VOX-Pol is pleased to present the latest report in its publication series, titled Online Extremism and Terrorism Researchers’ Security, Safety, and Resilience: Findings from the Field and authored by Elizabeth Pearson, Joe Whittaker, Till Baaken, Sara Zeiger, Farangiz Atamuradova, and Maura Conway.
The Researcher Security, Safety and Resilience project (REASSURE) launched in 2020 to document and detail online extremism and terrorism researcher welfare issues, as experienced by researchers themselves. This report is the culmination of REASSURE’s Phase One, ‘Talking to Researchers’. It is based on interviews with 39 online extremism and terrorism researchers from universities and think tanks in the UK, Europe, and North America about the welfare challenges they face while researching in this domain, gathering their experiences, detailing their coping mechanisms, and hearing from them about institutional supports.
Elizabeth Pearson, the lead author, said:
The REASSURE report, vitally, documents for the first time the harms online extremism and terrorism researchers can face, and how they seek to avoid them. It’s clear many researchers need better protections. Academic institutions need to take responsibility and work with researchers to ensure that important online fieldwork on extremism and terrorism is as safe as possible.
From the report:
Several interviewees reported that the experience of discussing the issue of harms for this research was helpful; indeed, some noted that it was the first time they had been asked about their experiences. One observed that the REASSURE interview was, in and of itself, ‘cathartic’.
Phase Two of REASSURE, entitled ‘Evolving Good Practice,’ is already underway, and will result in a report in which good practices from adjacent domains will be compiled, refined, and customised for deployment by online extremism and terrorism researchers and their institutions.
Finally, REASSURE’s Phase Three has as its aim production of an ethics and safety charter tailored for researchers active in the online extremism and terrorism space.
Find out more about the REASSURE project HERE.