Oral consent for distal interviews

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: ethics, research tools | Comments Off on Oral consent for distal interviews

One thing that I’m interested in learning more about are the rules and expectations regarding informed consent at universities and organizations outside the United States.  Obtaining informed consent for interviews is a must when you are doing research at a U.S. American university, whether you are a student or a faculty member.  U.S. American universities also have official Human Subjects Committees that vet your project and grant you permission to proceed.

As I’ve blogged about before, I’ve had to conduct distal interviews for several of my projects.  Obtaining informed consent when you don’t get to meet your interviewees face-to-face is not difficult, and can be done orally.  Today I’m posting the approved script for getting oral informed consent that I used on my latest project.  This might come in handy if you need to prepare a similar script for your own university’s HS Committee:

Oral Consent Script for Recorded Phone or Skype Interviews

Hello, this is (your name), the researcher from the department of ( ) at (University ABC).  Thank you for scheduling this call with me.

As you know from the email you received, I want to better understand (topic of research). I am interviewing people who ( ).  I hope the results of this study will help us ( ). You may not directly benefit from taking part in this research study.

If you choose to be in this study, I would like to interview you about ( ). The interview will last about XX minutes and will focus on ( ).  For example, I will ask you about A, B, and C.  You do not have to answer every question.

Some people feel that providing information for research is an invasion of privacy.

Taking part in this study is voluntary. You can stop at any time.  I will audio-record the interview with your permission.  I will transcribe (write down the words from) the interview and destroy the recording by (date). [Here you should describe what you’ll be doing with the data, how you’ll protect each person’s identity, whether or not the data will be anonymous, how the data will be stored, etc.]

Do you have any questions?

Do you give your permission for me to interview you?

May I record the interview?

If you have questions later, you can reach me at by phone at ( ); on Skype at ( ); or by email at ( ). Although I keep Skype messages and e-mails private, I cannot guarantee the confidentiality of information sent online through those channels.