Twitter in the courtroom

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Invitation to Participate

Title of Research: The chronicle of a murder trial, 140 characters at a time: Twitter in the courtroom.

Researchers: Margo C. Watt, Ph.D., R. Psych., & Catherine Gallagher, B.Sc.

You are invited to participate in a research study that examines whether following criminal trial proceedings via micro-blogging services, such as Twitter, affects people's perception of those proceedings and the outcome of the trial. This study also examines whether Twitter enhances people's understanding of, or engagement with, the criminal justice system.  

You will be asked to complete a series of questions regarding your experiences of following a recent murder trial held in the Supreme Court of Pictou (R. v. Falconer; January 2014). You will be asked how you accessed information about the trial, your overall perception of the criminal justice system, and, more particularly, your perception of the recent murder trial proceedings and outcome. If you have any questions about any of the items on the survey, please do not hesitate to contact the primary investigator (contact information below).

No personal information is collected throughout the study, so confidentiality is completely maintained.
 

Voluntary Participation 

Please note that if you do not wish to complete the online survey, you are free to simply close your Internet browser and the data you have completed so far will not be collected. If you want to complete the study at a different time, you can discontinue and begin again at a time of your choosing. As no self-identifying information is collected, there is no penalty whatsoever for declining to participate. 

NOTE: Once you complete the survey, a prompt will appear asking you to submit your answers. You will have the option to either submit or discard your answers. Once answers have been submitted, they cannot be withdrawn as there is no identifiable information associated with your answers. 

If you want to participate in the study but do not wish to do so online, feel free to contact the researchers using the information provided below. We can mail you a paper copy of the questionnaire with a return self-addressed envelope.

Instructions and Estimated Time

The online survey you are about to complete includes a series of questions that will be answered on the website. The questions will provide specific instructions for how to provide your answer.

Once all questions are completed, you will be prompted that you have successfully completed the online survey and will be thanked for your time. 

The estimate for completion of this survey is 15-20 minutes.

Potential Harms and Benefits

There should be no risks associated with participating in this study. By participating, you will be contributing to a very new and little understood area of research - technology in the courtroom.

If responding to any of the questions causes you distress, you can choose not to answer those particular questions, you can choose to stop participating, you can contact the researchers, or you can contact local mental health resources (Pictou Health Authority: (902) 752-7600). 

Please note that, as a participant, you will not be provided with any compensation for completing the online survey. 

Confidentiality 

The service utilized to conduct our online survey guarantees total anonymity. No identifiable information will be collected by the questions in the survey, and the website itself will not record your IP address or any information that can identify your computer system. There is no way to identify you as a participant in this study, ensuring that even the researcher is not aware of your identity. 

Release of Data

In any findings publicly released as a result of this study, you will not be identified in any way due to the previous guarantee of anonymity. 

All data collected will be maintained for a standard period of 5 years before all records are destroyed
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Contact Information

If you have any further questions or concerns before consenting to participate in the study, please forward your correspondance to the following:

Dr. Margo C. Watt
Department of Psychology
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS   B2G 2W5

Phone: (902) 867-5215

Email: mwatt@stfx.ca

To request a paper copy of the questionnaire, please contact:

Catherine Gallagher
Department of Psychology
St. Francis Xavier Unviersity
Antigonish, NS   B2G 2W5

Email: x2008mzd@stfx.ca 

By beginning the survey, you acknowledge that you have read this information and agree to participate in this research, with the knowledge that you are free to withdraw your participation at any time without penalty. 

Do you wish to begin the survey?