How Do I Request Permission to Conduct Research?

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Prepare consent forms for all research participants.
Prepare consent forms for all research participants. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

When you are conducting research, it is always important to get consent from participants via a consent form. When conducting the research "live" -- such as in a mall setting, have your consent form at-the-ready when you approach prospects. If you are conducting research over the Internet, work with an online research software company that incorporates consent forms into the process. Incorporate "disqualifiers" if you are looking for respondents who match certain demographics such as sex, income or education level.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Paper
  • Pens

Write and develop a consent form that can be printed out for participants to sign. List the full title of the project, name of the researcher, his/her title and the address of the company conducting on the research. Create an overview statement of the project, such as – “You are being invited to participate in a research study about the plans to build a new highway that will lead to downtown …”

Create a list of statements followed by a check box for the respondents to check with a yes or no answer to provide their consent.

Word the first statement: I provide my consent to participate in this poll/survey/interview/questionnaire/focus group. (Follow with a check box).

Word the second statement to confirm that the participant is old enough to participate. Use wording such as: I am of 18 years of age or older.

Word the third statement: I am participating voluntarily and understand that I can stop and withdraw from participating at any time and without having to give a reason.

Use wording for video and/or audio recording permission (especially if you are conducting and recording a focus group), such as: I agree to participate in research that will be video and/or audio recorded.

Use wording for permission to use verbatim quotes from participants such as: I consent for the researcher to anonymously use quotes for publications and research reports.

Use wording to authorize data collection, such as: I understand and agree that my data will remain anonymous and that it may be stored by the company for use in future research.

Create a signature line, allowing space for participants to print their name, date the consent form and sign their name. Store all forms in a binder or folder to be filed and stored away in a safe location in your office.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are screening and incorporating "disqualifiers" based on certain demographic characteristics such as age, income, education or sex, include check boxes for each qualifier on the consent form -- or use a separate form for screening purposes only.
  • If you are conducting the research in a shopping mall or public property, always contact the property manager to get permission well in advance of conducting your research. Ask for a short meeting to describe the research project, where you would like to meet prospective participants, and how long you will need to be at the location. Prepare a short consent letter to this effect for the property manager to sign. File the property manager consent letter along with the consent forms from the research project participants.
  • Ask for a photo ID card if you are conducting research in person and the participant appears to be younger than 18 years of age. Confirm that the name on the consent form matches the name on the ID card and that the spelling is correct.
  • If your research focuses on children or youths under age 18, you will need a separate consent form for parents. It is best to consult a lawyer about the ramifications of conducting research projects that involve children.

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