Scholars Under Fire Variable Codebook | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

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Scholars Under Fire Variable Codebook

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Scholars Under Fire

Overview

FIRE researches targeting incidents involving scholars at public and private American institutions of higher education, including both community colleges, four-year institutions, and university affiliated research centers. Not all demands for sanction result in the scholar being penalized. In the database, we include incidents in which scholars were targeted, regardless of the results of their targetings. This codebook documents our methodology and allows researchers to understand exactly how each variable was coded. If you would like access to the data file, please email us at ScholarsUnderFire@thefire.org. We encourage researchers to use FIRE’s “Scholars Under Fire” data to conduct additional analyses and further our understanding of the targeting phenomenon.

Who is a scholar?

A scholar is any individual who engages in acts of scholarship within the academic domain and has an official affiliation with a college or university. This includes teaching at a college or university, conducting research and submitting the findings to the peer-review process, and/or discussing peer-reviewed scholarship at professional academic events (e.g., conferences, panel discussions).

For the purposes of this database, a scholar, based on this definition, includes: professors (assistant, associate, full, emeritus), lecturers (adjunct, clinical, instructors), postdoctoral researchers/research fellows/scholars at universities or university-affiliated research centers (e.g., Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study, Stanford University’s Hoover Institute), attending physicians (medical doctors working in university settings), graduate students (master’s, doctoral, law), and medical trainees (medical students, residents, fellows).

We exclude deans and other administrators who have never held a faculty position, as well as researchers working for non-university-affiliated organizations.

What is a targeting incident?

We define a targeting incident as a campus controversy involving efforts to investigate, penalize or otherwise professionally sanction a scholar for ideological reasons. A case where the individual(s) or group(s) expresses opposition to a scholar’s speech, but does not make any demands that the scholar and/or institution take action to remedy the situation, is not considered a targeting incident, and thus is not included in the database.

What details are recorded for each targeting incident?

For each targeting incident recorded, we document what was being expressed (topic); who was being addressed or talked about (subject); the reason for the expression (intent), and where the scholar’s speech took place (context.). Additionally, we identified those who initiated the targeting incident (source); how they want the scholar sanctioned (demands); and whether the targeting incident was initiated by those to the political left or right of the scholar (politics). We also included how the scholar reacted to the targeting incident (response); how the institution or administration reacted (administrative response); and the result of the targeting incident (outcome).

Demographics and Other Information

Variable Name year
Variable Description Year of incident.
Coding Year of incident
 
Variable Name scholar
Variable Description Name of scholar.
Coding Name of scholar
 
Variable Name school
Variable Description Name of the college/university where the scholar is employed.
Coding Name of school
 
Variable Name state
Variable Description State of the college/university.
Coding Name of state
 
Variable Name comm_college
Variable Description Is it a community college?
Coding No
Yes
 
Variable Name school_type
Variable Description Is it public or private?
Coding Public
Private
 
Variable Name school_religion
Variable Description Religious denomination of the college/university.
Coding Nonsectarian
Baptist
Catholic
Christian
Evangelical
Jesuit
Lutheran
 
Variable Name fire_rating
Variable Description FIRE speech rating of college/university.
Coding Warning
Red
Yellow
Green
No rating
 
Variable Name chicago
Variable Description Has the college/university adopted the Chicago principles?
Coding No
Yes
 
Variable Name field_dept
Variable Description Scholar’s academic field or department.
Coding Name of department
 
Variable Name rank
Variable Description Scholar’s rank.
Coding Graduate student
Postdoctoral researcher
Research fellow
Volunteer
Adjunct
Lecturer
Clinical
Specialist
Assistant
Associate
Full
Emeritus
Visiting scholar
 
Variable Name tenure
Variable Description Scholar’s tenure status.
Coding Tenure not offered
Untenured
Tenure track
Tenured
Emeritus
 
Variable Name gender
Variable Description Scholar’s gender.
Coding Female
Male
Something else
 
Variable Name race
Variable Description Scholar’s race/ethnicity.
Coding American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian
Black or African American
Hispanic/Latino
Middle Eastern
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
White
Multiracial
 
Variable Name pol_snctattmpt
Variable Description Politics of the sanctioner(s) relative to the scholar?
Coding 1 = To the left
2 = To the right
0 = Unclear or Irrelevant
 
Variable Name petitions_sanction
Variable Description Number of petitions calling for sanctioning the scholar.
Coding Total number of petitions
 
Variable Name psnct_signatories
Variable Description Total number of signatories on all petitions calling for sanctioning the scholar.
Coding If number of signatories is unknown, then “unknown”;
If no petitions_sanction, then blank; otherwise, number of signatories
 
Variable Name petitions_defend
Variable Description Number of petitions defending the scholar.
Coding Total number of petitions
 
