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users in focus groups

Recruiting and researching people with respect

In this section you will find useful information on the ethical procedures for engaging with people in the design process.  It is not a comprehensive guide to ethics in design. Rather it is an introduction to key principles and good practice, with links to primary sources and further information.

Ethics is an evolving field driven by new understanding and new legislation. Ethical guidelines should therefore be treated, in the words of the ESRC, as a ‘living document’ that is reviewed and updated over time. Please refer to the original sources in addition to the information here.

This section is organised into five areas for designers to consider:

Contact – how do you recruit people for your project?

Consent – how do you obtain their consent to participate?

Confidentiality – how must you treat the information you are given?

Conduct – how should you behave when engaging with people?

Context – how should you conduct yourself in specific situations, for example when researching on the web, with children or with vulnerable adults?

This approach extends the model of the three ‘Cs’ in user research developed by Higgins (1992) by adding the areas of contact and context to consent, confidentiality and conduct.

Our recommendations have been drawn from a number of Key Sources.

A Glossary of Terms is included here