Research Reports

Read about our research in this Summary or this Full Report on our research.

You are welcome to download our latest research:

2018 Research Reports - New

SMART Consent Report 2018

Porn Report 2018

2017 Research Reports

SHAG 2017 Report

Smart Consent Summary Report 2017

Smart Consent Full Report 2017

Consent is SMART

Minster of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh with students of NUI Galway                 
Train the Trainer Workshop with Dr Pádraig MacNeela                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Minister, President & Students Train the Trainer

 Background to the Active Consent Programme

Typically, young adults already know what consent is.  That’s the good news.  

But there is much more uncertainty and difference of opinion when we try to apply this knowledge to the nuance of real-life situations.

 When it comes to sex:

Is a smile enough to show consent?

How much alcohol is too much before someone loses the capacity for consent?

If a person doesn’t say no, does that mean consent?

The Active Consent programme works with young people to shine light on these grey areas and provide practical skills through interactive workshops, engagement with multimedia materials, and ongoing research into sexual attitudes and behaviours across Ireland.

The philosophy behind our approach is to work with students, not provide classes, by using the evidence-based activities that we have designed. No one is ever asked to give personal information or talk about their experiences.  We also work directly with students and community partners on the ongoing design of our workshop activities and other materials.

In 2018, students working on our project came up with this easy to remember slogan which epitomises our core message………

Consent is Ongoing, Mutual and Freely Given, i.e. Consent=OMFG

                       Galway gets it Logo  

Help us spread this message within your organisation by booking a facilitator training and more and learn more about our ongoing work below.  

Our SMART Consent workshops

Our workshop activities help explore all the different dimensions of consent. We think consent is SMART, i.e. it relates to each of these factors:

S: All Sexual orientations and Gender identities
M: Your State of Mind – Willingness; Free from pressure; Thinking clearly without the influence of alcohol or drugs
A: All Activities, on an ongoing basis – Kissing, Touching, Oral, Penetrative Sex etc. 
R: All relationships, both casual and committed
T: Talking or nonverbal signs and signals

What students say:

We evaluate all the workshops that we deliver, with average ratings of 4.00 to 4.50 out of 5.00 for the activities in the workshop, and typically within a short workshop we can see positive changes in attitudes:

Pre-Workshop: 29% Strongly Agree “I feel well informed about sexual consent”;

Post-Workshop: 71%.

  Pre-Workshop: 28% Strongly Agree “I have the skills to deal with sexual consent”;

Post-Workshop: 60%

How we do what we do:
  • Do the research first: We have surveyed and interviewed 3,000 + students. In 2020 we will have a baseline college survey of sexual health and violence among students at higher education institutions in Ireland and among second level students. This will build a fuller understanding of consenting and non-consenting sexual behaviours, and the influences that affect these important issues, including – alcohol, gender, attitudes and social norms.
  • Design activities: Using this research, we design activities for SMART Consent workshops that are engaging, thought provoking, and fun
  • Deliver workshops: Since 2015, over 4,000 third level students have taken part in a SMART Consent workshop
  • Provide training: To make this work sustainable colleges need workshop facilitators. In 2017-2018 we trained approximately 250 people to be SMART Consent workshop facilitators – students, academic and support staff who have gone on to deliver workshops to hundreds of students at DCU, TCD, QUB, UL, GMIT, NUI Galway, and the National College of Art & Design. We also deliver workshops to a number of other colleges and schools around the country.
  • Use the arts to broaden our impact: Working with Dr. Charlotte McIvor and students in Drama and Theatre studies we have developed a Creative Arts and Communication unit who have workshopped and created:

interactive films,
multimedia messaging and
a play to increase the reach of our message - Consent is OMFG- premiering with a limited third-level tour in August-September 2019. 

 In 2020 a critical literacy resource on pornography with be designed and evaluated for school age young people, parents and teachers, by Kate Dawson, following the successful completion of her PhD research on Pornography.

Our team

Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins and Kate Dawson from School of Psychology, NUI Galway, alongside Dr. Charlotte McIvor, from Drama and Theatre Studies in the O'Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance.

Do get in touch if you would like to:
  • Book SMART Consent facilitator training
  • Book the Active Consent drama presentation for a date or dates in August-September 2019
  • Have your name placed on an advance list for the launch of the Active Consent toolkit for third-level in spring 2019
  • Find out more about our programme and research findings since 2014

We plan to work with organisations and groups with existing delivery networks to reach young people 16-24 years old in third level, second level, sports clubs and parents.

Siobhan.ohiggins@nuigalway.ie; padraig.macneela@nuigalway.ie or charlotte.mcivor@nuigalway.ie

Or call: 091 495121, 086 285 7298

Our work has been supported by:

  • Irish Research Council
  • HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme
  • NUI Galway Student Project Fund
  • Confederation of Student Services in Ireland
From 2019 our work will be supported for the next four years by:
 Lifes2good logo

 NUI Galway logo

 GUF logo