Variable Name pdfnd_signatories
Variable Description Total number of signatories on all petitions defending the scholar.
Coding If number of signatories is unknown, then “unknown”;
If no petitions_defend, then blank; otherwise, number of signatories

 

Intent of Scholar’s Expression

Variable Name accident
Variable Description Were the scholar’s words or actions not intended to be expressed publicly?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name activism_change
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar’s words or actions to encourage activism and/or express support for a cause?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name benign_friendly
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar’s words or actions to make a joke and/or a friendly, innocuous remark?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name malicious_hate
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar’s words or actions to offend, upset, show contempt for, and/or approve of violence against a person or group?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name own_views
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar’s words or actions to criticize a person or group and/or to express a personal view on a controversial social issue?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name pedagogy
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar's words or actions to present sensitive, controversial, and/or difficult content (e.g., quoting racial slurs) to provoke discussion and learning?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name sci_inquiry
Variable Description Was the intent of the scholar’s words or actions to discuss scholarship, conduct research and/or to present or test an idea?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name unclear
Variable Description Was the scholar’s intent not clear?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Focus of Scholar’s Expression

Variable Name abortion
Variable Description Was the focus of expression support for, or opposition to, abortion?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name climate
Variable Description Was the focus of expression climate change and/or environmentalism?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name court
Variable Description Was the focus of expression a court trial?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name covid
Variable Description Was the focus of expression COVID- 19 origins, calling it the “China” virus, and/or the response to it?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name elections
Variable Description Was the focus of expression the 2016, 2018, or 2020 elections, the Capitol Hill protest/riot, voting procedures, and/or ballot initiatives?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name foreign_affairs
Variable Description Was the focus of expression international affairs and/or conflicts?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name free_speech
Variable Description Was the focus of expression freedom of speech?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name gender
Variable Description Was the focus of expression misogynist slurs, sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender inequality, transgenderism, and/or Title IX procedures?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name immigration
Variable Description Was the focus of expression illegal immigration, laws restricting immigration, and/or differences between immigrants and non-immigrants, or non-citizens and citizens?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name inst_policy
Variable Description Was the focus of expression institutional conflicts of interest, funding, grants, outside pressure, and/or DEI policy?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name israel_palestine
Variable Description Was the focus of the expression Anti-Zionism, the BDS movement, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and/or Zionism?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name mental_health
Variable Description Was the focus of expression psychological disorders or other mental-health issues?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name partisanship
Variable Description Was the focus of expression explicit mention of a political candidate and/or party (e.g., conservatives, liberals, left, right)?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name police_protests
Variable Description Was the focus of the expression BLM, ACAB, Defund the Police, Antifa, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Back the Blue, and/or misconduct by or directed at the police?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name race
Variable Description Was the focus of expression racial slurs, racial inequality, racial identity, historical racism, DEI, and/or BLM?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name religion
Variable Description Was the focus of expression Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, and/or Judaism?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name second_amend
Variable Description Was the focus of expression support for gun rights or gun control?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name socioecon_status
Variable Description Was the focus of expression economic inequality?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name sexuality
Variable Description Was the focus of expression homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and/or other same-sex issues?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name terrorism
Variable Description Was the focus of expression terrorists and/or terrorist activity?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Subject of Scholar’s Expression

Variable Name admin
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at administrators/the administration?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name asnppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Asian people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name blkppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Black people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name chinsppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Chinese people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name chrstppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Christians/Catholics?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name feminists
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at feminists?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name gradstdnts
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at a graduate/law student or student(s)?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name hspppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Hispanic people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name immigrant
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at legal and/or illegal immigrants?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name jewppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Jewish/Israeli people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name left
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at liberals, democrats, and/or Biden or Clinton supporters?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name lgbqppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at LGBQ people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name medical
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at doctors and/or other medical experts?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name men
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at men?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name musppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Muslims?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name natam
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Native Americans?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name palstppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at Palestinian people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name plaint_defend
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at a plaintiff and/or defendant in a court trial?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name police
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at police officers?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name politician
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at a politician or at politicians?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name pubfig
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at a public figure or at public figures?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name religfig
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at a religious figure or at religious figures?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name right
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at conservatives, republicans, and/or Trump supporters?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name scholars
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at another scholar or other scholars?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name transppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at transgender people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name ugstdnts
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at an undergraduate student or students?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name whtppl
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at White people?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name women
Variable Description Were the words or actions directed at women?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Context of Scholar’s Expression

