Winn W. Wasson: 0000-0001-5117-6813

Streaming Media

Document Type





misinformation, disinformation, research, intellectual freedom




Library and Information Science


The contemporary information landscape has produced numerous incidents of researchers having their research misrepresented or misappropriated—or worse, being subjected to intimidation and harassment—by individuals or groups who seek to cherry-pick evidence in support of ideological agendas or who wish to suppress evidence that counters those same agendas. While the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated these tactics in their frequency, visibility, and intensity, this phenomenon is by no means unique to the pandemic. Medievalists and Classicists have seen their research become politicized by white supremacists, and historians and archaeologists of ancient India have had to push back against religious nationalist narratives that contradict the factual evidence.

To help prepare graduate students and faculty for the possibility that their research might be misrepresented, misappropriated, or politicized in other ways by ideologically motivated individuals or groups, I created a workshop geared toward graduate students and faculty at my university, about the misrepresentation and misappropriation of research. Since Spring 2021, I have taught the workshop at least once each semester and have used participant feedback to improve each subsequent iteration.

The workshop’s content includes how to use social media and tools provided by a university library’s databases to keep current on one’s field of research and the public discourse surrounding it. It also covers options for responses to incidents, highlighting examples from the news of successful responses to the misrepresentation or misappropriation of research. This includes an activity in which workshop participants viewed videos of experts in various fields testifying before Congressional committees and identify and evaluate how the experts approached the Congresspersons’ or Senators’ slanted questions. Drawing on my own experience as a former community college political science instructor, I encourage participants to take advantage of teaching undergraduate courses and sections as opportunities to have a rehearsal space to apply these strategies by gauging how well a relatively uninitiated audience understands (or misunderstands) their research and testing responses that might clarify misconceptions about their research. The workshop emphasizes that participants should reach out to their current or future institution’s security if they felt threatened and concludes with the caveat that participants must take into consideration the interactions and intersections between aspects of their own identity and the identities of their audience when preparing for and implementing a response to a potential misrepresentation or misappropriation of their research.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.