Search results: "harassment" Page 1 of 3

Three ways in which universities are unprepared to support faculty targeted by online harassment

Continuing our research into the technology-facilitated harassment and abuse that faculty members face, colleagues and I recently turned our attention to institutional policies and interviews with academic leaders to understand the ways in which institutions are (un)prepared to deal with faculty harassment. We published our results in Higher Education (which is a journal that I’ve been meaning to publish in for a while), and identified three areas of unpreparedness:

  • first, institutions focus on physical safety over non-contact harms (issue: the harms are numerous and multidimensional);
  • second, they envision perpetrators to be named, local, and part of the campus community (issue: anonymous harassment);
  • third, the reporting process is cumbersome and outpaced by the speed and frequency with which TFVA occurs.

These findings suggest areas for policy improvement and expanding academic leaders’ knowledge around the harassment that their faculty face.

You can find this paper here: Gosse, C., O’Meara, V., Hodson, J., & Veletsianos, G. (in press). Too rigid, too big, too slow: Institutional readiness to protect and support faculty from technology facilitated violence and abuse. Higher Education  or preprint (pdf).Read the rest

Who supports scholars who receive online harassment and how effective are those supports?

“Imagine you publish a paper detailing the results of research you spent two years working on. You are excited and decide to share your work on social media, both so people can hear about it, and also because you know your university has a public scholarship strategy in place that encourages doing so. Within hours, however, the abuse pours onto your post. First you are told your research is wrong or useless, and you are surprised at the negative attention given the innocuous subject of your work. But soon it snowballs into something worse, with users descending into more aggressive harassment and even threatening violence against you and your family. Distressed, eventually you pull the post, unwilling to tolerate the vitriol, feeling defeated and diminished. You weren’t prepared for such an outcome, and you aren’t entirely sure what to do next.”

The quote is from the introduction of our latest paper on the harassment that scholars experience. The paper asks: What coping and support mechanisms – other than deleting post – do scholars use? Where does that support come from? Does it come from friends and family? University? The legal system? How effective are those supports perceived to be?

This is our fourth harassment-focused paper (see first, second, and third). Using data from 182 survey participants,  we identified gaps in the support that scholars receive when they face harassment. We identified lack of support at the university level (administration and colleagues) and at the level of digital platforms. We also noted that attitudes and values about gender, race, academic work, and online life worsen the problem, as some scholars noted that they refrained from speaking about “controversial topics” online (i.e. a chilling silencing effect), and also that they often “felt responsible” for the harassment directed at them. The table below summarizes some of these findings

You can access the paper from the link below. If you don’t have library access, here is the author’s copy of the submitted paper.

Houlden, S., Hodson, J., Veletsianos, G., Gosse, C., Lowenthal, P., Dousay, T., & Hall, N., (in press). Support for Scholars Coping with Online Harassment: An Ecological Framework. Feminist Media Studies. the rest

New paper: The nature and effects of the harassment that scholars receive

My colleagues and I have a new paper available that examines various issues around scholars’ harassment. This one is led by soon-to-be-Dr. Chandell Gosse, and it is the third in a series of papers examining the topic. The first two are here. This work is based on a SSHRC Insight Development grant examining the harassment that faculty receive, which led to a current SSHRC Insight grant that my co-PI (Dr. Jaigris Hodson) and I are using to expanding our harassment-related research.

You can access the paper from the link below. If you don’t have library access, here is the author’s copy of the submitted paper.

Gosse, C., Veletsianos, G., Hodson, J., Houlden, S., Dousay, T., Lowenthal, P., Hall, N.C. (in press). The Hidden Costs of Connectivity: Nature and Effects of Scholars’ Online Harassment. Learning, Media, & Technology, xx-xx.


A growing body of research reveals that some scholars face online harassment and that such harassment leads to a wide variety of adverse impacts. Drawing on data collected from an online survey of 182 scholars, we report on the factors and triggers involved in scholars’ experiences of online harassment; the environments where said experiences take place, and; the consequences it has for personal and professional relationships. We find that online harassment is heavily entwined with the work, identity, and in some cases, the requirements of being a scholar. The online harassment scholars experience is often compounded by other factors, such as gender and physical appearance. We build on prior research in this area to further argue that universities ought to widen their scope of what constitutes workplace harassment and workplace safety to include online spaces.


