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Tips for Writing for a Consent Form and Using Templates

  • The title of protocol must match the title on all consent forms.  The title must be relevant, appropriate, and easy to understand. Include the project title on all pages of the consent form.
  • List the page numbers on all pages of the consent form in the standard format: Page 1.
  • Delete all colored text from the final copy of your form.  The colored text is for explanation purposes only.
  • Make sure that the form matches the descriptions in the protocol and vice versa.
  • Include all relevant information in the consent form rather than referring to previous verbal explanations.  The consent form should provide a complete explanation of what the participant is agreeing to do in the study.
  • Be aware of the needs of the participant. Avoid using jargon and acronyms that the participant may not understand; make sure the reading comprehension level is appropriate.
  • Do not use statements that make implicit demands on participants to participate, e.g., "You will enjoy and benefit from participating in this study."
  • Prepare the consent forms in the standard format provided in the template, with all headings addressed. Use the standard language provided on the template where appropriate.
  • Please proofread the consent forms for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Do not use language that revokes a participant’s legal rights.  A consent form is not a legal document.
  • Do not require the participants to sign consent to long statements written in first person, e.g., “I agree to participate in this research study.  I understand that the risks are minimal and that I will receive no benefits.  I know how to withdraw from this study.  I will receive $X in payment for participating.  I understand that if I withdraw from the study before my participation is complete, I will receive prorated payment according to the following schedule . . .  I agree not to hold the researchers liable for any injuries resulting from participation in this study. . .”  DO ask participants to sign consent to a simple agreement statement at the end of the consent form:  “I agree to participate in the research study described above.”

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