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Marwick, A. E., Blackwell, L., & Lo, K. (2016). Best Practices for Conducting Risky Research and Protecting Yourself from Online Harassment. Data & Society Research Institute.


Researchers conducting research into sensitive topics may face online harassment, social shaming, or other networked forms of abuse. The potential negative effects are myriad. It may be emotionally taxing for the researcher. More severe forms of harassment may pose physical danger to the researcher and their loved ones. False, misrepresented, or private information propagated by harassers may negatively impact the researcher’s reputation and/or career. If the researcher goes to their institution seeking help, their concerns may be ignored, misunderstood or not taken seriously. Ultimately, fear of harassment may have a chilling effect on the type of research that is conducted and the capabilities of individual researchers. This document is a set of best practices for researchers—especially junior researchers—who wish to engage in research that may make the researcher susceptible to online harassment.