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Common Mistakes

Lack of Parental Permission Forms, Child Consent Forms, and Assent Script/Procedure

When children are involved, both parental permission and children's consent forms are required. For children under age 12, an oral assent script & procedure (rather than written consent) is necessary.

Missing Exempt Request Justification

Requests to have proposals classified as Exempt must include a justification detailing which category of exemption is being claimed and why the researcher believes the activity falls into this category. Read the Exempt Status section for details.

Inappropriate Referrals to Other Documents

The Application for Review must be complete and include all requested information. Do not include statements such as, "Refer to Research Proposal," or "See NSF proposal."

Complicated or Technical Language

The language in the recruitment materials and consent forms should be age appropriate but not above a 10th grade level (circumstances frequently dictate a lower level). Do not use technical language or terms specific to a discipline. If the consent forms may be best understood in another language, that version must be submitted along with an English translation.

Lack of Investigator Identifiers

The name and status of the investigator, and the University, school, and department identifiers should be in the consent forms, along with the address and telephone number where the researcher can be reached. If the project has a faculty sponsor, identifiers and contact information should be provided for the faculty sponsor. Investigators should be identified in recruitment materials, consent forms, and permission forms.

Overstatement of Possible Benefits

In most research, expected results are tenuous at best. If no direct benefits to the subjects due to participation are foreseen, it is appropriate to state this. Payments or course credit are not benefits; they are incentives and should be listed separately from benefits and risks.

Insufficient Explanation of Confidentiality Protection and Its Limits

Methods for maintaining confidentiality of the data (e.g., coding procedures, who has access to the files, how long the data will be kept, etc) should be described in detail in the Application for Review. There are further limits to confidentiality when others may directly know the identity of participating individuals (group interviews or focus groups, etc).

Inappropriate Guarantees of Anonymity

If there is any possibility of linking the information from or about a subject with the subject's identity, then anonymity cannot be promised.

Failure to Explain Impact of Non-Participation

When treatment or services are involved, an affirmation should be included indicating that a decision not to participate will not affect the availability of services to which the individual is entitled. When students are involved, an affirmation should be included indicating that non-participation will not affect grades or academic standing.

Lack of Taping Statement

When video or audio taping is involved, a subject must be told that they may review the completed tape and ask that any or all parts in which they appear or are heard may be destroyed. Parental permission forms should not offer the parent(s) access to their child's tape.

Failure to Obtain Permission from Cooperating Institutions

When cooperating institutions are involved, a letter from an institutional official authorized to give permission should be included. In the case of other universities or medical/dental schools, the approval from their Institutional Review Board must be obtained and submitted to the Committee.

Absence of Translations

Translations of recruitment materials, consent forms, and permission forms into the native language may be appropriate to ensure comprehension for subjects whose native language is not English. Investigators must provide the UCAIHS with the recruitment and consent documents in both English and the alternative language(s).

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