Variable Name classroom
Variable Description Was the context of expression the classroom or a virtual classroom, a course syllabus, and/or an exam?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name direct_interact
Variable Description Was the context of expression an in-person or otherwise direct interaction?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name email_text
Variable Description Was the context of expression an email, letter, or message to a student, scholar, administrator, or any combination of the above.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name oped_blog
Variable Description Was the context of expression an op-ed or blog?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name pro_responsible
Variable Description Was the context of expression a meeting, resolution, training, event, forum, and/or other setting?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name public
Variable Description Was the context of expression a public interview, speech, statement, or podcast?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name rally_protest
Variable Description Was the context of expression an on- or off-campus party, protest or rally?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name scholarship
Variable Description Was the context of expression peer-reviewed research, scholarship, book, conference, panel, talk, and/or symposium?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name socmedia
Variable Description Was the context of expression social media?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Source of Targeting Incident

Variable Name src_actvst
Variable Description Was a grassroots campaign or activist organization the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_admin
Variable Description Was an administrator or the administration the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_alum
Variable Description Was an alumnus/alumna or a group of alumni the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_anon
Variable Description Was the source of the sanction attempt anonymous?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_corp
Variable Description Was a corporation the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_fac
Variable Description Was another scholar or a group of scholars the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_genpub
Variable Description Was the general public the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_govt_pol
Variable Description Was the government, a politician, or a group of politicians the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_grad
Variable Description Was a grad/law student or were grad/law students the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_pubfig
Variable Description Was a public figure or a group of public figures the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_stkprnt
Variable Description Was a donor, stakeholder, and/or parent the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name src_ug
Variable Description Was an undergrad student or were undergrad students the source of the sanction attempt?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Specific Demands

Variable Name dmd_apo_condem
Variable Description Apology from scholar, condemnation of scholar by university, apology from university.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_chng_poli
Variable Description Changes to university/official policies or practices, offer resources/space for affinity groups & race-based work, hire more racially diverse scholars.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_censor
Variable Description Audit, change grades or curriculum, cancel or alter course, stop research study in progress or retract research/scholarship/book/op-ed or boycott the journal for refusing to retract.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_demote
Variable Description Demotion and/or removal of emeritus status.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_list
Variable Description Was there a list of demands?
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_suspend
Variable Description Suspend, place on leave, remove from the classroom, restrict teaching duties.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_terminate
Variable Description Fire, do not hire, resign, revoke tenure.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_train
Variable Description Mandatory training for the scholar and/or all scholars.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name dmd_vague_investigate
Variable Description Call for investigation and/or some vague, unspecified consequences.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Scholar’s Response

Variable Name prof_context
Variable Description Assert that expression was misinterpreted or taken out of context.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_deny
Variable Description Deny that the incident occurred or was done by them.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_leave
Variable Description Voluntarily resign/step down, retire, take a voluntary leave of absence.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_nocmnt
Variable Description None/no comment
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_notwrong
Variable Description Refusal to concede any wrongdoing.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_regret
Variable Description Apologize, express regret; delete, hide, or otherwise modify evidence of expression.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name prof_sue
Variable Description File/threaten to file a lawsuit or other form of grievance against the institution and/or those calling for sanctions.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Administration’s Response

Variable Name apologize
Variable Description Issue a public apology and/or condemnation of the scholar’s expression, with or without mentioning the scholar by name, and explain that the university is trying to gather more information.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name chngexpress
Variable Description Require/request that the scholar not express themselves that way again.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name investigate
Variable Description Open an investigation.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name no_comnt
Variable Description None/no comment.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name reqtrain
Variable Description Require the scholar to participate in a training session or sessions.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name support
Variable Description Publicly support the scholar’s expression, explicitly refuse to take action against the scholar, and/or criticize/disagree with the scholar’s expression, but state that it’s protected by the First Amendment and/or campus policies protecting free speech.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name suspend
Variable Description Place the scholar on paid or unpaid leave; relieve the scholar of teaching duties; suspend the scholar indefinitely or for a certain period.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name terminate
Variable Description Terminate scholar’s contract; fail to renew scholar’s contract; revoke the scholar’s contract extension.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes

 

Outcome of Targeting Incident

Variable Name no_sanction
Variable Description No sanction.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_censored
Variable Description Forbidden from conducting research; course canceled or otherwise altered; research or op-ed retracted; publication delayed; disinvited; talk canceled or shut down; agreed not to engage in that expression again.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_demoted
Variable Description Scholar demoted from position or lost emeritus status.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_investigated
Variable Description Title IX or other investigation.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_left
Variable Description Scholar resigned/stepped down voluntarily; retired.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_proftrain
Variable Description Scholar took training(s).
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_reinstate
Variable Description Scholar was reinstated after being suspended and/or terminated.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_suspended
Variable Description Scholar placed on paid or unpaid leave; partially, temporarily, or permanently relieved of teaching duties; suspended indefinitely or for a certain period of time.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes
 
Variable Name out_terminated
Variable Description Scholar not hired; contract terminated; contract not renewed; contract extension revoked; tenure revoked; forced resignation.
Coding 0 = No
1 = Yes