MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: How can I write a permission form for volunteers for my scifair project?

Date: Tue Jan 30 15:21:42 2001
Posted By: Bernadette Baca, Health Physicist, Division of Reactor Safety
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 980394023.Me

Writing forms can be a very difficult task. The first thing one needs to consider is the reason or purpose for the form. Is it to obtain consent, permission, or an acknowledgment? Will it be a legal, binding document or is it just for information? Unfortunately each of these have different meanings and legal implications. A "consent" is typically an agreement or approval of what is done or proposed by another. It may or may not be a legal and binding document. It simply may be an informal informational notice providing important and/or necessary information to another individual. An acknowledgment is another form of a potentially "informal" way of communicating important information to others. However, getting an individual's "permission" is a bit more formal and legally binding way to acquire rights to provide, perform, or receive services and/or items from a specified source as well as establish liability for an activity, service and/or item. The best known "permission" slip is one for parental agreement for a school field trip. This document gives certain rights to the school and teacher for children participating in the field trip. It will often specify where, when, and how children will participating in what field trip as well as who is responsible for the transport and emergency care (liability) of the children.

The basic elements to any "consent" or "permission" request are 6 simple words: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How.

1. Who is the responsible party, or maybe say in your case the researcher and/or school? Who will it involve? Who is your study group and who is your control or comparison (if applicable and if it will not jeopardize the study)?

2. What activity or experiment is to be performed or be a participant to? What benefit is there to this activity (often included in experimental or study forms)? What will be done with the information gathered?

3. Where is the activity to be performed or experiment to be conducted, etc?

4. Why are the experiments being undertaken - what question(s) will be answered?

5. When will the study take place and when will results be known?

6. How will the activity or experiment be carried out? And How long will the study or experiment last?

Not only are these 6 words or concepts important for a consent/permission form, they are the basic premise for any well constructed document, especially scientific documents.

Depending on the information/data gathered in a research study, not only can consent/permission forms relay important information about the subject and/or experiment, but it also give rights to an individual to utilize the information, data, pictures, etc in a way they have specified. Not to mention liability. This is important to protect those involved in the study (especially if they do not want the information released for public viewing) and to protect your and others intellectual work.

Constructing a good consent/permission form may take some time in order to develop a simple, concise, and understandable document. Several sites I found with good suggestions and examples are: (okay, but not as good as first two)

You may find additional sites by performing a web search on "Permission Forms" and/or "Consent Forms" for more assistance.

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