Seeking Ways to Inform the Uninformed: Improving the Informed Consent Process in Online Social Science Research

Seeking Ways to Inform the Uninformed: Improving the Informed Consent Process in Online Social... Participants often do not read consent forms in social science research. This is not surprising, especially for online studies, given they do not typically offer greater risk than what is encountered in daily life. However, if no one is reading, are participants really informed? This study used previous research to craft experimentally manipulated consent forms utilizing different visual presentations (e.g., greater use of line spacing, bullets, bolding, diagrams). Participants (n = 547) were randomly exposed to one of seven form variations. Results found no significant differences between forms in reading or comprehension. Open-ended questions asked participants why they do not read consent forms and what would influence them to read the forms. Participants most frequently stated forms need to be shorter, and important information needs to be highlighted. We suggest improvements to informed consent forms, including removing much of the information that is constant across forms, and only including unique aspects of studies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics SAGE

Seeking Ways to Inform the Uninformed: Improving the Informed Consent Process in Online Social Science Research

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Publisher
SAGE Publications
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2017
ISSN
1556-2646
eISSN
1556-2654
D.O.I.
10.1177/1556264617738846
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Participants often do not read consent forms in social science research. This is not surprising, especially for online studies, given they do not typically offer greater risk than what is encountered in daily life. However, if no one is reading, are participants really informed? This study used previous research to craft experimentally manipulated consent forms utilizing different visual presentations (e.g., greater use of line spacing, bullets, bolding, diagrams). Participants (n = 547) were randomly exposed to one of seven form variations. Results found no significant differences between forms in reading or comprehension. Open-ended questions asked participants why they do not read consent forms and what would influence them to read the forms. Participants most frequently stated forms need to be shorter, and important information needs to be highlighted. We suggest improvements to informed consent forms, including removing much of the information that is constant across forms, and only including unique aspects of studies.

Journal

Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research EthicsSAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2018

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