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IMHO, LOL and the others: Academics facing trolling and online harassment in Europe

AG Prof. Dr. Hande Elsen-Ziya

Academic research is currently undergoing a wave of contestation, ranging from violent attacks and life-threatening situations to public undermining of their research and online threats and harassment. Such perpetrators range from ordinary people attacking single researchers, to state institutions, targeting a group of scholars working in diverse disciplines and topics like climate change, vaccination, gender studies, colonialism, and Islam studies.

Depending on who the targeted groups are (women, minority groups etc.) and by whom they are under attack, the long-term effects of harassment can be damaging (Amnesty International 2018) and learning ways to cope becomes vital. This working group by focusing specifically on the coping strategies of academics facing online harassment will acknowledge the academic milieu where online presence is encouraged while mechanisms to deal with digital hate, trolling and contestation are not dealt with. The activities proposed in this working group – exploring online harassment addressing academics and increase scholars’ resilience by gathering best practices and unsuccessful experiences and drafting tentative guidelines to start dealing with this issue – aims to fill this very gap.

Our objectives include: 

  • mapping out the most prominent cases of online harassment involving academics, investigating how they play out in different platforms and exploring the strategies adopted by scholars and their institutions; 
  • discussing positive and negative aspects of the different strategies of coping with digital harassment; 
  • drafting guidelines and best practices to be adopted to deal with various types of online harassment, including a list of resources; 
  • making the preparatory work for applying for a collaborative international research project focusing on academics’ online harassment, emotional and concrete effects, strategies and best practices to deal with complex online situations

IMHO, LOL and the others: academics facing trolling and online harassment in Europe
17. – 18.01.2023


Prof. Dr. Hande Elsen-Ziya
University of Stavanger