them), and a space for the
researcher to sign and date.
• Several signatures may be required depending
upon the type of consent being sought.
• You must keep adequate records of when, how,
and from whom, consent was obtained.
• You should keep the consent forms separate
from the data in a locked storage facility – you
are bound by the Data Protection Act and may
have to produce the sheets at a later date!
• Ensure that where an individual cannot provide
consent, then it should be obtained from
others legally permitted to provide it (e.g.
• Take particular care when seeking informed
consent from individuals who may be
pressured to consent by their environment
(work place, prison, school etc).
• Restrict research based on observations to
those situations in which individuals being
studied would reasonably expect to be
observed by strangers (unless they have
• You must fully debrief participants at the
conclusion of their participation.
• This should be verbal and written.
• This is in order to inform them of the outcomes
and nature of the research, and to provide them
with contact details so that they can
subsequently withdraw their data.
• You should avoid discussing specific outcomes i.e
results of questionnaires, tests etc, if pressed
provide general statements.
The Debrief Sheet.
This must provide:
Details of the project and the investigator.
The code number originally allocated to the participant.
A summary of the aims and expected findings of your research.
A reminder that the participant can withdraw their data.
A reminder that individual feedback will not be provided.
A reminder that the data will be kept confidential.
Information on how the data may be disseminated.
If deception has been used then this must be clearly stated, and why it
was used in the first place.
• Information as to how they can register a complaint if they feel that
ethical guidelines have been broken.
• It is often tempting to simply cut and paste from the information sheet –
try to avoid this!
• It is your obligation to inform participants when
evidence is obtained of a psychological or physical
problem of which they are apparently unaware.
• You should exercise caution when responding to
requests for advice from participants concerning
psychological / physiological / emotional issues.
Refer them to an appropriate group (i.e student
counselling services, a GP).
• Inform people when they might expect to receive
general feedback of results – e.g. a set time from the
finish of testing.