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SciCast Research Study
Informed Consent Statement
v1.4 Effective Oct. 24, 2014

RESEARCH PROCEDURES

This research seeks to increase the accuracy of crowd-sourced forecasting of science and technology (S&T) events. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to browse forecasting questions, select those of interest to you, and modify the forecasts of those events. It is possible to do a good job of forecasting in only about 30 minutes per week, but you choose your own pace, and there is no limit to the amount of time you are allowed to spend browsing and forecasting. Mathematical methods are used to aggregate individual forecasts to provide an overall forecast for each question.

In addition you may, at your own discretion provide additional background information about yourself and answer questions designed to assess your reasoning capabilities. This information is anonymized so that researchers who work with the data only know the SciCast online username of the individuals from which it came. The information is analyzed to find the backgrounds that best correlate to forecasting accuracy.

The project will continue through May 25, 2015, and might be extended.

RISKS

You choose your own username when you sign up to participate. By default, your username is the only personal information that is made publicly available. You may opt to provide additional personal information. The only foreseeable risk of this research study is the possibility that your personal identity will be deduced based on your username or other information you choose to make available.

If you choose a username that is already in use by you in other online venues, or if you choose to share your username with others in the study, your identity and performance may be deduced by others.

BENEFITS

There are no direct benefits to you for participating other than access to the forecast questions, associated discussions, prediction data, and feedback on your forecasting performance.

CONFIDENTIALITY

The data in this study will be held confidential. You will choose a username to log on to the website. You must provide an email address to leave comments or receive email notifications. If you do, you agree that we may contact you by email unless you explicitly opt out from such contact. If you provide your social network information, then you are also agreeing that we may contact you through those social networks unless you explicitly opt out from such contact.

Your email address will not be included in data provided to researchers or in data exported to any third parties. If you were invited via email by a society to which you already belong, that society may be notified that you registered, but we will not reveal your username without your permission.

If you choose to provide personal background information and to take reasoning quizzes, both the data and quiz results will be used only by researchers, and otherwise kept in a secure repository.

If you elect to provide permission to access your information from social networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook, this information will be made available to researchers on an anonymized basis.

Anonymized study data will be made publicly available to encourage research use, and the anonymized data is likely to be indefinitely retained in research archives for research purposes. All personally identifying data such as name and email address, will be kept in secure repositories, and not made available to any persons except for a small number of system administrators who are required by law to maintain confidentiality of such data.

All personally identifying data will be destroyed at the end of the research study.

ELIGIBILITY

You must be 18 years of age to participate in this study. If you are participating in any other IARPA-funded forecasting study, you are not eligible to participate in the SciCast study.

PARTICIPATION

Participants of this project will make and modify forecasts of S&T events through a password-protected website called a "prediction market". This activity is similar to public forecasting sites that can be found online such as inklingmarkets.com and consensuspoint.com.

In addition you may elect to provide candidate S&T forecasting questions and to participate in online discussions about such questions. You may also request to act as a Topic Leader who provides question topic areas and socializes the project in other professional venues and you may participate in discussions on forecast question development. The selection of persons to act as topic leaders and question moderators will be at the discretion of the SciCast research team.

Although other prediction markets might allow trading with money, this project does not. Nevertheless, you will periodically be provided opportunities to receive gifts with monetary value, depending upon the times you choose to use the site. During some periods, participant activities have a chance of winning prizes. Specific activities performed on specific days as described in recruitment materials and study instructions can win the user prizes. Some activities can earn the user a share in a lottery. After each day of activities, shares will be randomly selected, and users will later receive their prizes. Other activities can be tallied, and the top scoring users will win prizes. Prizes can include written acknowledgements of participation, prize icons that will appear on users’ profiles, and $25, $225, $250 and/or $2,000 Amazon Gift Cards. If you receive more than $575 in Amazon Gift Cards you will also be given an IRS form 1099 to submit with your tax return. During ongoing participation in this research, you will need to watch for announcements to take full advantage of these opportunities.

Your participation is voluntary, and you may withdraw from the study at any time and for any reason. If you decide not to participate or if you withdraw from the study, there is no penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. There are no costs to you or any other party.

CONTACT

This research is being conducted by Dr. Charles Twardy in the C4I Center at George Mason University. He may be reached at 703-993-1846 for questions or to report a research-related problem. You may contact the George Mason University Office of Research Integrity and Assurance at 703-993-4121 if you have questions or comments regarding your rights as a participant in the research.

This research has been reviewed and approved according to George Mason University procedures governing your participation in this research.


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