Debriefing Research Participants
Debriefing is an important element to a research project. Debriefing provides the researcher with an opportunity to remind the research participant(s) of the procedures and outcomes of the research, and to provide further assurances on areas such as confidentiality, anonymity, and retention of data. Debriefing is the final strand to the participant’s participation and wraps up their experience.
All research participants should receive some form of debriefing. This might be a verbal debriefing or a written debriefing depending on the context of the study. If the research has several stages or takes place over an extended timeframe, then an end-of-research/participation written debrief sheet should be considered.
The purpose of a debriefing session or sheet is to provide information about the results of the study, what the next steps are, to answer any queries and, most importantly, to thank the participant. It also provides an opportunity for the participant to give feedback to the researcher.
The following should be considered for inclusion in a sheet or session:
• Purpose of the project.
• How and when the results will be available.
• If individual feedback will be available.
• Restate what will happen to the information that the participant provided, and the right to withdraw individual data (if applicable).
• Who the participant should contact if they would like further information.
• In some cases (e.g. if working with student participants or others who have access to academic publications) you may want to provide one or two easily accessible references for further reading for those interested in learning more about your topic.