Example answers to application form questions

Basic questions about the study

Recruitment.

2.1D.3b How will you recruit your participants? How many will you aim to recruit?

Adult participants will be recruited via the University’s MyCareerHub, where an announcement will be posted describing the study. An example recruitment posting with similar details to this study is included in the uploads for this application.
Child participants will be recruited from local schools in the Edinburgh area. Information letters send to head teachers (see below) as well as information letters to be sent to parents describing the study are included in the uploads for this application.
We will aim to recruit approximately 50 adult and 50 child participants.

Gatekeepers.

2.1D.3c Does the study involve a ‘gatekeeper’? (e.g., a school head, nursery staff, director of a nursing home or other facility, from whom it is necessary to seek permission before recruitment can begin.)

The study will require permission from the Edinburgh Council, which in turn requires approval under the Disclosure Scotland PVG scheme for each team member involved in running child participants. Once permission to contact local schools has been granted to Edinburgh Council, we will contact head teachers by email. Head teachers who agree to allow children in their school to participant will be given information sheets and parental consent forms to distribute.

What will happen in your study.

2.1D.4a What will your participants be asked to do for you study, and where will you see them/test them?

The study has three parts. In the first part, participants will be asked to read sentences from a computer screen in front of them, and to answer simple questions about these sentences. Their eye-movements will be recorded using a portable eye-tracker. Before beginning this part of the study, the eye-tracker will be fitted to them and calibrated. In the second part of the study, participants will be asked to read aloud sentences that are displayed on the computer. Their responses will be audio recorded. In the third part of the experiment, participants will be asked a series of questions about their exposure to and use of print media, such as books, newspapers, and magazines.
Adults will be tested in a lab at the University of Edinburgh. Child participants will be tested in a quiet room in their school with a teacher in an adjacent room.
The study session will take approximately 30 minutes.

Information sheets.

2.1D.5b Will participants be given an information sheet?

If no, e.g., because the information sheet is part of the consent form:

The information will be provided on the consent form, and a second copy of the consent form will be left with the parent/caregiver.


Access to identifiable data

2.1D.6a What (potentially) identifiable information are you gathering?

For a developmental study:

This study will generate two types of identifiable information: consent forms (with personal information including names, signatures, and date of births), and audio recordings of participants’ voice (anonymous but potentially identifiable, so “identifiable information”).

Or, for a study using Amazon Mechanical Turk:

Participants do not provide names, or identifiable recordings; they do however provide their mTurk worker ID, which can be linked to their identity, and counts as “identifiable information.”

2.1D.6b Will the information include special categories of personal data?

If your study involves collecting any of the following special categories of personal data select ‘Yes’:

●  racial or ethnic origin
●  political opinions
●  religious beliefs
●  trade union membership
●  physical or mental health
●  sexual life or sexual orientation
●  commission of offences or alleged offences
●  genetic data
●   biometric data

2.1D.6b.1 Explain what safeguards e.g. technical or organisational, you have in place for collecting or handling these special categories of personal data, such as:

●  Compliance with the minimisation principle – use only the absolute minimum of personal data required for your purpose
●  Anonymising personal data if you can
●  If you cannot anonymise, wherever possible, pseudoanonymise all personal data
●  Storing the data securely

Following previous research in the field, we will collect information about political opinions from X number of participants. Data will pseudoanonymised and be stored securely during and after data collection. If the special category data identifies a unique individual (e.g., the only member of a speech community of a particular race), we will do everything possible to minimize risk to that individual. We will ensure that the special categories and their levels correspond to ecologically valid categories and levels of the participant population.

2.1D.6b.2 Please indicate how your research is in the public interest.

Given that most projects involving human participants are expected to undergo ethical review, the third option (i.e. “Research Ethics Committee (REC) review (does not have to be a European REC)”) is the default choice for this question.

2.1D.6c Please identify all risks to the privacy of research participants resulting from collection of identifiable data in your study. Then consider and indicate the likelihood of the risks actually manifesting and the severity of harm if the risks actually manifest.

We have been given no further guidance from College as to how to judge these risks, so just use common sense:

2.1D.6d. If you have identified risks which are possible or probable and, if manifest, either significant or severe, please explain in more detail, and identify measures you will take to reduce or eliminate these risks.

During data collection, we will gather personal information (names, emails, date of birth) from participants. Given the nature of the identifiable data, we expect the harm caused if these are accessed by unauthorised parties to be severe. To reduce the likelihood of third parties (parties not involved in the research project) accessing this identifiable information, participants will be assigned a random ID and their ID will be kept separately from any identifiable information on a password-protected file only accessed by the research team.

