SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
January 5, 2021
Getting the required legal documents signed can be a real pain. Here are the tools, templates, and tips to make forms easier.
Informed consent forms (ICFs) help to ensure that both you and your participants are on the same page about how you will use their data. They explain what data you will collect, why you need it, and that research participants can withdraw consent at any time. Informed consent forms are written in plain language that is easy for both you and the participant to understand.
Here’s an example of an informed consent form for research, from Dr. David Travis—
There’s really just one big reason to have your research participants sign an NDA—to keep sensitive information secret. For example, if you’re researching a new product at a large enterprise company, it may not be prudent for anyone to know about your work before the product is publicly released.
Informed consent forms are absolutely necessary for researchers who need to comply with GDPR regulation. We wrote a detailed guide to GDPR, including informed consent forms, which can help you understand this topic in depth. To create a GDPR-compliant informed consent form, you must:
Even if you don’t need to comply with GDPR, many researchers consider informed consent forms part of an ethical research process.
Informed consent forms make it clear to participants how you’ll use their data and why you need access to it, which allows them to make an educated decision about whether or not they want to participate. It also helps them to understand what participating in research involves, like a recording of their session being shared with people who were not present for the research.
Ideally, you’ll have your participants sign an NDA or informed consent form (or both) before the actual research session. This way, you don’t have extra tasks to complete during the session, or have worry about a participant not signing the documents and pulling out of your research last minute.
If you’re doing research with User Interviews, you can use our Document Signing add-on feature to allow participants to sign your documents before they are added to your interview calendar. We’ll send you a copy of the signed document before their session, so you can spend less time working about the logistics, and more time focusing on the research itself.
We also provide informed consent forms for those conducting research with their own customers through Research Hub. These opt-in forms are sent to all users as they sign up for your panel, as well as any users who apply for one of your studies if they have not provided consent. If you change your form, participants will need to opt-in again before participating in further research.
If you prefer to take care of signature collection on your own, you can send your forms to participants beforehand and ask them to bring a signed copy to the session. While some researchers have participants sign their consent forms in the beginning of the session itself, we advise against this since it doesn’t give participants time to fully understand and review the document. Sending forms ahead of time gives your participants time to review and become comfortable with the document they are signing and also saves precious research time.
There are lots of ways to get your users to sign NDAs or informed consent forms before your research session. If your company requires NDAs and informed consent for more than just research sessions, it’s possible you already have access to a document signing service, so be sure to ask around! If you don't, here are some tools you can use to get your NDAs and informed consent forms signed.
No surprise here. We’re our own favorite way to streamline document signing and participant opt-in forms. We’ll add your documents directly to the research recruitment process, so you don’t have to worry about any of the logistics. User Interviews offers Document Signing for recruiting from our participant audience or yours and opt-in forms for recruiting from your own panel.
DocuSign is a popular online document signing service with robust enterprise features. It has both monthly and annual plans for different use cases and team sizes. It offers support for over 43 languages if you’re conducting business internationally, and integrations to make DocuSign work with your workflow.
SignEasy is another popular online document signing service. It offers signing links that you can send to participants or even embed in your webpage to gather signatures quickly. You’ll need to upgrade to their highest plan for enterprise features.
DocHub allows users to not only sign documents, but also to edit and fill PDF documents. It’s integrated with Google, so for some users it may be easy to use directly from their Google Drive. DocHub has a better free plan than some of other services we mentioned, allowing anyone to gather 5 free signatures a month.
If you just need participants to sign an informed consent form before your study, you can consider collecting opt-ins through Google Forms. This simple and free form builder allows you to add text and checkboxes to explain data collection and allow participants to opt in to each action.
Once you’ve gathered your NDAs or informed consent forms for research, you’ll need to store them in a secure and organized way that makes it possible to access them later.
Remember that bit about participants being able to revoke their informed consent at any time? That means they can rescind it after the session as well. Per GDPR, you must offer your participants a way to ask for their data to be removed from your database, including the signed consent form. To comply with that request, you’ll need to be able to quickly and efficiently locate the right form again.
If you needed a kick in the pants to get your research more organized, consider this your sign. Creating a standardized way to organize all your research data, not just documents, is key to maintaining your both sanity and compliance.
Dr. David Travis of UserFocus recommends starting by cleaning up your naming conventions. Establish clear rules that everyone in your organization follows when naming research documents, like “Participant A - Pricing Usability Test - 12/22/20”.
You’ll likely want to consult with your legal team on the details, but this NDA template from PlaybookUX is a great jumping off point if you need an NDA for your research, but aren’t sure where to start.
Here are a few informed consent templates to help you get started on your own.Remember that whichever template you choose, your ICF should be written in clear and unambiguous language (no jargon or legalese).
There you have it! Everything you need to know to get started with NDAs and informed consent forms for research. Remember to allow your participants to review any documents before your session, write informed consent forms in plain language, and establish naming conventions when storing your documents.
Make collecting signatures easier with User Interviews. We’ll help you automate informed consent form collection when recruiting from your own panel (when you recruit from our participant pool, you don’t even need to sweat the ICFs–we’ll take care of permissions for you) and simplify the NDA process with our Document Signing add-on.
Sign up for User Interviews today and get 3 free participants for your first research project.
Carrie Boyd is a UXR content wiz, formerly at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.