The Citizen Lab

The Citizen Lab rules

In order to have an experiment in the Citizen Lab, you need to follow the Citizen Lab rules.

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The Citizen lab follows ethical guidelines issued by the National Research Ethics Committee for Social Sciences and Humanities (NESH). Beyond this, these are the following rules:

Rule 1: Do not lie to the participants

This is a "no-deception" lab. This means that those who are responsible for the experiment should not lie to the participants. In many experiments the researcher cannot provide complete information. This is not to be regarded as "deception", but it does require particular care of the researcher.


Rule 2: Requirement of informed and free consent

All participants must attend the experiment of free will. Participants must be informed about who is funding the experiment, the method, the duration of the experiment and that it is possible to withdraw from the experiment. The method will mostly be experimental.

Such information is given when one invites participants to the experiment, before the experiment starts, or in both parts of the process.

When personal data will be treated, there are more requirements for the information to the participants, e.g. on storage and use of personal data. You can read more about requirements of informed consent here: http://www.nsd.uib.no/personvernombud/en/help/information_consent/


Rule 3: Personal information only when necessary

If your project does not need personal data, you should not ask for it. There should be a good reason to use personal data. If personal data is not needed, anonymity should be guaranteed for the participants.

If you need to use information that could identify participants (e.g. to examine an effect over time), the project is subject to notification and must be reported to NSD (Norwegian Centre for Research Data), the Data Protection Official for most institutions in Norway. Note that the NSD must be notified well in advance before the experiment is conducted. If your institution does not report to NSD, you report to The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, or to the relevant authorities in your country. If the data controller is located outside the EEA, a Norwegian institution must submit notification as the data controller’s representative. If you are in doubt about whether your project needs to be notified, check at NSDs pages: http://www.nsd.uib.no/personvernombud/en/index.html.

When the project is reported and approved, you can use the lab. If you do not collect any personal data and the experiment is anonymous, you can use the lab without approval from the NSD.

It is not possible to connect the participants' identity from the “participant pool” to their actions in a given experiment. This means that the lab ID of each participant must be disconnected from the experiment ID of each participant. One can still link the lab ID of a participant to participation in previous experiments. This gives us an overview of which experiments a participant has previously attended.


Rule 4: Paying the participants

Those who are responsible for the experiment can choose whether the participants should be paid or not. Clear information must be given about this before the experiment starts. It is not necessary to specify the exact amount of money that can be earned during the experiment - only for participation or attendance. If there are specific conditions regarding the payments, this must be clearly informed about.

If a participant withdraws from the experiment, payment must be conducted according to what has been promised.


Rule 5: Responsibility for the experiment

The researchers who create, conduct and analyze the experiment are also responsible for the experiment. If the researchers are students or others who receive formal guidance, then it is the supervisors who are responsible for the experiment and for compliance with the lab rules. Officially, the research institution is responsible for the project – ethically and legally. The researcher should therefore have cleared the study with its institution.


Rule 6: Responsibility for the lab

Those who are responsible for the experiment are also responsible for ensuring that the lab is completely cleared after an experiment has been conducted. The lab must be clean when you leave. It is also necessary to delete all data from the computers, and bring it with you. If the data are personally identifiable, this needs to be done within proper guidelines so the data cannot be opened by others. An encrypted memory stick is a suggestion here.


Rule 7: Cases of doubt

If in doubt about whether the experiment violates any of the lab rules, you are required to contact the lab management.


Rule 8: Application for use of the lab

To make use of the lab, researchers must fill out an application. The application shall include a statement that the lab rules are complied with. In this application the researcher must declare whether the applicant is a student under formal guidance, or not. If the applicant is a student under formal guidance, the supervisor must give his consent in the application. Priority is given to researchers that pay for use of the lab.  

If the experiment is subject to notification (see Rule 3), the researcher must receive approval from NSD before the experiment can be conducted. This approval should be attached the application for use of the lab.


Rule 9: Violation of the lab rules

Those responsible for the experiment are also responsible for ensuring that all lab rules are complied with. Violation of the lab rules may be sanctioned.