Only the research team members will have access to consent forms. After data collection, consent forms will be digitised and stored securely on a password protected computer; paper originals will be securely shredded. In case we do share identifiable information with other researchers or the public, participants will be informed that their data – including audio recordings of their speech – will be used for research or teaching purposes, and may be shared with other researchers or with the general public, and they will be given the choice to consent or not to this option.

E.g, for small populations:

[Same as above, and…] Given that participants are drawn from a small population, demographic information presents an extra risk of deanonymization. Demographic information will, therefore, be kept only a more vague, abstract, unidentifiable levels, e.g. generation or decade of birth rather than exact year of birth.

E.g., for mechanical Turk:

Data featuring worker IDs will only be accessible to the research team, and will be replaced with arbitrary character strings when data are shared.

2.1D.6e How will the identifiable data (including consent forms) be stored during the data collection period? What will happen to the data after the data collection period has finished? How will you maintain secure storage of this data? What data formats will you use to ensure long-term usability?

E.g., for an experimental study:

During data collection, consent forms will be stored securely in a locked cabinet by the researcher collecting the data. All other data will be stored locally on a password protected laptop or tablet. Periodically (when internet access is available), the data will be backed up to a secure, encrypted, GDPR-complaint cloud-based storage platform (Dropbox Business and/or the University of Edinburgh’s DataShare service), or on a password-protected encrypted hard-drive accessible only by the research team. After data collection has ended, consent forms will be scanned to pdf and the originals securely shredded. These pdfs along will all other data will be stored on a secure, encrypted cloud-based storage platform which is GDPR-compliant (Dropbox Business and/or the University of Edinburgh’s DataShare service). Anonymous response data may be shared or made publicly available through these services.

E.g, for a child participant study:

I will be the only researcher with access to identifiable information about the participants. Parents are strongly encouraged not to waive the right to anonymity — the option to waive anonymity will not be included on the consent form and it is unlikely that they will ask for it. Anonymous-but-identifiable voice recordings are not likely to be a problem in this case because children’s voices change as they age, and the recordings will no longer resemble the participants by the time the study is complete. After each recording session, consent forms will be scanned to PDF and stored securely on DataShare in a folder that only I have access to. Paper consent forms will be shredded. All files will be uploaded for processing to the same folder on a password protected, encrypted hard-drive accessible only to me. After the data collection period has finished, files will be anonymised, and anonymous files will be shared with other team members via a GDPR-compliant storage platform (Dropbox Business and/or the University of Edinburgh’s DataShare service).

E.g, for a sociolinguistic study in a small community:

I will be the only researcher with access to identifiable information about the participants. During fieldwork, consent forms will be stored securely in a locked suitcase, in a locked hotel room. After each recording session, consent forms will be scanned to PDF and stored securely on DataShare in a folder that only I have access to. Paper consent forms will be shredded. All files will be uploaded for processing to the same folder on a password protected, encrypted hard-drive, accessible only to me. After the data collection period has finished, files will be pseudoanonymised, and those files will be shared with other team members via a DataShare. Audio recordings present a likely breach of confidentiality given the small size of the field site and the familiarity of its members. Audio recordings will therefore never be played to anyone or shared with anyone, aside from short utterances for conference presentations and teaching purposes, which will all take place away from the field site, and which the participant will be asked to provide separate consent to use. The only data shared in publications or online will be quantitative measurements and analyses of recordings.

2.1D.6f  How will the identifiable data be used? Who will have access to them? How will you share them? How will participants be informed about these issues?

E.g., if you’re not planning on sharing any personal/identifiable data with other researchers or making them publicly available:

Identifiable data will only be used at the initial stages of the study, during recruitment and data collection. Identifiable information will be kept separately from participants’ IDs. Only members of the research team will have access to identifiable information. We are not planning on sharing any identifiable information.

E.g., if you are planning on sharing identifiable information:

Identifiable data will be accessed the research team and also be shared with other researchers and the public. Participants will be asked to agree to whether or not they would like their identifiable information to be shared with other researchers or be made publicly available. 


2.1D.6g Will information containing personal and/or identifiable data be transferred to, shared with, supported by, or otherwise available to third parties outside the University? 
If ‘Yes’, please provide additional information explaining how the above will happen.

Identifiable data will be shared with researchers at the University of X. Identifiable data will be transferred via GDPR-compliant storage platform or on a password-protected encrypted hard-drive accessible only by the research team across the two Universities (e.g., Dropbox Business).


2.1D.6h Other than the use by third parties under the section above, will the data be used, accessed or stored away from University premises? 
If ‘Yes’, please provide additional information explaining how the data will be used, accessed or stored away from University premises.

During data collection, consent forms will be stored in a locked cabinet by the researcher collecting the data. All other data will be stored on a GDPR-compliant storage platform or on a password-protected encrypted hard-drive accessible only by the research team (e.g., Dropbox Business).


