Be ethical with user research
Includes getting user consent, ensuring privacy and keeping information secure.
Getting informed consent
Make sure you have informed consent from research participants. You can use a consent form and back this up by talking them through your research process. This will make sure the person understands how you're going to use what they tell you.
Consent to participate in research must be voluntary and based on sufficient information and adequate understanding of both the proposed research and the implications of participation in it.
Consent forms should state:
- the purpose of the research
- who the research is for
- how you'll conduct it
- how you'll use the research
- how they can make a complaint.
Your participant may have needs or vulnerabilities. Adapt your consent process to the person, so they understand.
Be clear, honest and specific about what you're doing with the research. Tell your participants:
- what data you're collecting,
- how you'll use and protect it
- how long you'll keep it
- how you'll dispose of it.
Be respectful and sensitive when carrying out user research. Cater to any accessibility needs they may have.
Let your participants know about their rights during and after the user research. Tell them if you will come back to them with results of the user research.
Tell them how they can make a complaint, with contact details of an accountable person or entity. If they need to make a complaint, it should be to an entity or person that is independent of the researchers.
Keeping information secure
Be accurate in the way you record information that you gather from your participants. Do not manipulate what your participants tell you.
You should always protect data, privacy and confidentiality. Make sure anyone with access to the data has completed any online privacy training that your agency provides.
Keep the information you collect secure and follow your 'user research plan'. Make your data anonymous by removing any information that could identify a participant. Protect data from unauthorised access and use or from loss.
- National Health and Medical Research Council: National statement on ethical conduct in human research 2007 (updated 2018)
- Australian code for the responsible conduct of research 2018
- Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities
- Open Data Institute: Data ethics canvas
- Information and Privacy Commission NSW: Consent and bundled consent