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Rules for researchers and students

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The old rules for researchers and students as well as those for the Research Approval Board have been replaced by the following, revised, rules:



Rules for using AVEN for research.

The asexual community is very interested in promoting research on asexuality, and we want to do what we can to help researchers in their work. To help ensure the well-being of members of AVEN and to promote communication with members of the asexual community throughout the research project, we ask researchers to follow a few rules:

For researchers wanting to recruit participants from AVEN:

1) All calls for participants must be reviewed prior to approval by AVEN's Research Approval Board before being posted. After approval research requests are posted on the research subforum by the Dedicated Research Contact or another member of the Project Team. Please send requests for research calls to the Project Team email address aven.pt@gmail.com, or send a pm to a member of the Project Team.

The following will be required for review: a basic description of the study, the consent form and the participant information sheet. If you do not have a consent form, please state how you will ensure the protection of participants, and details on how you will communicate this information to them. If it is a survey-based study, please send copies of all surveys that will be used. If it is an interview based study, sending all interview questions may not be feasible, so in such cases, please send a basic description of the questions that will be asked. Please also let us know if your study is approved by your university or other institution's ethics board or equivalent.

We also ask that everyone researching asexuality to please read Asexual Awareness Week 2011's Open Letter to Researchers.

2) Studies involving any of the following categories listed below (higher scrutiny) must be approved by admod, project and declass teams through formal vote, unless they are approved by the university's ethics board or equivalent. If your study falls into one of the listed categories, we will require further details on why you regard the below as being necessary, and how you will ensure the safety and confidentiality of the research participants.

The categories are:

A) Studies that require collecting legal names.
B) Studies requiring participants to meet with the researcher in person.


Studies involving individuals who have not reached the age of majority, as defined by the jurisdiction in which the researcher(s) live, and has questions where it is likely that some participants may give out personally identifying information, have to be approved by admord, project and declass teams through formal vote regardless of ethics board approval.


For students collecting data for a class paper:

1) For students wanting to collect data for a class paper, you do not need to send a formal request to aven.pt@gmail.com if

a) the data will only be used for a class paper, and
b) none of questions would be likely to result in anyone giving personally identifiable information.

2) If your class research project fits a, b, and c above, then you do not need to email aven.pt@gmail.com. However, we do request that you do the following:

a) To ensure that the data is collected anonymously, even with respect to AVEN names, we request that the survey be posted off-site on one of the survey-hosting websites that exist on the internet. Please also make sure that the purpose of the study and your contact data are provided.
b) Before posting the survey, please PM or email one or more of the members of the Project Team, introducing yourself to them and providing a link to the survey. Please do not post the survey until you have received permission to do so.

3) If your class research project involves interviews, if you would like to use the data for something beyond just the class paper, or if your survey does not meet (1a)-(1c) above, then you need to follow the procedures given in “For researchers wanting to recruit participants from AVEN.”

4) The rules given in “For researchers wanting to use existing data on the AVEN forums” apply to class papers, even in cases where recruitment rules do not apply.

For researchers wanting to use existing data on the AVEN forums:
(Note: These only concern posts on the forums. These do not apply to Asexual Perspectives, information on AVEN's main page, AVEN's FAQ's, the AVENwiki, or AVENues.)

1)You are encouraged to email research@asexuality.org to inform us about your research. This will allow us to direct you to any resources that may be helpful to your research, or to put you in contact with people with similar interests.

2) If you quote any post on the AVEN forums, prior permission must be obtained from the poster. This can generally be done by PMing the individual in question. Note: Sending private messages requires you having made an account on AVEN.

Should you not receive a response from the member, or the member is no longer active on the forum, you do not have permission to quote the members posts, and any request to quote from the same member is automatically denied.

In addition to the above, researchers are encouraged to take a look at Asexual Explorations and the AVENwiki, and are encouraged to join the Asexual Studies Mailing List.

Links for researchers:

We strongly advise any researcher making a request also read the following:




Media requests

Requests that are more characteristic for media than research do not fall under these rules. The Media Contact or another member of the Project Team should be contacted about these prior to an announcement. Criteria for media are typically the following:

  • participant information is not treated anonymously
  • the outcome is a narration rather than an analysis of data

When a research request is made

If a request is made but is not emailed to the Project Team email address aven.pt@gmail.com, or send a pm to a member of the Project Team, this likely means that the person has not read the public requirements. In such a case, whoever receives the request should respond by directing the requestee to the publicly posted rules.

