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Author: Subject: Invitation to Participate in a Research Study
Hilary St Peter
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[*] posted on 3-12-2019 at 09:54
Invitation to Participate in a Research Study


Hi, everyone,

I'm a technical communication researcher and the lead investigator of a large interview study about how people create and use instructions (such as how-to videos, tutorials, demos, articles, etc) that document potentially risky or dangerous processes.

There is a lot of public and scholarly discourse about dangerous content that is available on the Internet, but we just don't know very much about how and why people use and interact with such content. Interviewing real people sheds important light on how people learn, have fun and satisfy curiosity while negotiating concerns about risk and safety.

The study include home chemists, citizen scientists and people who create online content about home chemistry or citizen science. Participation is voluntary and confidential, and anyone who interacts with potentially dangerous instructional materials is eligible to participate in an interviews. If you decide to participate in an interview, you will have the option to communicate with me via phone, Skype, Signal or another channel with which you are comfortable. Most interviews take about 20 minutes.

If you are interested in participating or would like to know more about the study, please don't hesitate to contact me at hsstpeter@gmail.com or via the messaging app on this site. I will provide more information about the study and a consent form; then, if you decide to move forward, we can set up an interview.

Here is some more information in case you'd like to Google me before deciding whether or not to participate.

Hilary A. Sarat-St. Peter, PhD
https://colum.academia.edu/HilarySaratStPeter
Associate Professor of Professional/Technical Writing
Department of English and Creative Writing
Columbia College Chicago
hsstpeter@gmail.com

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[*] posted on 4-12-2019 at 05:17


Sounds interesting. I will participate.



As below, so above.
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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 4-12-2019 at 06:31


I have also sent an email.
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[*] posted on 4-12-2019 at 07:46


I participated, and can confirm this is legitimate. Ms. Sarat-St. Peter has a very detailed, well-written research plan and good confidentiality procedures. I enjoyed talking with her and sharing some of my experiences. It's a very interesting study topic.
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[*] posted on 9-12-2019 at 04:06


Study sponsor? Could this be used to profile or undermine home science?



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[*] posted on 9-12-2019 at 09:37


a study should be neutral, the outcome depends on our behaviour




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feel free to correct my grammar, or any mistakes i make
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Hilary St Peter
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[*] posted on 9-12-2019 at 12:07


Hi,

I'd like to thank everyone who has considered participating so far. Here are some answers to questions that have been raised -- please come back and ask more.

RE: Study sponsor:

The study sponsor is me -- I'm the principal investigator, and I'm the only person who has access to study data. Here's some more about me. I'm a tenured professor at Columbia College Chicago. My PhD is in technical and professional communication, and I have published works on how people engage in technical communication outside of work (on user forums, etc). I also work with other scholars to push for academic research that takes user-generated content seriously, and I recently co-edited a volume of IEEE Transactions on user-generated content (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/tocresult.jsp?isnumber=89104...).

The study is funded by a very small internal grant from Columbia College (<5k) to travel to meet participants for interviews, buy texts mentioned by study participants, etc), but I would not say the college is the sponsor of the study.

US colleges and universities are also signatories to the Common Rule, which means that any study involving an element of risk must be approved by an independent ethics board (IRB). This study was approved over the summer, and I go through the IRB to amend the study every time I make changes to the protocol. In January, I'm going to go back to the IRB to ask them to approve a special version of the consent for tailored to the needs/activities of home chemists, because the language on the form doesn't represent home chemists very well (I'm thankful for participants who have brought this problem to my attention).

Some readers might be wondering whether I have any ties to law enforcement/authorities. I don't. In fact, I've criticized DHS's lateral surveillance program in past publications. I'm also taking steps to protect participants' confidentiality over and above measures that researchers usually take in a qualitative study, such as storing study data in an encrypted location, anonymizing everything, destroying original copies, and using a separate laptop for research that I keep at home so no one can walk off with my data.

RE: Can it be used to profile or undermine home science?

That's a great question. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I will represent home chemistry in a positive way, and I hope I might also find opportunities to advocate for authorities to back off on hobbyists or home scientists who enjoy conducting experiments at home for fun and curiosity. My research is sometimes cited in the security/counter-terrorism community, so there's some chance that those who craft policy will hear and respond to those arguments. Although the study is still in the data collection phase, I know I won't be using the study to make a "we need to crack down on amateur scientists"-type argument.

I want to address profiling separately. This is a qualitative study focusing on how people think and talk about their own activities, so I don't think findings would be translatable to surveillance and profiling (those endeavors tend to be based on quantitative algorithms, or at least authorities pretend that they are). The study includes many different populations of people who use instructional materials to engage in potentially dangerous activities. It's possible that some patterns will emerge from study data that differentiate one population from another (i.e., home chemists use instructional materials this way, but the DIY weapons crafters use these other materials in this other way), but I don't think that's the same as profiling.




[Edited on 9-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 9-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 9-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 9-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 9-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]
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[*] posted on 9-12-2019 at 16:53
Lots of talk in a circle.


