For surveys, interviews, and focus groups and other activities that fall into the exempt categories, consent statements can be presented electronically (e.g. as the first page of an electronic survey), emailed, or read to the participant as is appropriate for the study.
For studies that are not exempt, a signature is normally required. But that is not practical for remote situations. In that case, for non-exempt research, an alteration of consent is required. And in some cases a waiver of documentation is recommended.
Here are some options to consider.
1. Consent over the phone or teleconference, with you as the researcher documenting consent as the last page of the consent form.
2. Emailing the consent to the participant and having the individual sign, scan/take picture, and email it back to you.
3. Mail the consent, and have the participant mail it back to you.
All of these are alterations to the normal consent process, which is why an alteration of consent is required.
In some situations it may be harmful to document consent of the participant because it would make their information identifiable. Or it may be the case that your study includes procedures for which consent is not normally required (like an anonymous survey). In those situations you would also complete waiver of documentation of consent.