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  1. Mel Chua
    February 8, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    Several of us hanging out in Raleigh last weekend used xournal (and Paul’s tablet, though I’d signed mine with a normal mouse) to sign the form you posted, and it went smoothly – until something better comes up, this is probably what I’d recommend (speaking as one of those hackers who doesn’t actually own a printer/scanner…)


    1. yum install xournal (or otherwise install xournal according to your distro).
    2. Download the consent form PDF and open it in xournal.
    3. Using the pencil tool in xournal, sign the document. (If you need to print your name, there’s also a text tool.)
    4. File > Export to PDF.
    5. Send the saved and signed PDF back to Diana (or your friendly neighborhood open source researcher).

    Does this work?

  2. Mel Chua
    February 8, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    Also, the explanation of the lead-up involved to doing this sort of research is very helpful to describe – my guess is that many of us are unfamiliar with the intricacies of doing qualitative research on human subjects and the reams of paperwork associated with it, so it helps to know why things may seem to be moving slowly behind the scenes. 😉

  3. Joshua B. Treadway
    February 8, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    Of all the cultural anthro professors I’ve talked to on the subject have told me the same thing, you can submit a research design but you cant be really sure what is going to happen once you get to the field site or if you are going to discover something more interesting and important once you are there. I believe that holds true for even ‘virtual fieldwork’.

    In regards to the IRB, I am also looking at an opensource community and have many similar restrictions on how to receive consent. Obtaining a signature in any form is extremely difficult and in my case counter productive to protecting the identity of the informants. I modeled my IRB after Tom Boellstorff’s method described in his Coming to Age book. Basically what I do is refer the person to a publicly electronic copy of the consent form and ask them to read it. Then I ask them if they understand and consent and I record the reply by screenshot.

    The IRB committee was probably okay with this because the nature of study is unlikely to produce any sensitive information that will harm the participants

  4. nicu
    February 9, 2010 @ 10:21 am

    @Joshua: I somewhat disagree with “obtaining a signature in any form is extremely difficult”… every Fedora contributor has GPG signed a form, but I guess you won’t be happy with a GPG signature…

    I also used Xournal and a tablet… print/sign/scan is too troublesome.

  5. Joshua B. Treadway
    February 9, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

    @nico: I wasn’t quite clear on my meaning, obtaining a signature in my research is quite difficult. Of course I would be happy with a GPG signature or a physical one but obtaining signatures is difficult in my case because many of the participants are anonymous anyway and many have very limited technical expertise. Besides it isn’t the signature I’m after, it is the consent.

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