Caution.:cool:



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[*] posted on 9-12-2019 at 18:36


I find this concerning. The OP has 2 posts and has made no effort to interact with the SM community prior to her request. She has indicated that her work has been cited in the context of anti-terrorism.

Where i to be doing such research i would have a) run it by woelen or similar; b) talked to the mods i know personally; c) posted to whimsy regarding my intention; d) posted the research question and methodology; e) invited reply by U2U so that the initial process remained transparent to the forum mods. Lastly, i would hope that my 5 years attendance here would contribute to some level of trust.

[Edited on 10-12-2019 by diddi]

[Edited on 10-12-2019 by diddi]




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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 04:56


Quote: Originally posted by diddi  

Where i to be doing such research i would have a) run it by woelen or similar; b) talked to the mods i know personally


Especially now that the forum requires manual registration by email request, I wouldn't be surprised if she did specifically ask about it. Obviously, I don't know if that is the case or not. I also don't think it is necessarily a fair expectation to do that either.

Quote: Originally posted by diddi  
e) invited reply by U2U so that the initial process remained transparent to the forum mods.

The original post does suggest messaging on this site as an option. Also, I would say that the site admins shouldn't be routinely poking about in private messages sent via U2U (without the permission of at least one party involved) anyway. I am not sure whether the forum software facilitates such poking about easily or not...

Quote: Originally posted by diddi  
I find this concerning. The OP has 2 posts and has made no effort to interact with the SM community prior to her request. She has indicated that her work has been cited in the context of anti-terrorism.


I get why people are wary about this, but having participated I don't see any reason to believe that this would be used against the amateur chemistry (etc) community.

A copy of the interview questions I was asked is below:
Quote:

1. Would you say you are mostly a user of instructional materials (such as articles, demos, how-to videos, informative forum posts, etc), a producer of instructional materials, or a bit of both? Please explain your answer.
2. What would you say is the most dangerous experiment or process you have performed as a home chemist? What dangers or risks were involved, and what steps did you take to address those risks?
3. When you perform a potentially dangerous experiment or process, what resources do you tend to consult? (i.e., looking at your own notes, talking to colleagues, consulting handbooks or charts, etc)
4. When you perform potentially dangerous experiments or processes, which specific texts or instructional materials have you consulted? (These might include certain videos, books, online posts, materials etc).
4b. Do you ever look at materials on Science Madness such as materials in the library, member publications, or Los Alamos technical report? If so, how do you use or interact with the materials that you look at? If not, why not?
5. How do you find instructional materials about performing potentially dangerous processes or experiments?
6. Overall, when you perform a potentially dangerous process or experiment, how important are instructional materials to you?
7. When you look at instructional materials about performing potentially dangerous processes or experiments, what aspects or features of those instructional materials tend to appeal to you? In other words, what makes you consult these materials and not others?
8. Do you tend to alter your copies of instructional materials in any way, such as highlighting, bookmarking, copying and pasting, making notes or annotations, etc?
9. Do you ever share instructional materials about home chemistry with anyone else, or create new potentially dangerous instructional materials for others to read and use? If so, how and why do you do that?
10. Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about?


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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 05:05


Caution -yes.
Also an opportunity to engage with outside our community.
The uni credentials seem plausible, and the study is realistic. Given that what we write here is in the public domain, and is likely if not to be monitored then to be monitor-able in the future, I can't see how discussing SM interaction will hurt.

I have accepted the offer, and will discuss SM's contribution to my developing educational resources in the state of Western Australia, including affordable TLC systems for Year 11 ATAR Chemistry, iron assays based around salicylic acid, and colloidal gold production so that we finally have some damn practical thing to do for the nanotechnology component that we have to teach, instead of just fluffing and waving our hands!

I'll let you know how it goes!
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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 06:14


Quote:
a) run it by woelen or similar;p

I am a moderator of this forum, and I have done quite a few experiments and have written about that in my website and on the forums over here, but I am not a researcher in the direction, investigated by Hilary. The fact that she invites people to participate is legit and there is nothing suspicious about that. It is up to everyone personally whether he/she wants to step in or not.

Quote:
b) talked to the mods i know personally;

Could be done, but I do not think that is necessary. When i first saw her post, it was OK for me.

Quote:
c) posted to whimsy regarding my intention;

That's not even possible for a new member. You first have to be around for 1 month or so and should have contributed in some way. If Hilary reports back on sciencemadness about her research, then in my eyes that is a valuable contribution to the forums.

Quote:
d) posted the research question and methodology;

Could be done, but she invited people to contact her for more info if they wish. It's a personal choice. Some people may be reluctant to contact her and hence will not participate, on the other hand, having people first contact her will lead to more interaction before their participation starts and may lead to better understanding and expectations.

Quote:
e) invited reply by U2U so that the initial process remained transparent to the forum mods. Lastly, i would hope that my 5 years attendance here would contribute to some level of trust.

