All prospective participants must have the opportunity to give informed consent before entering a research project (see TCPS2(2018) Chapter 3); however, a signed consent form is not always necessary (TCPS2(2018) Articles 3.12 and 10.2). In most instances of survey research that is of minimal risk, completion of the questionnaire or survey instrument will be accepted by the REB as evidence of consent to participate.
- Telephone or ‘on the spot’ surveys: the person conducting the survey should verbally give prospective subjects an outline of the study and what participation entails. Provide a script of how you will deliver the consent information for ethics review.
- Hard-copy surveys: the cover page should consist of an information letter and a statement that by filling out and returning the survey, the participant gives their informed consent. Participants should be encouraged to tear off the cover page and retain it for their records.
- E-surveys: the first window of the survey should consist of an information statement and a statement such as “By entering the survey, I indicate that I have read the information provided and agree to participate.” A print buttons should be provided and participants should be encouraged to print a copy or save a pdf of the consent information for their records.
As applicable to your research design, a recruitment script, information letter or contents of the first survey window containing the required information must be submitted with the protocol when the proposal is submitted for review.
REFER TO THE GUIDELINE ON CONSENT FOR GUIDANCE ON WHAT TO INCLUDE IN INFORMATION/CONSENT DOCUMENTS.