Be ethical with user research

Minimum you need to do

Be ethical with research. This includes getting a user’s consent, maintaining privacy and keeping information secure. 

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.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research

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. 

Participants’ rights

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. 

Resources 

How to show you’ve met this research ethics need

You will have:

  • stored your participants’ consent forms  

  • consulted your agency’s legal, ethical or privacy team and they approved your approach 

  • de-identified user data to make it anonymous 

  • ensured research is only accessible to people who need it for the purposes set out in the user consent form. 

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