Ugh...Consent...this is a long one

Reading the required bits of the Toronto Office of Research Ethics Guidelines and Practices Manual while trying to write my proposal has been very informative yet also frustrating. So many things to consider! In my research I am looking at two age groups and unfortunately one of those groups is teenagers, 13 to 18. So don't just have to convince them to participate, I have to convince their parents or guardian to let them. For my proposal I have written a rough consent letter which I shall post here, please let me know if I've made any errors or left anything out...thanks!

Dear Parent/Guardian;

Your child has been invited to participate in an academic study run by a graduate student in the iSchool at the University of Toronto. This study will be supervised by Prof. Awesome of the U of T iSchool faculty and will follow all guidelines designated by the university of Toronto's Office of Reserach Ethics.

The purpose of this research is to investigate how a female's personal identity is internally constructed and perceived with the use of digital media. The study is examining two age groups of females, 13-18 year olds and 35-40 year olds and comparign the results. We hope to gain insight into the thoughts of women introduced to technology later in life as compared to those born into it. This study will contribute to dicussions surrounding women, identity and the use of digitla media. Following David Gauntlett's "Making is Connecting" method (, the participants will be able to create vsual representations of their identity both online and offline and then discuss and reflect on what they have created. The participants will spend 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon on the 5th floor of the University of Toronto Bissel Building and will be compensated in community service hours completed.

Your child has been approached because she is a female of the correct age and she uses digital media daily. If she chooses to participate, she will be working individually but discussing her creation in a group of 6 of her peers. In teh session itself, the participants will sign confidentiality agreements with one another not to share others' personal thoughts and feelings.

Your child's participation is completely voluntary and she may refuse to participate or withdraw at anytime. However, upon withdrawal the allotted community service hours will not be given. Photographs will be taken of teh visual representations created and video recordings will be made of the discussion. The photographs will be used in teh research findings presentation, but the video footage will not. Video recording will be used only by the researchers for identification of the participants in linking the person to what they say. The recordings are completely confidential and will not be used outside of transcribing the study. Some sections of the transcript may be used in teh findings presentation, but there will be no name or identifying characteristics attached to it. If you have any questions regarding any aspect of this study please contact the Office of Research Ethics at or 416-946-3273 and the researcher at

Please sign below to allow your child to participate in this study.


  1. Hi Aurianne, I just wanted to mention that your research project looks really interesting. I was just curious - how will you frame your introduction to the workshop? In particular, how will you make the link between your participants' use of digital media and the creative expression of their identity? I'd love to hear more about it!

  2. is it cool to suggest some better wording?

    P1: "study run by a graduate student" = "study conducted by a graduate student"

    P2: "The purpose..." maybe make it more general, it sounds slightly ominous considering your asking the parents permission; something simple as "The purpose is to look at female identity and digital media"

    P3:"female of the correct age" = "female of the target age group"

    P4: maybe make it a little more explicit that the photographs published will be of the work, not the girls. the video footage, identifying the girls, will not be published.

    It sounds really good, there were some simple typos i'm sure you'll catch (especially with the word 'the'). My only suggestion is to put the word 'anonymity' somewhere, though I know you explained it, I think stating it directly will help ease parent's worries.

    also, i'm with eleonore, the whole project sounds really interesting but how will you explain it to these girls?

  3. Hey ladies!
    Thanks so much for your comments, they are very helpful and I will definitely be using the suggestions.
    As for prepping the younger folks. I was planning on using the same warm up method that Gauntlett suggests. First we will discuss "metaphor" what it is and popular examples of it. Then I will have them create simple metaphors out of the clay provided. They will then be encouraged to talk about what makes them their identity. I'll ask them to think about the differences of that identity online and offline and how they feel when they are using the digital media. We will discuss as a group some examples of general aspects of identity. Next they will begin the creative process of visually representing their identities both online and off. I will constantly check in and ask questions about their creation during the entire process.

  4. Collaborative awesomeness - I'll give you actual comments on your proposal Aurianne - but at a first glance, looks great!