Suggestions for Remote Consent Taking

During the Covid-19 situation, NTU-IRB is accepting study amendments from PIs who wish to convert face-to-face consent taking/study procedures to remote consent taking/study procedures.

<<All conversions require submission of an amendment form to NTU-IRB for documentation purposes. Please state that you will revert back to in-person visits after the end of the Covid-19 situation or when official guidelines permit, so that a second amendment is not required.>>


Non-HBR studies

If your original study is anonymous:

Make sure conversion to online recruitment and consent taking remains anonymous (e.g. converting from anonymous paper surveys to anonymous online surveys, or QR codes with links to online survey, without asking for participant identifiers, and no IP address tracking.)

  • Explain how your study will be conducted remotely. 
  • Converting to consent taking via emails will render participants identifiable, so this will be considered a major amendment. PI needs to show how confidentiality will be safeguarded. (E.g. mass email, and not sent to an individual email.)

If your original study is identifiable:

Change from paper consent/face-to-face interview to email consent/remote interview is allowed, but an audit trail is required.

  • Explain how your study will be conducted remotely. 
  • Participants using corporate/NTU email addresses to respond do not require e-signatures.
  • Participants using personal emails (e.g. Gmail/Hotmail) should affix some kind of e-signature.
    <PI should explain how they intend to authenticate the participant. >
  • Or PIs can also allow participants to read consent form on a webpage, and allow them to consent by providing their name/email/mobile etc into the web-form.  
  • Email consent must be properly documented and archived by the PI for records keeping.
  • Participant can also print/sign/scan the consent form and return signed softcopy via email. 

To facilitate consent taking from parents for low-risk, non-HBRA studies, please refer to our existing guidance here for obtaining parental consent through online methods. 

HBR studies under the scope of HBRA

HBR studies are usually identifiable.
Change from paper consent to email/pdf consent is allowed. A video/ phone conversation is strongly advised to ensure participant fully understands the research methodology. 

  • Make sure IRB-approved version of consent form is provided to the participant. The signed consent form can be returned back via email, both of which needs to be properly documented and archived
  • For consent forms requiring a Witness, make sure there is a video call to ensure the participant fully understands the study procedure in the presence of the Witness. Just an email consent from participant is not sufficient. The original signed consent forms should be mailed back to the study team for proper filing.