Some participants, although not legally competent, are able to make judgment about their participation themselves. This is the case for teenagers and some mentally impaired individuals, for instance. The assent formgives them an opportunity to express their agreement to participate in research in writing, beyond the consent given by a legal guardian or parent. Although the assent is not legally binding, and does not dispense a researcher from obtaining consent from a parent or legal guardian, it is advisable as sound ethical practice. It reinforces the voluntary nature of participation.
Implied consent. Participation in the study is proof of consent. This is acceptable for studies that provide anonymity, such as opinion surveys. A statement at the top of the instrument should clearly state that by filling it, the participant consents to participate, but does not wave any of their rights as research participant. Projects using implied consent should use the consent statementtemplate provided in this website, or a similar document, in their proposal. It provides active implied consent.
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Written consent. Participants give their consent by filling out a consent form. Written consent guarantees active and explicit consent, thus offering the highest guarantees to the participant. It is most appropriate in studies that contain some level of risk, but also in many studies with no risk above those of daily life, when participants disclose personal or sensitive information, when they are exposed to deception, or any experimental treatment. Experiments and in-depth interviews in particular should consider written consent.
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