There’s much in this paper that we think is valuable, but I thought the chart below is worthwhile to share. The figure shows a list of triggers that respondents said contributed to them receiving online harassment. Some of the conversation around the use of social media in education and social media for scholarship centers around the idea that being on social media may invite harassment. Such victim-blaming is not only unhelpful and demeaning, but it also misses the point that. Teaching activities can prompt harassment (e.g., via the sharing of recorded lectures in unfriendly groups), a paper that one writes, or a media appearance. 




 … Read the rest

Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse

For the last year or so, my colleagues and I have been working on a SSHRC-funded project examining the experiences of harassment that women academics face online. “We” refers to my colleagues Jaigris Hodson, and our two amazing research assistants Chandell Gosse and Shandell Houlden. We’re now at a point where we will start sharing artifacts from this work more and more broadly, including a wesbsite, scenario-based simulations, webinars, and, in due course, cc-licensed pedagogical materials to lead workshops on understanding and responding to online harassment.

Our first two papers sought to understand the experience of online harassment: what does it do? how do women cope with it? what supports do they use to respond to it?

These two papers are available below.

Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S., Hodson, J., Gosse, C. (2018). Women Scholars’ Experiences with Online Harassment and Abuse: Self-protection, Resistance, Acceptance, and Self-Blame. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4689-4708. [PDF Preprint]

Abstract: Although scholars increasingly use online platforms for public, digital, and networked scholarship, the research examining their experiences of harassment and abuse online is scant. In this study, we interviewed 14 women scholars who experienced online harassment in order to understand how they coped with this phenomenon. We found that scholars engaged in reactive, anticipatory, preventive, and proactive coping strategies. In particular, scholars engaged in strategies aimed at self-protection and resistance, while often responding to harassment by acceptance and self-blame. These findings have important implications for practice and research, including practical recommendations for personal, institutional, and platform responses to harassment, as well as scholarly recommendations for future research into scholars’ experiences of harassment.

Hodson, J., Gosse, C., Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S. (2018). I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends: The Ecological Model and Support for Women Scholars Experiencing Online Harassment. First Monday, 23(8). doi:

Abstract: This article contributes to understanding the phenomenon of online abuse and harassment toward women scholars. We draw on data collected from 14 interviews with women scholars from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and report on the types of supports they sought during and after their experience with online abuse and harassment. We found that women scholars rely on three levels of support: the first level includes personal and social support (such as encouragement from friends and family and outsourcing comment reading to others); the second includes organizational (such as university or institutional policy), technological (such as reporting tools on Twitter or Facebook), and sectoral (such as law enforcement) support; and, the third includes larger cultural and social attitudes and discourses (such as attitudes around gendered harassment and perceptions of the online/offline divide). While participants relied on social and personal support most frequently, they commonly reported relying on multiple supports across all three levels. We use an ecological model as our framework to demonstrate how different types of support are interconnected, and recommend that support for targets of online abuse must integrate aspects of all three levels.

Read the rest

Lola Olufemi and student/faculty social media harassment

Below is a short interview with Lola Olufemi. The description from the BBC reads “Lola Olufemi is 21 years old and Cambridge University Students’ Union Women’s Officer. She found herself on the front page of a national newspaper, the face of a campaign to “decolonise” the English curriculum at Cambridge University. She discusses with Jenni Murray how she feels she’s been scapegoated by the media and her fears for the impact this could have on other young, black women wanting to speak out.”

I was watching this unfold yesterday, and witnessed the racist and misogynistic tweets fly by. One of which came from a professor at a well-known unversity, and as I responded at the time, what sort of academic responds in such a vile way to a person, let alone a student. As was shared on Twitter the institution has policies processes to deal with the harassing faculty member, but the questions that have been preoccupying my thinking over the last few months is the following: In what ways should our universities respond to the harassment that their students and faculty receive online, and on social media in particular? What are the institutional and individual responsibilities when we encourage students and faculty to be present on social media?
Read the rest

About Me

Dr. George Veletsianos (Γιώργος Βελετσιάνος) is a Cypriot-Canadian academic, born and raised on the divided island of Cyprus. He now lives and works on the lands of the Dakhóta Oyáte (Dakota People), in Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota), where he is Professor in the Learning Technologies program at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He holds the Bonnie Westby Huebner Chair in Education and Technology, and prior to his current position he held the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Flexible Education. He is a former Fulbright scholar, a D’Arcy McGee Beacon fellow, a BCcampus Open Education and Advocacy fellow, and an early-career fellow of the EU Network of Excellence in Technology Enhanced Learning.

