Academic Free Speech and Digital Voices


Although academic free speech is an ideal in Higher Education, it is seldom realised in practice. External funders and powerful academic orthodoxies are often successful in stifling novel research that challenges the commercial status quo. This has been particularly evident in the Health Sciences, where research into promising low-cost solutions, such as low carbohydrate, healthy fat (LCHF) diets, remains poorly funded. The few science experts brave enough to study LCHF must negotiate scientific suppression, whereby authorities misrepresent The Science™ as settled, whilst actively stifling dissent. The first AFSDV theme raises awareness around this neglected concern.

In response to formal suppression, LCHF scholars are using popular social media platforms to successfully promote their research and motivate for policy change. The second AFSDV theme supports the study of scholars’ digital voices, both in promoting dissent, and also in negotiating suppression.  Research into academic cyberbullying is backed by a third theme, which has supported the definition of negative phenomena, like what online academic bullying (OAB) is, and what makes up an academic cyber mob. Mixed-methods and qualitative researchers are supported via a fourth theme that assists them with extracting social media data for analysis in their postgraduate studies, thereby broadening the field.

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Ongoing Research Studies

Digital Voices (DV)

Digital voices (DV)


To work around their silencing in Higher Education and the mainstream media, dissidents can exercise responsible free speech on digital platforms to grow support for their scientific contribution.  There is scant research regarding dissidents’ online practices, such as sharing state-of-the-art publications, or participating in related informal academic debates. TNF has sponsored the infrastructure that supports a better understanding of dissident’s digital voices on Twitter, and how such visibility assists them with disseminating unorthodox, but scientific, research.

Primary Research Outputs

A rationale for qualitative research using small data- beyond self-promotion via science article sharing on X’ and is be submitted to a new journal

Noakes, T. 2021, The value (or otherwise) of social media to the medical professional : some personal reflections. Current Allergy and Clinical Immunology, volume 34, issue 1, pages 23-29, March, 2021.

Secondary Research Outputs

  1. Noakes, T.  (2021, 4-6 March). From informal academic debate to cyber harassment – navigating the minefield as a responsible contributor [Conference presentation]. World Nutrition Summit, Cape Town, South Africa.

Other Outputs

1. Exemplary Digital Voices code report for Twitter reports and analysis.

2. Presentation on ‘A systematic literature review of academic cyberbullying- notable research absences in Higher Education contexts’.

3. An anti-chat harassment tactics booklet with the link.

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