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Informed consent procedures

Research involving human participants should be based on the free and informed consent of the participants themselves, or on that of their guardians/parents (for example, if participants are mentally incapable of providing consent or have not attained the legal age for consent). Informed consent procedures involve informing respondents (orally or in writing) as well as getting their (oral or written) consent.

Depending on the type of research, different ways of obtaining and providing free and informed consent are possible. Informed consent is usually given in written form. If participants cannot read or write, an oral consent may be obtained and either recorded (audio/video taped) or explicated in the presence of a witness. Oral consent is also sufficient if written consent would entail a risk to the participant or the researcher, or if participation is better supported by oral consent than by written consent. There are situations in which informed consent procedures are restricted to informing participants afterwards, to prevent influencing participants during data collection. Clearly, this creates an extra responsibility for the researcher to prevent unfavourable effects for the participants and to guarantee the participants’ anonymity.

To inform participants, informed consent procedures should include information that explains the consequences of participation. It should also include informing participants about the collecting, sharing and archiving of personal data, and (if possible and/or required) the sharing of research results. More information on informed consent procedures, including informing participants about the handling of data, can be found here.

When submitting a research proposal for review by the EACLM, researchers are asked to provide:

  • details on the informed consent procedures (including an overview of the information that will be provided to participants and, if relevant, an informed consent form);
  • details on the procedures and criteria that will be used to identify and/or recruit participants. This is particularly relevant in the case of children, minors and other vulnerable individuals or groups.