UCL Research Domains


Consent to participate in research under the General Data Protection Regulation

10am to 12 noon, Friday, 8 December 2017
Venue: Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research) 2 Taviton St, London WC1H 0BT

On 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force and will replace the current Data Protection Act 1998.   The GDPR creates new rights for individuals, strengthens current rights and amends the definition of consent, including how it should be given (the changes are in bold):

Consent is "any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject's wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her"

This means that a participant's indication that they consent to take part in research must be 'unambiguous' and involve 'clear affirmative action'; 'it cannot be inferred from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity' (Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation.) Further, the Consultation: GDPR consent guidance document specifically states (see below) on page 23 that "there is no such thing as 'opt-out consent'".  This therefore removes the option of using 'opt-out' recruitment processes; whereby information is sent to all potential participants and gatekeepers/parents as above, but researchers deem participants to have agreed to take part unless they specifically state otherwise.

It is worth noting that the changed definition of consent relates to circumstances where consent is to be relied upon as the condition (legal basis) for processing personal data under the GDPR. Consent is just one of several conditions for processing and it may be possible to rely on a different one.

This two hour seminar will focus on this change and how research that requires opt-out recruitment processes could be undertaken in light of this change. 

  • As part of the registration process attendees will be asked to provide examples of research where opt-out recruitment was or is being used to consider the potential impact of these changes and to discuss potential solutions moving forward.

The following links provide useful guidance ahead of the seminar:
UCL guidance on GDPR
ICO overview of the General Data Protection Regulation
Consultation: GDPR consent guidance
Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation

  • This workshop has beewn convened by Rowena Lamb, Cultures of Integrity Co-ordinator, Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), UCL and Alex Daybank (UCL Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer)