Informed Consent

Consent to participate in a survey should be given with a full understanding of the risks, benefits, and facts. To ensure that your respondents understand, inform them of the following:

a. Purpose of the survey. Provide respondents with a brief description of the purpose or overall objective of the survey. This can be as short as one sentence. The nature of your objective may prevent you from disclosing it fully, but be sure to provide some information.

b. Who is conducting the survey. Provide your name, affiliation, and at least one way to contact you. Respondents should know how to contact someone with their questions, concerns, and complaints.

c. Possible risks and benefits. In all cases, potential risks to respondents should be minimized and the benefits must always outweigh the risks. Disclose any potential risks and benefits that could result from participation in your survey.

d. Confidentiality. Inform respondents that all measures will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of their responses. Confidentiality must always be maintained, even if the survey takers are not anonymous.

A survey is anonymous when it is not possible for anyone, including you as the survey developer and administrator, to connect an individual respondent to his or her responses. Ensuring anonymity will help to increase your response rate and the likelihood of honest responses.

Keep in mind, however, that if you wish to send follow-up emails to participants that have not responded to the survey, anonymity may not be possible.

e. How the information will be used. Inform respondents of how you plan to use the information gathered from the survey. Keep this information short and to the point.

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