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Digital Safety for Open Researchers

We're creating a GitBook OER that will help researchers work open with confidence in their digital safety!

Image of life preserver and open access logo on an orange background. Text reads "Digital Safety for Open Researchers"

If a researcher is concerned that their research might make them a target for online harassment, can this create a chilling effect on academic or intellectual freedom? If a researcher has been doxxed or cyberbullied, will they think twice about what they research next? Researchers who make their work publicly accessible, especially those from underrepresented or marginalized communities, can come under vicious personal and professional online attack. This can be a real issue for those who research topics the public may define as controversial. Currently, there are few academic institutions proactively working to educate researchers on digital safety, and many researchers are unsure of how to prevent or remedy attacks on their digital privacy. As project leaders, we believe that raising awareness about researchers’ digital safety and privacy is one way help to safeguard intellectual freedom in the digital age.

Digital Safety for Open Researchers will produce an open educational resource (OER) for members of the higher education community looking to mitigate digital safety threats while working and teaching open. We hope to bring together researchers who will share their stories and suggest tools and practices based on their experiences. Our OER will be a living collection of case studies and modules that present tools and practices researchers can learn from as they consider their own digital safety. Module examples include “Preventing and Responding to Doxxing and Cyberbullying” and “Surveillance of Scholars and Activists;” view the entire module outline here. We will follow Chad Sansing’s model of hosting our OER in GitBooks.

Who We Are

We are a team of librarians and staff from the University of Washington. Why are Libraries interested in this topic? Libraries aspire to make sure all voices are represented and heard in the scholarly conversation. Fears of online bullying, trolling, and overall digital safety are beginning to limit our researchers from sharing their work openly and teaching open scholarship skills in the classroom. We would like to provide researchers and instructors with digital safety skills to empower them in sharing their work. Our hope is to have this OER shared and expanded on by other researchers and academic institutions. This collaborative, open effort will help us all pool our knowledge to create the best possible resource and by working open we will ensure that everyone has equitable access to this resource.

Participation Guidelines

We want everyone working on this project to feel safe and secure. To that end, we’ve created these guidelines for contributors (which are also a starting point for developing a community agreement for contributors):

  • Be respectful and inclusive.
  • Recognize the disparate and intersectional effect that digital safety issues have on marginalized students, teachers, and researchers
  • Support and value open research.
  • Agree that any materials you submit will be made available under a CC BY NC Creative Commons License.

Consequences for not following these guidelines may result in:

  • Editing access will be removed.
  • Questionable edits will be evaluated by the editorial board and potentially removed.

Please review our community agreement prior to working on this project.

How to Get Involved

We could use your help with the following:

  • Build out content for modules:
    • Share your own story about a digital safety problem
    • Add information to our "Highlighted Tools and Resources" sections
    • Write annotations for articles and other resources in our "Additional Resources" sections
  • Provide expertise on digital safety and law
  • Provide expertise on creating good education texts
  • Provide expertise on tools and practices for digital safety
  • Provide perspective from computer science, communication, journalism, activism, and other relevant fields
  • Share successful privacy expertise and teaching exercises relevant to the module topics
  • Contribute to our community agreement

Please review our contributor guidelines prior to working on this project.

You can explore our current issues to see how you can contribute!

Why Contribute to This Project?

  • You will be part of a collective project that can be reused.
  • Share your expertise with your colleagues.
  • Your work will be acknowledged publicly as a GitBook contributor.
  • A book like this does not exist for those working openly in academia.

This is your opportunity to help us get started with this innovative project.

Contact Information

Twitter: @OpenDigSafety


Join us at the Mozilla's Global Sprint May 10-11, 2017! We'll be gathering in-person at sites around the world and online to collaborate on this project and learn from each other. Get your #mozsprint tickets now!

Global Sprint


Digital Safety for Open Researchers




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