Informed Consent: what is it and why its important if you wish to get involved with this study.
Informed consent is a core practice, value and responsibility for all anthropologists conducting research and fieldwork.
Simply put it means: a clear explanation of the research is given to all potential research participants. The research must explain what the research is, what is involved, and what potential impacts could be.*
Getting involved with this study
If you are interested in being part of this study I will discuss informed consent with you. Informed consent will be used for all participants. What the research is about and the methodology of the research will be clearly explained. Participants will be given an optional consent form to read and sign. In cases where participants do not wish, or need to sign a consent form oral consent may be given.
Anonymity and pseudonymity
All participants will be offered the choice to be anonymous and pseudonyms can be used if requested. The difference between anonymity and pseudonymity will be explained. They are not the same. Unless a participant tell me otherwise. I will assume that you wish to remain anonymous.
Reviewing consent, anonymity and pseudonymity
Consent, anonymity and pseudonymity with be regularly reviewed for participants involved in the research for longer periods of time.
It is always acknowledged that consent is an on-going process of understanding and learning for participants. I understand that informed consent can happen overtime and people often wish to change their mind. I will periodically explain and review the research methods, and will share the outputs of the research. For example if participants give consent for their photograph to be taken, whenever practically possible the photographs will be shared with the person photographed. This is useful for both research practice and understanding the process of on-going consent. If you require a consent form, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There may be occasions where group activities might happen (for example a new business ideas workshop). In this scenario I will inform participants of my presence and the purpose of the research, and give participants the change to review any material before it is published.
Photography and Film
I may use photography (and perhaps film) as a data collection methods. However I am aware that it is not only images of people and their faces that might identify them. Context, personal belonging, text in photographs can all lead to a person being identified. As a result I will not use photography for any participants who request anonymity. With participants who want to be named, photography will be shared and review, and consent revisited.
Both myself and UCL take data protection very seriously. Notes taken on paper will be digitally transcribed and stored securely. Digital text files, photos, video that are stored on my laptop (MacBook) will be encrypted with FireVault. My machine is set to log out after 1 minutes inactivity, or if the laptop is shut. If will back up on encrypted USB sticks.
According to the ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists)
Negotiating consent entails communicating information likely to be material to a person's willingness to participate, such as: the purpose(s) of the study and the anticipated consequences of the research; the identity of funders and sponsors; the anticipated uses of the data; possible benefits of the study and harm or discomfort that might affect participants; issues relating to data storage and security; and including limits to the degree of anonymity and confidentiality which may be afforded to informants and subjects. These can be communicated verbally, particularly to those participants with whom the anthropologist has close and continuing relations.
If you are interested in learning more about this research or would like to share some of your digital nomads stories please get in touch.