Mods do not read other's U2Us. I even do not have the tools for reading those U2Us without someone noticing that their U2Us are read. I could read someone else's U2Us, but after the act, the other cannot login anymore and needs manual intervention from a moderator to be able to login again. If a moderator really need to do this, then there must be something wrong very seriously! It is a good thing that mods do not read other's U2Us. U2Us are private!




The art of wondering makes life worth living...
Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 09:12
Information


One thing about sharing information:

If it's not necessary, then avoid it.

:cool:




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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 10:22


Quote: Originally posted by sodium_stearate  
One thing about sharing information:

If it's not necessary, then avoid it.

:cool:


Kind of what we do here, share information. On purpose.




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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 15:36


She looks legit to me.

If you're skeptical about who she is, ask her who the character is in Catch-22 that represents Commerce Secretary Henry Wallace.

A professor of literature ought to know that.:D

Or at least who the character in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest is who represents Colonel Jacob Arvey.

Who is Lyndon Johnson in the novel King Rat?

Who is Adlai Stevenson in To Kill A Mockingbird?

Who represents speaker of the house Champ Clark in The great Gatsby?

Or lets get more contemporary: Who is the New Gingrich character in No Country For Old Men?

;)

EDIT: Seriously, she is an actual professor of literature, but I'd still give 10:1 odds that she don't know the answers to those questions.

I'd give 5:1 that those answers can't be found on the internet either.



Not yet, at least.




[Edited on 10-12-2019 by SWIM]




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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 17:41


i am glad my post enabled some discussion :)

i am just a skeptic when it comes to 'out of the blue' invites from newbies.

thx for posting the questions DavidJR




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Hilary St Peter
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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 17:51


I'm not at all surprised that people have concerns. It's a sensitive topic, especially since I'm visiting your community as an outsider to ask questions about danger and safety. I can certainly understand why some people might not want to participate, and I would not want someone to participate if they feel uncomfortable.

For those who are considering participating, here's some more information that you might find helpful.

Regarding my identity and legitimacy, you could verify those details by calling the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, where I am a tenured professor. The direct line to the chair's office is 312 369 8231. My chair's name is Dr. Pegeen Reichert Powell, and my full name is Dr. Hilary Anne Sarat-St. Peter. There is also a main office line to our department's administrative coordinator of services: 312-369-8101.

Regarding contacting a moderator to ask permission to post, I did so on this forum and on another forum where I am recruiting. On this forum, I didn't hear back from the moderator after one week (which is understandable, since mods are busy and often working for free). So, I decided to go for it and post.

Regarding not posting details about my methodology and research questions, IRB requirements require all initial recruitment materials (posts, signs, flyers, etc) to be readable at an 8th grade level (45 CFR 45.116 -- see this link:https://officeofresearch.ucsc.edu/compliance/services/irb22_consent_readability.html ).

Here's that information in a nutshell:

This is a qualitative, interview-based study of how people use materials that describe potentially dangerous processes, or use other instructional materials to engage in potentially dangerous activities. I differentiate "danger" from "risk" as follows:"risk" is a probability-based phenomenon associated with risk management (i.e., most US airlines accept a certain level of risk), whereas "danger" is what we face on a personal level. Both danger and risk have positive aspects that are not fully explored in current scholarship. The concept of everyday life (De Certeau, 1983) is also central to the study.

The research questions are as follows:

How do people use, create or interact with potentially dangerous instructional materials in everyday life?
What other instructional materials do people consult when engaging in potentially dangerous activities outside of a workplace context?
How do people differentiate between one kind of use and another, or cross and complicate boundaries differentiating one type of use from another?
How do people balance concerns about risks/safety/hazards with the potential for positive outcomes (learning, having fun, satisfying curiosity, making discoveries, etc) when engaging in potentially dangerous activities outside of work?

I will use grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin; Strauss and Glazer) to code the interview transcripts and interviews. I'd be happy to supply more information about the methodology for those who have questions.

Regarding not making other posts: I think that crosses the line into participatory observation. My IRB approval doesn't cover participant observation or research with ethnographic intent. It only covers inviting volunteers to participate in interviews. Individuals who interact with me on other threads might not know that I am a researcher, but what I read on other threads could subtly influence or inform my analysis of the data. It's possible that I would somehow create an observer effect. I think it's better if I confine my participation to this thread.

I can understand why some people would prefer to talk about safety and danger only with members of the community. I'm an outsider. Also, I'm sure some people would have designed the study a different way or approached recruitment in a different way. All I can speak to is my credentials and how I designed the study within a qualitative paradigm.

SWIM, I'm sorry I can't answer any of those questions! My PhD is in technical communication, so I'm not a professor of literature (though I am in an English department). I had one literature class in graduate school (I did my PhD at Wayne State University -- also verifiable), and I dropped out of it in Week 2.




[Edited on 11-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 11-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]

[Edited on 11-12-2019 by Hilary St Peter]
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Hilary St Peter
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[*] posted on 10-12-2019 at 18:47


I'd like to express gratitude to those who have talked or corresponded with me. It is a privilege to be able to talk with you as an outsider in your community.
I'd also like to apologize to anyone who is uncomfortable here because of my presence.
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