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What should a consent form for a linguistic acceptability judgement task look like?

A question that I've been getting a few times is what a consent form for an acceptability judgement task should look like. For those who are in a rush, you can find one of my forms from a previous project here: [html link]. The form had been approved by CUREC, the ethics committee at University of Oxford; it's fair to say that through their input, this form got a lot better.

So, what should go onto a consent form? First, put some instructions there ("read carefully, print for your records"). You also want to include the researcher's name, title, contact details, their address, and their (preliminary) project title. If the project title gives away too much, take a more generic project description without being dishonest. For instance, "Word order in German subclauses with 'weil'" might give away too much; instead, "Investigating German subclauses" might be better.

If you need approval by a research or ethics committee, take care of that early on. It can take weeks before you get a green light. Once you have it, do mention it to your participants: It will help to establish trust. Also mention that participants take part at their own discretion and -really important- that they are free to abort the experiment at any time, without the need to give reasons. Give a summary of expected risks (probably none) and tell subjects what to do if they are concerned about something. You might also want to add a few words about confidentiality, anonymity, etc.

I typically end on an estimate of duration and remind participants about agreed payment. Finally, you need something like an "accept" button.



tsj; originally posted on 8 Mar 2017
last modified: 17 Feb 2018