Dr. Veletsianos has been designing, developing, and evaluating digital learning environments for nearly 20 years. His research agenda is focused on addressing complex problems related to education and society, such as inequitable access and harassment that academics and knowledge workers are subjected to when they share their scholarship online. Because possible solutions to these difficult problems cut across multiple disciplines, his research has embraced collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and methodological pluralism.

His research agenda focuses on three strands: (1) design, development, and evaluation of online and blended learning environments , (2) the study of learning experiences and participation in emerging online environments, and (3) learning futures. In these contexts, he studies learners’ and faculty experiences with online learning, flexible education, networked scholarship, and emerging technologies and pedagogical practices.

Dr. Veletsianos wrote and/or edited four books, and has individually and collaboratively published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and reports. His latest book is Learning Online: The student experience (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020). He is recognized as one of the most cited researchers in the fields of education, online learning, and instructional design and technology (Baas, Koyak, & Ioannides, 2021; Bodily, Leary, & West, 2019; Bozkurk et al., 2015; Ioannides, 2023; Ratnasari, Chou, & Huang, 2024), but is skeptical of metrics and concerned about their (mis)use. He has received funding from such organizations as the Canada Research Chairs Program, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, National Science Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Learning.… Read the rest

Online workshop: What Can Researchers and Research Communicators Do to Address Online Abuse?,

Please consider the following invitation


If you have been subjected to online harassment as a result of discussing your work online, you might be interested in a virtual workshop being put on by researchers at Royal Roads University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and the University of British Columbia.

The online workshop, titled What Can Researchers and Research Communicators Do to Address Online Abuse?, happens November 23 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. PST. It’s specifically designed to support researchers and research communicators, but it’s open to everyone.

The workshop covers scenarios and strategies to protect yourself online, including how to limit the amount of data you expose online.

“None of us should have to deal with this alone,” Hodson says, adding that she and her team have met so many just doing that over the course of their research.

“I think people don’t realize that we could be a community. I think one of the broader goals for this and our work going forward is to help people recognize that they’re not alone and we really are stronger together.”

Learn more about the workshop and register now.

Workshop facilitators

Anatoliy Gruzd, Canada Research Chair in Privacy Preserving Digital Technologies, Toronto Metropolitan University

Anatoliy Gruzd is a Canada Research Chair in Privacy-Preserving Digital Technologies, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management and the Director of Research at the Social Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University. He is also a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and a founding co-chair of the International Conference on Social Media and Society. The broad aim of Gruzd’s various research initiatives is to understand how social media data can be used ethically to tackle a wide variety of societal problems from combating disinformation to helping educators navigate social media for teaching and learning.

Jaigris Hodson, Canada Research Chair in Digital Communication for the Public Interest, Royal Roads University.

Jaigris Hodson is a Canada Research Chair in Digital Communication for the Public Interest. She has published research in a wide range of academic publications and presented her work to national and international audiences. She has also published in non-academic publications such as The Evolllution and spoke at TEDX Victoria 2012. She is currently working on several SSHRC funded grant projects related to online harassment, anti social online behavior and digital misinformation. She is also a founding member of the Digital Public Interest Collective

Chris Tenove, Interim Director in the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, University of British Columbia

Chris Tenove is the interim director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI), and a researcher and instructor in the School of Public Policy & Global Affairs. He has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the challenges that digital media pose to democracy and human rights, focusing on topics such as electoral disinformation, social media regulation, and online harassment of politicians and health communicators. His policy reports on these topics include Trolled on the Campaign Trail: Online Incivility and Abuse in Canadian Politics (2020), Online Hate in the Pandemic (2022), and Not Just Words: How Reputational Attacks Harm Journalists and Undermine Press Freedom (2023). Prior to obtaining a PhD in Political Science, he worked in Canada and internationally as an award-winning journalist.

Victoria O’Meara, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher and co-Founder of the Digital Public Interest Collective

Victoria O’Meara is a post-doctoral researcher at Royal Roads University in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies. She received her PhD in Media Studies from Western University. Her research draws from critical political economy and intersectional feminism to examine issues related to work, technology, reputation, and influence in the digital media economy.… Read the rest

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