31.0 Questionnaire based research

31.1 Identifiability

The National Statement discusses three levels of identifiability of data: identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable. Data can be collected or stored in any of these forms. As a rule of thumb you should use the least identifiable form in which your data will serve the research purpose.

The standard questionnaire format is to have the questions (on paper or online) completed by the participant on their own. You can also conduct questionnaires by phone or in person. These questions of format will impact on the levels of confidentiality the project can offer, and will have implications for data storage and management.

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31.2 Participant information and Consent

The Plain Language Statement for a questionnaire may be provided as

  • the cover sheet of the questionnaire document,
  • as the launching page for an online questionnaire, or
  • as a spoken script for phone data collection.
Whichever format you use, you must provide participants with the information required by the National Statement.

Whenever possible, a hard copy of the plain language statement should be provided (or made available to) the participants. In a phone context, you should ensure that the potential participant has written down the project website and/or researcher and complaints phone numbers before starting the questionnaire.

In most cases a consent form is unnecessary for a survey, as the return of the completed survey can be taken as consent.

Issues of informed consent in questionnaires are discussed in section 9.7.

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31.3 Online questionnaires

Ethical issues of online questionnaires are discussed in section 34.

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31.4 Phone questionnaires

Ethical issues of phone questionnaires are discussed in section 37.

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