Twitter trolls and polarised debate on Covid have caused almost one in four academics to scale back public engagement, says Elsevier study
Universities should publish clear guidelines about how they will support researchers who face online abuse, according to a report that reveals how often academics face social media vitriol for publicising their work.
Trolling is having a serious impact on scientific enquiry and the degree to which researchers are prepared to make claims that are contrary to the views of populist governments, politicians and leaders. It can have a serious impact upon people’s mental health and well being. This Times Higher Education piece makes an important point, research institutions should step up and be prepared to support any of their researchers who found themselves targeted by trolls.
Nearly a quarter of researchers (24 per cent) say the increased risk of bullying or harassment online is one of the main challenges to bringing more public attention to science.
“A hostile online environment will only make it more difficult for researchers to embrace a more public-facing role,” notes the report, Confidence in Research, which explores how the attitudes of scientists, scholars and researchers have changed because of the pandemic.
“While a safe online environment cannot be guaranteed, some researchers we engaged with felt unsupported by institutions in the face of online abuse.”