[Air-L] Kefuffle researching fanfic/fandom

Katy E. Pearce kpearce at umail.ucsb.edu
Wed Sep 2 16:38:33 PDT 2009

A case study of what not to do when trying to research Internet-based

For those of you not on LiveJournal academics_anon, here's the summary,
quoted from the community post:

"A researcher affiliated with Boston University named Ogi Ogas decided to do
a survey of various LiveJournal fanfiction/fandom groups. Unfortunately:
1. Despite repeatedly mentioning his association with BU, it appears he
never got IRB approval.
2. This research wasn't even for a project at BU; it was for a privately
published book. (A book titled, incidentally, Rule 34: What Netporn Teaches
Us About The Brain. I am not making this up.)
3. Because of the subject, the survey was quite explicit in some parts (and
flat-out triggering in others). Yet it was posted to all-ages communities
with nothing even resembling a warning.
4. After criticism of a number of the questions (on counts ranging from
cisgender and heterosexual privilege to just plain squick), the researcher
actually changed the survey while data was still actively being collected.
5. Edited to add: Oh yeah, and some of the questions had to do with illegal
drugs and sexual activity, despite there being no privacy statement or
anything else of the sort."

Summaries of the drama:

And the questionnaire itself:

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