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The Development of Smart Contracts for Digital Artists: participant information

The Development of Smart Contracts for Digital Artists: participant information

You are being invited to take part in a research project. Before you decide to participate, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish. Ask us if there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this research being conducted?

Digital artists face many hurdles to success. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, were created with digital artists in mind to address some of these hurdles. One tool NFTs give artists is the ability to attach smart contracts – automated scripts – to their NFTs. Smart contracts are meant to give artists control over their work by allowing them to code their own terms of use. However, little research has been done to see how artists are using smart contracts in practice. In this research, I aim to compare digital artists’ expectations about smart contracts with the actual practices undertaken by artists and smart contract developers.

Why have I been invited to take part?

Part of this research involves interviewing digital artists. You have been invited to take part because you are a digital artist who is over 18 and has been producing digital art for at least one year. All participants were recruited through previous relationships with the researchers, through referrals from previous subjects, or from listings on social media. We plan to recruit 5 interviewees for this project.

Do I have to take part?

No. It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. You can withdraw yourself from the study, without giving a reason, without any negative consequences, by advising me of this decision at any point. The deadline by which you can withdraw any information you have contributed to the research is July 1st, 2022. If you decide to withdraw, any data you had provided up to that point will be destroyed as soon as possible.

What will happen to me if I take part in the research?

If you decide to take part in this research, you will participate in a one session, one-hour online interview via video conferencing. If it has not already been received, you will be sent an invitation from me containing a link to a video conference meeting for a previously determined date and time. Information on how to set up and use the video conferencing software will also be included. If you wish to do an audio only interview, please inform me of this beforehand.

On the day of the interview, I will read out a summary of the information you’ve read here and verbally take your consent to participate in this research. With your permission, the audio data for this will be recorded. I will also ask your consent for the rest of the interview to be recorded for an accurate recollection and to identify key points of interest across different interviews. Additionally, I will ask your consent to quote you directly in my final research paper. You may opt out of having an audio recording and still participate in the interview. You have the option to do a video conference or audio call only, but in either case, only audio data will ever be recorded. The interview will last no more than an hour.

During the interview, I will ask questions about your experience as a digital artist. Additionally, I will ask about what types of functions you would expect smart contracts to have and what functions you would want smart contracts to have. For those who have not minted an NFT before, I will ask these as a hypothetical. For those who have minted an NFT before, I will ask about your previous experience with smart contracts. This interview will be semi-structured, meaning that I will have questions prepared, but that we are free to go off-script.

You are not obligated to answer any question you don’t want to. If you wish to stop the interview at any time, you may do so with no consequences.

What are the possible disadvantages and risks in taking part?

Depending on one’s background, talking about your experiences as a digital artist may bring up difficult memories and may be uncomfortable, but you will not be asked to talk about or elaborate on any topics you find distressing.

Additionally, while your interview will be anonymous, there is a risk that your data will be deanonymized. To minimize this risk, I will only collect relevant personally identifiable data and only publish a few identifying features in the final paper (gender, nationality, number of years making digital art).

What are the advantages to taking part?

While there are no immediate benefits for those people participating in the project, we hope that this project will lead to a better understanding of how smart contracts are developed and used.

Expenses and payments

To thank you for your participation, we will send you a £10 Amazon giftcard (or the equivalent in your local currency).

What information will be collected and why is the collection of this information relevant for achieving the research objectives?

Identifiable data will be stored in an encrypted file on Oxford’s OneDrive for Business until 1 month after submission of this research to the examination board, in September 2022. This data includes your name and contact information. Other research data – including your gender, nationality, years as a digital artist, and the audio recording of the interview (if relevant), as associated with a participant number – will be stored for 3 years after publication or public release of the work of the research. This information will be collected in order to account for how these aspects of your identity may interact with the experiences of digital artists.

The researcher, the Principal Investigator, and the IT team will have access to the research data.

Will the research be published? Could I be identified from any publications or other research outputs?

The findings from the research will be written up in a thesis for the MSc. Social Data Science program at the University of Oxford. This paper may also be submitted to a conference or an academic journal.

Data in the published paper will be pseudo-anonymized, never referring to you by name, but may include the other characteristics mentioned in previous sections. No audio recordings will be made public, but if you have given your consent to be directly quoted, your quotations may appear in the paper. No quotations that contain any personally identifiable information will appear as is; if published, they may be modified to remove or replace any potentially sensitive information.

Data Protection

The University of Oxford is the data controller with respect to your personal data, and as such will determine how your personal data is used in the study. The University will process your personal data for the purpose of the research outlined above. Research is a task that is performed in the public interest. Further information about your rights with respect to your personal data is available on the Oxford University website: Individual Rights.


Who has reviewed this study?

This study has received ethics approval from a subcommittee of the University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee.


Who do I contact if I have a concern about the research or I wish to complain?

If you have a concern about any aspect of this study, please contact Sydney Kessler ( or Luc Rocher (, and we will do our best to answer your query. We will acknowledge your concern within 10 working days and give you an indication of how it will be dealt with. If you remain unhappy or wish to make a formal complaint, please contact the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford who will seek to resolve the matter as soon as possible:

Oxford Internet Institute Departmental Research Ethics Committee


Further Information and Contact Details

If you would like to discuss the research with someone beforehand (or if you have questions afterwards), please contact: