Information and consent
Do I have to give information to the sample?
As a main rule, you are obligated to inform the person(s) you are going to collect personal data about. This is a fundamental right that is entrenched in Norwegian law. The obligation to inform applies irrespective of the requirement to gain consent.
Generally the information is to be given individually (for instance via letter/e-mail). If it is not possible to give information individually, it is possible to give collective information (for instance in newspaper/membership magazine, notice in institution, webpage, notice in the area where observation will be done).
Do I have to gain consent from the sample?
The main rule is that you have to gain consent. For the consent to be valid, it has to be voluntary, explicit and informed. This means that the person who is asked to participate has to understand what the consent is about, and which consequences consent to participate in the research will have.
How do I give information and gain consent?
The law does not set requirements as to whether information and consent is to be given verbally or in writing, however it is common to write a letter of information where you ask for participation and give information about the project. See what you have to inform about, and feel free to use our example of an information letter.
Are there exemptions to the obligation to give information?
Mainly it will only be possible to make exemptions from the obligation to give information if you collect the personal data from others than the sample themselves (for instance in studies using registries, observation studies, internet research, or when there is collected data about third persons who do not participate themselves).
The following points may be relevant when considering exemption from giving information:
- the size of the sample (several thousand persons)
- if you have access to directly identifying personal data
- the magnitude and character of the data material (number of variables/degree of sensitive information)
- ethical considerations
As a main rule it has to be considered impossible or disproportionally difficult to give information, and thus exemptions are rarely made.
If you want an exemption from the obligation to give information and/or gaining consent, you have to give good reasons for this in the Notification form.
Are there exemptions to the obligation to gain consent?
Cases where it might be possible to make an exemption from gaining consent can be:
A common denominator is that you collect the information from other sources than the persons themselves, and that you therefore are not in contact with the person. Even if an exemption from gaining consent can be made, you still have to consider giving information.
If you want an exemption from gaining consent and/or the obligation to give information, you have to give good reasons for this in the Notification form.