Yesterday I had all sorts of things planned for after work, including several blogs. It was nine o’clock and almost dark by the time that I got my bike locked up and covered, and myself up the stairs for a cup of tea.
Due to tiredness I abandoned everything except for a telphone chat with my Dad and the letter to the university with my questions on “Research, or spam?” -
How glad I was that I did both. Dad and I enjoyed talking with each other very much, and we were both very chatty, despite being tired. He had had a long day too, out with his younger brother on the Norfolk Broads. The email on, spam or not spam, resulted in a reply almost immediately. I was in bed by the time that this came in but it was ready and waiting for me in my in-box this morning.
A strange thing is that my reply email this morning was immediately returned by the Mail Delivery Subsystem which told me that this email address had already been marked as spam!!!!
I now know that Gill Maguire has also received this same original email request. She mentions on her blog that the form that the email takes gives her too cause for concern, even though she is used to requests for information from all over the world.
In my letter to the Associate Dean (Research) of the university in question, I pointed out that it was the “tone, phrasing, lack of supportive information and potential to cause anxieties to recipients” that had caused me concern. These had given me doubts as to whether the email request that I received was genuine.
The Associate Dean replied that the form that this email took does indeed give cause for concern, and that she was thankful that I had brought it to the university’s attention. It was confirmed to me that the university does have a rigorous policy for ensuring that research ethics are attended to, and that this includes the manner in which participation (in this case my own particular help) in a research project is sought.
So is it spam after all?
Interestingly, the Associate Dean is of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that this approach to me, and now also to Gill asking, for our “help”, is genuine. I have asked her to inform me if it turns out that it is indeed the genuine article.
Thank you to Andrew Sutton, Freddy, László Szögeczki and Emma McDowell for their comments on my previous posting. Gill Maguire has her own posting on the matter at:
I am still wondering where the author of these emails found our email addresses, if not on our blogs. I also wonder why, if as Andrew Sutton still suspects they are genuine, the author has not come forward and told us so.
At the moment we are all still guessing, including the Associate Dean (Research).