Researchers are required to provide participants with an informed consent document, so you should have received one. Researchers are required to include specific information on informed consent documents:
(1) A statement that the study involves research, an explanation of the purposes of the research and the expected duration of the subject's participation, a description of the procedures to be followed, and identification of any procedures which are experimental;
(2) A description of any reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts to the subject;
(3) A description of any benefits to the subject or to others which may reasonably be expected from the research;
(4) A disclosure of appropriate alternative procedures or courses of treatment, if any, that might be advantageous to the subject;
(5) A statement describing the extent, if any, to which confidentiality of records identifying the subject will be maintained;
(6) For research involving more than minimal risk, an explanation as to whether any compensation and an explanation as to whether any medical treatments are available if injury occurs and, if so, what they consist of, or where further information may be obtained;
(7) An explanation of whom to contact for answers to pertinent questions about the research and research subjects' rights, and whom to contact in the event of a research-related injury to the subject; and
(8) A statement that participation is voluntary, refusal to participate will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled, and the subject may discontinue participation at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled (45 CFR 46.116).
If the research you took part in consisted of anonymous surveys, the researcher may not have been required to have you sign the document and return it. Research applications do not require a signed informed consent document if the research does not pose greater than minimal risk (equal to the risk involved in performing everyday activities) to participants, a breach in confidentiality would constitute the principle risk to participants, the signed consent form would be the only record linking the participant and the research, and the research does not include any activities that would require signed consent in a non-research context.
For research studies that do not require the informed consent documents to be signed, it is not necessary for researchers to provide hard copies of the informed consent document to potential participants. The researcher may post the document online or send it via email.
At times it is necessary for a researcher to temporarily deceive participants. An example of this would be a project in which providing the complete purpose of the research would serve to discourage participants from taking part or influence how they respond to survey questions.
In these instances, the researcher will create a consent document containing the necessary deception or excluding information along with a debriefing statement that identifies the deceptive aspects of the document and explains the reason for the deception or true nature of the research. The researcher will present the altered consent document to participants prior to their taking part in the study. Once the study has concluded, the researcher will use the debriefing statement to explain the deception or true nature of the research.
Research that qualifies for a deceptive consent document and debriefing statement can pose no greater than minimal risk (equal to the risk involved in performing everyday activities) to participants.
If you have taken part in a research study and would like to submit a complaint, please download and complete the complaint form and submit it to the IRB. You may submit your form via email as an attached document to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to 434-522-0506, or by mail to Institutional Review Board, 1971 University Blvd, Suite 1837, Lynchburg, VA 24515.