It's better to burn out than it is to rust ~ Neil Young

4R’s and Social Science

I am reflecting on are class visit by Dr. Veletsianos and our reading of some of his works.  His joint-investigations into negative online behaviour (both with online comment boards and on harassment of women scholars) was timely for our cohort as we consider online platforms and the integration of technology in our practice and in this program.

When considering the 4Rs of our Research Methodologies course (research, researcher, researched, reader), I am interested in who the intended audience (reader) was for his work on women scholars.  Our connections online and our conduct within these communities is something in which we all have ownership stake.  While I am appalled by the types of negative comments that I have read on comment boards, and am familiar with the term “trolling,” I have not experienced this personally.  By examining women scholars specifically, does Dr. Veletsianos limit the interest of he and his colleague’s findings to a specific group of people – namely scholars?  He specifically mentions the rationale for studying scholars specifically (in that it is understudied), but by narrowing the research, I feel the study limits its impact to affect change in peoples behaviours.  It is of my opinion that scholarly research in social sciences is performed with the goals of not only elucidation of a particular topic, but also to inform policy around that topic and/or influence if not a segment of society then society as a whole (where possible).  Were any dissemination techniques, besides publication in a journal, considered to spread this research and highlight its impact to the populace?  Was the intent to inform scholars only, or to create generalizable inferences?

I looked further into harassment research and found a very interesting autoethnographic study ABOUT harassment of autoethnographers:

“Apparently Being a Self-Obsessed C**t Is Now Academically Lauded”: Experiencing Twitter Trolling of Autoethnographers” by Elaine Campbell.

This study represents a perfect example of “resistance” coping (“scholars’ refusal to accept or remain silent or passive in response to harassment“) mentioned as a strategy by women scholars mentioned in the work of Dr. Veletsianos and his colleagues.   And as a bonus, it is a very engaging read.

Further to this, I am interested in if the various coping strategies undertaken by the participants would differ with male scholars (researched).  Or does the type of strategies differ by age of participant or severity of harassment (research)? How has the data affected Dr. Veletsianos personally and professionally (researcher)? As mentioned, are the findings generalizable for all females on social media?  And finally, what are the implication to my classroom practice and my students?  What do I need consider further if I allow my students to make their learning public in a forum that allows for comments?

What are your thoughts?


PHOTO: “231 everyone is policymaker” by Sustainable Economies Law Center is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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