Ethics resources

Resources to assist in performing ethical research, including templates for participant information sheets and consent forms.

Participant information sheet (PIS)

A participant information sheet (PIS) should be prepared for any project involving human participants. You must seek consent to collect data from your participants. Consent must be voluntary, informed, and made by someone who is in the capacity to make such decisions (e.g. not a child). The PIS serves to inform the participant of what they are consenting to, and the below example template should be completed with care. 

Below is a completed example PIS (redacted), which has passed ethics review.

For projects where the participants are children or young adults, you should provide a participant information sheet to the parent/guardian and outline how you will also explain the study to the young participant.  Note that the child PIS should generally be read aloud to the child, rather than given to them to read. The templates below should be used for such projects. These examples include space for additional items such as pictures of researchers, which you might want to change for your study.

Participant consent form

The participant consent form should be completed by all participants consenting to take part in your project. The consent form should only be completed by the participant after they have read the relevant PIS. The relevant fields of the consent form (participant number, project title, principal investigator) should be completed by the researcher collecting the data before the consent form is passed to the participant for completion. Once signed and dated by the participant, it should be counter-signed by the researcher collecting the data. You should adapt the below template to suit your research project (e.g. remove questions related to video recording,  if there is no video recording element to your data collection). 

For projects where the participants are children or young adults, you should obtain consent from the parent/guardian and the child. The parent/guardian should be asked to complete and sign a written consent form, whereas verbal consent may be more appropriate for young children. If written consent can meaningfully be sought from the child participant, then the child participant consent form template should be used. 

Online research participant information sheet (PIS) and consent form

For projects where data collection is done completely online, use the combined PIS and consent form as the first page (or screens) of your survey/ online study. As with in-person data collection, you must always seek consent before collection data from your particpants, and you need to ensure they can review the PIS before completing your online survey. This information sheet template is meant for online survey-like studies or online behavioural tasks and cannot be used for online interviews or for in-person studies.

Data management plan (DMP)

Creating a data management plan (DMP) for your project will help answer questions in your Ethics application. For advice on writing a DMP, see the guide below. You may also wish to consult the Research Data Service pages, in particular the section on Writing a DMP.

Writing a DMP - advice from the Research Data Service

Edinburgh_DMP_template_web (425.74 KB PDF)

The central Research Data Services (RDS) team also has information on working with personal and sensitive data. This includes some general data security principles for such data. 

Information on sensitive data on the RDS website

Risk assessment

If the nature of your research project means there is potential risk to either researchers or participants (e.g. if you are working in contact with participants during the COVID-19 pandemic) you should complete a risk assessment form in line with the advice available via the University's Health and Safety webpages. Your assigned ethics reviewer may request that you complete the general risk assessment form (RA1) if they think your project warrants this kind of risk assessment. You should consider submitting this as part of your supporting documents if you are already aware of the need to assess and mitigate potential risks. 

Risk assessments information and forms from the Health and Safety Department