Informed Consent Form

Dear Participant:

Thank you for your willingness to participate in this research project. Below is information you need to know before agreeing to be a participant in this study. If all of this is acceptable, you can select the appropriate response to the following questions. At the end, you can volunteer to be interviewed by the researcher (through a separate survey) as a way to gain deeper insight into the focus of this subject.

IRB CHAIR CONTACT INFORMATION: Should the subject have any questions or wish to discuss any aspect of the research with an official of the university or IRB, he/she/they have should contact the following individual: Lisa Rubin, Chair, Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects, 203 Fairchild Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, (785) 532-3224; Brad Woods, Associate Vice President for Research Compliance, 203 Fairchild Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, (785) 532-3224

PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH: Too often, the news-consuming habits of rural, Midwestern farmers and ranchers are ignored. This is especially true in relation to misinformation and disinformation showing up in the news they read, watch, or listen to. The goal of this research study is to change that. To do so, how individuals living and working in farming communities are being looked at to understand how belief in and the spread of misinformation and disinformation and conspiracy theories happens, and part of that is understanding where they come from, which could include partisan media outlets that include, but are not limited to, conservative talk radio, television networks, and social media platforms. This is done through a combination of surveys and interviews. Through this, an understanding can be gained about how individuals use and are impacted by the news in ways that allow political division and polarization to flourish, which damages society, communities, and democracy. The information collected will be used to complete a doctoral dissertation and/or other projects, such as academic journal articles.

PROCEDURES OR METHODS TO BE USED: This research will use two methods to collect information. First, there will be an online survey, but anyone who completes it will not be identifiable because no names will be required. Demographic information — like age or gender or religious preference — will be collected, but that information and the survey answers will only be used to get a general idea of where people stand, which will help the researcher to compare that information to other sources of information. After the survey, one-on-one interviews with observations will be done, but those people must specifically volunteer to be interviewed. They can volunteer by completing a different form, which keeps the identifiable information of names and contact information for the people being interviewed separate from the survey answers, which are not tied to a person’s name. Anyone who is interviewed will be identified by an assigned alias, as well as their title, general organizational affiliation, and other demographic information as applicable. In terms of the interviews, this means participants will be asked a series of questions during a 30-to-90-minute session or series of sessions. They will have the choice to answer each question or not. Individuals will be expected to answer questions they choose to answer with openness and honesty, understanding that they can decline to answer any question asked of them. The interviews will be recorded using video and/or audio recording devices. The audio recordings will be used to develop transcripts of the interviews that can be coded and analyzed, and the use of video will help provide some of the observational data. The raw recordings will not be made public. The interviews will take place at a time and location agreed upon by everyone involved, and the interview will be discussed following the event, which will serve as a debrief. During this debrief, individuals will be allowed to provide their thoughts and feelings about the questions and processes as they’ve been experienced. No one will be paid for participating. The information collected might be used for future research without additional informed consent.

LENGHT OF SURVEY: 30-60 minutes (52 questions excluding demographic collection)


RISK OR DISCOMFORTS ANTICIPATED: There is no anticipated risk from participating, and it is not anticipated that any portion of the process will make an individual uncomfortable. However, should an individual feel any form of discomfort in any way, the individual can stop participating in the survey or interview at any time.

BENEFITS ANTICIPATED: This research will help everyone understand how misinformation and disinformation spread and impacts news audiences, and it will provide ideas for how to best counter misinformation and disinformation, which will help to improve society, communities, and democracy because individuals will be better informed to make decisions.

EXTENT OF CONFIDENTIALITY: No survey participants will be identified by their name, title, organizational affiliation, or other demographic information. The information gathered will be used in the aggregate form only. All interview participants will be identified by an assigned alias, as well as their title, general organizational affiliation, and other demographic information as applicable. The information collected might be used for future research without additional informed consent. All data collected will be kept on a password-protected computer in a home office that has a door with a lock, and this home office is located within the researcher’s personal home, which is also equipped with doors, locks, and security cameras.

I understand this project is research, and that my participation is voluntary. I also understand that if I decide to participate in this study, I may withdraw my consent at any time, and stop participating at any time without explanation, penalty, or loss of benefits, or academic standing to which I may otherwise be entitled. 

Furthermore, I consent to being recorded via video, audio, or other means as part of the study for the purposes outlined above in the event I volunteer to be interviewed.

I verify that my signature below and/or selecting “agree” indicates that I have read and understand this consent form and willingly agree to participate in this study under the terms described, and that my signature/selection acknowledges that I have received a signed and dated copy of this consent form or have otherwise retained a copy of this digital form for my own records.