Each Aspect of the Form Is Important
On the next page, you will find the Consent Form, again with a large margin at the top for printing on letterhead. In the form fields provided, you will type in the name of your focus group and also identify the focus group leader. If you have a sponsor, you can type in that company’s name, or just type in None.
You will next fill in the date and time of the focus group. If your group has multiple sessions, ask the participants to sign a form for each session.
In the subsequent paragraphs, the participant agrees that he understands the information provided and that he waives his rights to confidentiality. You need to make it clear that you are securing the rights to use his information whether it’s a spoken sentence, a written word, an idea, or a drawing. You want to wrap up your rights to whatever he says, even if it doesn’t seem to apply to the topic at hand.
In the next section, you specifically spell out that your rights include anything taped, filmed, photographed, or written by the participant. It’s a good idea to gloss over details of filming so that your participants are not self-conscious. Do not, for example, say that a camera is hidden behind a tree in the left corner; only briefly mention that “these proceedings will be filmed" and then move on.
Identify the incentives, if any, that the participant receives; doing so avoids any argument about payment at a later date. You can choose something from the dropdown box—no compensation; expenses only; or an incentive as described (and then use the next form field to describe it).
You will note the statements on the consent form are written in the first person—because when you ask the participant to sign and date the form and also to print his name, he is attesting to the stated information. When you sign as a witness, you should do so in front of him so that he has no doubt that everything is solidly documented.
If anybody balks at signing the consent form, you cannot make more than desultory efforts to convince him to sign. If someone has reservations about participating, you’re better off replacing him or doing without him, because his responses could invalidate your research.