Access to non-identifiable data.

2.1D.7b Who will have access to non-identifiable data? How will the data be used and how will the participant be informed?

Anonymous non-identifiable data (including eye-tracking data, analyses derived from audio data, and responses to survey questions) will be accessible by the research team. Participants will be informed that their data will be used for research purposes.

Or, for a sociolinguistic interview study:

This project is connected to the larger work of Edinburgh Speaks which is interested in collating all non-identifiable data from speech produced by people living in Edinburgh. The non-identifiable data will therefore be shared widely, with all members of the research team, as well as made available in presentations and publications and the Edinburgh Speaks website. Parents/caregivers and children will be told all of this both before and after the interview is conducted and then again by email or phone call following the interview, with the explicit option given each time to withdraw from the study. (Children cannot technically consent but if they express any reservations about this use of their data their wishes will be honoured.)

Withdrawal.

2.1D.8 Explain how you will allow participants to withdraw from the study after data collection, and specify a date (e.g., two weeks after the date of data collection).

Each participant will have an anonymous code associated with their data and this will be linked to their consent form to allow the researchers to identify data from a participant who later wishes to withdraw from the study. Participants will be informed that they have the option to withdraw by an email or phone call up until a specified date, as detailed in the information sheet.

Coercion.

2.1D.9
 How will you ensure that potential participants do not feel compelled or coerced into taking part? (e.g., if you are recruiting participants from a pool of students in your class.)

Adult participants will reply to recruitment materials on a voluntary basis. Once they arrive in the lab, they will be given an information sheet explaining the study and the fact that they may decline to participate or stop their participation at any time without explanation or consequence.
For child participants, parental consent will be obtained prior to the study date. Before each child begins the study, we will provide a verbal explanation to the child of what they will do in the study, we will explain that they can decline to participate or stop the study at any time if they wish without explanation or consequence. All children will be asked to provide verbal assent before participating.

Additional triggered questions (‘Level 2’)

Vulnerable participants.

2.1E.2 Describe the measures that will be used to recruit, protect, and inform vulnerable participants.

E.g, for children:

Child participants will be recruited only after permission has been granted from the Edinburgh Council and head teachers, and only once parents have provided parental consent. Verbal assent from each child will be sought after a full explanation of the study in simple language they can understand. We will encourage children to ask any questions they have at any time. Both parents and children are informed that children can withdraw from the study at any time.

E.g, for a sociolinguistic interview study:

Children will be recruited through their parents/caregivers. The ethical consent process will take place with both the parent/caregiver present, and even though only the parent/caregiver can sign the forms, the children will all be asked if they assent or not, and their (oral) answer will be recorded. If there is any hint of a possibility that the child is not participating willingly the data collection will cease. An online example of a sociolinguistic corpus will be brought to the interview session to show to children (and their parents/caregivers) as an example of how their data will be used: http://soundsofthecity.arts.gla.ac.uk/resources.html

Potential stress or discomfort.

2.1E.3 If the research could induce and psychological stress or discomfort, state the nature of the risk and what measures will be taken to deal with such problems.

The study materials include short videos, some of which feature scenes of graphic violence or material intended to induce disgust. Participants will all be over the age of 18. In addition, a description of the study is provided in the consent form. This description warns participants about the nature of the videos. The information sheet explains to participants that if they are not comfortable viewing these kinds of scenes, do not wish to take part in the study, or wish to withdraw after beginning the study, they can tell the experimenter at any time.

Sensitive topics.

2.1E.6 If the research involves the investigation of any sensitive topics, give details and outline procedures to be put in place to deal with potential problems.

This study will record participants talking about their own experiences using health-related services. These experiences may include sensitive topics, such as participants’ health problems, or risky behaviour. Participants will all be over the age of 18. In addition, a description of the study is provided in the study information sheet. This description warns participants that they will be discussing health-related issues, however it is their choice what specific experiences to discuss. The information sheet explains to participants that if they are not comfortable discussing these issues, do not wish to take part in the study, or wish to withdraw after beginning the study, they can tell the experimenter at any time. Further, participants are explicitly informed that if they wish to withdraw or redact any portion of their recording, they can tell the experimenter at any time.

Deception.

2.1E.9 Will the true purpose of the research be concealed from the participants? If the purpose will be concealed, explain what information will be concealed and why.

This study will investigate participants’ production of gesture sequences to communicate simple events to a partner. We use a confederate as the partner for study participants in order to investigate how the persistent use of a given gesture order by the confederate influences the gesture order used by the participant.
We will conceal from participants that their communication partner is a confederate. After they have completed the study session, participants will be informed of this.

Example completed applications