FAQ: Research ethics and consent form

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Q. What's all this ethics/consent form stuff about?

Any research involving human participants at Concordia University and other Canadian universities need to follow certain ethics rules to make sure that participants are treated fairly. Even research that poses little to no risk for participants, such as this project, is subject to ethics rules. These rules exist to protect you. They require that we provide you with certain information, and also that we get your permission before carrying out certain activities, such as interviews.

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Q. If I choose to participate, what will I actually do?

Participation usually means doing two interviews, 60-90 minutes each (possibly longer, if typed rather than spoken). In these interviews, I will ask you to talk about your modding work, experience, and viewpoints. I will also ask to be able to join you in online forums or chat rooms (limited to whatever you feel comfortable with) to observe your modding-related conversations and interactions with others. There are no obligations -- you can participate as much or as little as you wish, and you can withdraw at any time.

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Q. Is participation anonymous? Will I be identified in the final results?

You will decide if and how you wish to be identified. By default, information about you will be kept anonymous. However, we recognize that as someone who makes mods or does other creative work, you might wish to be recognized and receive credit. Therefore you may, if you wish, ask us to identify you by a name of your choosing. We will provide you with a separate web form for this purpose. If you want to remain anonymous, no action is required.

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Q. How will I be portrayed in the final results? What if I am unhappy with what is said about me?

You will have a chance to see a draft of the dissertation and any other relevant research papers, before they are finalized. If you are no longer comfortable with your participation and wish to withdraw your data, you will have the opportunity to do so.

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Q. Why do I have to complete an online form?

In order to ensure that research involving human participants is conducted ethically, since you are a human, we are required to obtain your informed consent to be a research participant, before we can conduct any interviews with you. This means that we provide you with clear information about the study procedures, and you are free to decide whether you want to participate or not. Having you complete this form is our way of making sure you have freely and knowingly chosen to participate.

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Q. Is this a legal waiver? Am I waiving any legal rights?

No. You do NOT waive or lose ANY of your legal rights by signing this form.

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Q. What if I sign the form, but then I change my mind and decide I don’t want to participate?

How much and how long you participate is your choice. You have the right to stop or withdraw at any time. You also don't have to commit to any specific activities in advance. For instance, we'd like to do two interviews, but if you only want to do one, that's okay.

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Q. Do I have to provide my full legal name when I sign the form?

Not necessarily -- it's up to you. Because this research is conducted over the internet, we understand that some participants will prefer to identify themselves with screen names rather than real legal names. You may sign the form by typing an online screen name that you use. You may also use your real name if you wish.

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Q. Where can I access the form?

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2687725/minecraftphd

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Q. Can I get a copy of the form for my own records?

When you fill out the consent form online, you will have the opportunity to download a PDF copy (including your signature) for your records. You can also get a blank, unsigned copy of the form here.

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Q. Who is conducting this research? Where/how will the results be published?

Nic Watson, a Ph.D. student in Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada, is conducting this research as part of a doctoral dissertation project.

The results will be included in the written dissertation, which will be publicly available through the university's archive and website. Results may also be published in the form of articles in a peer-reviewed academic journal, presentations at conferences, essays published on the web, and (possibly, one day) as a book.

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Q. What is the research about?

Modding has played a huge role in the formation of Minecraft as a product and a cultural phenomenon. Minecraft's identity is as much a result of the work of fans and modders as it is of commercial developers. However, modders work in very different ways from commercial development studios. My goal is to uncover the inner life of modding, its culture, and its practices.

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Q. What kind of ethics review has this research undergone?

This project has been approved by the University Human Research Ethics Committee, Concordia University. You can download a copy of the Certificate of Ethical Acceptability here.

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Q. Who can I talk to if I still have questions or concerns?

For questions about study procedures, or about the research project in general, you can contact the researcher, Nic Watson, directly: n.watson@concordia.ca

If you have concerns about ethical issues in this research, please contact Manager, Research Ethics, Concordia University, 514.848.2424 ex. 7481 or oor.ethics@concordia.ca

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