Guidance on documents for participants
Other sample documents can be found on the protocols page.
Information about a research project for potential participants in the project should normally be given in writing on headed letter paper which bears the name of the University and the name and address of the department to which the principal researcher is attached.
The information should include:
- the name of the study;
- the name(s) and status(es) (e.g. doctoral student) of the researchers carrying out the study and how to contact them;
- the purpose and value of the study;
- why potential participants are being invited to take part in the research ( e.g. because they are residents of a particular place, users of a particular facility, speakers of a particular language);
- what the study will involve for participants (description in lay language of all procedures including purposes, duration, location, frequency etc);
- that potential participants can ask questions about the study before they decide whether to participate;
- that potential participants can choose whether they participate and, if they agree, they may withdraw from the study without penalty at any time by advising the researchers of this decision (if the potential participants are students there should be particular reassurance that there is no academic penalty for non participation or withdrawal);
- that this project has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through, the University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee;
- who will have access to personal data provided, how the data will be stored; and what will happen to the data at the end of the project;
- if applicable, a note to explain that the research will be written up as a student’s thesis and how the personal data included in that thesis will be published and stored (see the ORA website and suggested sample text);
- what benefits (direct or indirect) may accrue to the participants in the study;
- what risks are involved in the study;
- the procedure for raising concerns and making a complaint.
Tone and language
Avoid unnecessary technical language or acronyms. Where you need to use technical terms explain them clearly and simply.
Your tone should be friendly but not overly persuasive. You should not pressurize people into participating. If you offer some direct benefit to participants make clear that you are simply compensating people for their time, so that it does not seem that you are inappropriately offering inducements.
Use the active not the passive voice so that potential participants get the clearest idea of what they will be asked to do.