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Resources :: Guide :: Vulnerable and risk sensitive participants :: Vulnerable participants :: Potential for coerced consent :: Employees as Participants :: Studies initiated by researcher

Studies Initiated by Researcher

If the study is initiated by the researcher for research purposes, then the researcher will need to follow the following guidelines:

  • Obtain the necessary permission to conduct a study at a workplace.  You may be required to sign confidentiality agreements so that you are legally obligated not to divulge trade secrets, etc. For your protection and your participants’ protection, make sure that you are conducting yourself according to company policy and code.
  • Protect participant confidentiality. As a general rule, it is best to collect the data in such a way that the employee’s supervisor(s) does not know who is participating in the study, nor does the supervisor(s) have access to the employee’s data.  In the “Confidentiality” section of the consent form, inform the participant that his or her supervisor will not know that he or she is a participant in the study and will not have access to the participant’s data.
  • Recruit participants discreetly. In most cases, recruiting participants should also be done discreetly. There may be instances where you will need a supervisor’s permission to contact a participant, and the participant will want to know that their supervisor will allow them to participate.  It may be appropriate for a supervisor to draft a letter or announce your study in a staff meeting; however, the supervisor should not endorse the study or make anyone feel like it is a job requirement to participate.
  • Be conscious of the employee’s time when you ask the employee to participate.  Your study may burden an employee or cause them to lose productivity, which could affect their job.  If your study involves aspects that could be completed at home, consider advising the participant to complete these tasks at home or off the clock. If the participants will be interviewed, it may be appropriate for you to conduct the interview before or after work and in an area away from the workplace. Make sure that the consent form outlines what is required of the participant and that the supervisor is aware of the time required to participate in the study.

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