If a request is sent to the Project Team,  a member of the PT will create a new thread in the Research Approval Board (RAB) forum, stating that a request has been made. If not all of the required materials are included, a member of the PT will inform the researcher of this and state in the RAB thread that they have done so. In such a case, no further action needs to be taken until this request is complied with. Which member of the PT will be primarily responsible for communicating with the researcher(s) in any given case is a matter to be determined by the PT.

If a request is made and all required materials are included, one of two things will happen depending on whether the request falls into one of the categories requiring heightened scrutiny or not. (These categories are listed in the public rules.)

a) Regular Research Requests:
If the call for participants does not fall into a heightened scrutiny category, a poll is made in the Research Approval Board (RAB) forum. This poll will have four options: Approve; Revise and Resubmit; Reject; and Abstain. By default, polls will last for 48 hours. If any member of the RAB feels that more time is needed for discussion, they can say so in the thread and the duration of the poll will be extended to 96 hours from the start of the poll. If any option has a majority of potential votes before the time set for the poll to close, any member of the PT may declare the poll closed and that the option with the majority of votes wins. The request must have a majority vote to approve (out of those that voted). A minimum of 3 members must vote to approve the request.


Voting: If, at the end of the voting period, any option has the majority of votes (excluding Abstain votes), that is regarded as the winner. If there is no majority but Approve and Revise and Resubmit combined have a majority, a runoff poll lasting two days is held with Approve, Revise and Resubmit, and Abstain as the options; if the runoff poll ends in a tie, Revise and Resubmit wins. In a main poll, if there is no majority and Revise and Resubmit and Approve do not have a combined majority, the study is rejected.


b) Heightened Scrutiny:

If a study is designated as requiring heightened scrutiny, a member of the PT needs to contact the researcher(s) to set up a time to discuss with them the concerns that cause it to require heightened scrutiny. In some instances, it may be necessary to contact other people at the individual’s university as well. Once the PT member(s) has/have had a chance to talk to the researcher(s), the PT member(s) who talked with the researcher(s) will write a summary of their discussion, along with a recommendation to approve; to approve pending revisions; or disapprove. If the PT member has concerns, these should be made as additional comments within the summary.


A separate thread for that study will be made in the Admods Only forum in addition to the RAB forum. In this thread, the report from the PT member, along with the materials sent in the research request, will be posted. This thread will have a poll that admods, declass and PT may vote in, and it will have four options: Approve; Revise and Resubmit; Reject; and Abstain. At the end of the voting time period, the majority position wins, and a member of the PT will inform the researcher accordingly. In the case of Revise and Resubmit, specific recommendations must be made. The option “Reject” should be used very sparingly.


In the event of no majority at the ending of the voting period, the number of votes in Revise & Resubmit and Reject will be counted together, and considered as “Do not accept as is”. If this total is greater than the Approve vote, a second round of voting will take place, this time with the following voting options: Revise and Resubmit; Reject; and Abstain. If there is still no majority at the end of the second vote, the study will be automatically rejected.

Explanation of the voting options:

Approve: If the decision is to approve the study, a member of the PT will inform the researcher(s), of the decision, along with information relevant to posting the study. The researcher(s) will then either have the option of posting it themselves, or requesting either a member of the admod, or PT teams to post it on their behalf.

Revise and Resubmit: If the members of the Research Approval Board, or in case of higher scrutiny requests members of admods, project and declass teams are generally OK with the study, but have certain concerns and reservations, Revise and Resubmit can be opted for. Comments and specific recommendations for alterations are to be made within the voting thread. If this option has the majority of votes, the Project Team will then confer with each other, taking the recommendations into account, to determine what changes will be requested, and to draft a letter to the researcher(s),informing them of the alterations that are required. If the study is resubmitted, the modified version of the study will again be voted on.

Reject: This option should rarely be used. When it is used, the researcher should be made aware of the reasons for the rejection.

Abstain: This option should only be used if any of the admod team feels unable to participate in the vote. Again, as with reject, this is an option that should be rarely used, as ideally the entire of the admod and PT teams should participate in the vote.


Directions for admods:

When a study is under consideration, mention of it should be made in the pinned thread about research requests [it may later be modified to include media requests].

If you find a research participant request in a forum that you moderate, please check the research thread in admods. If it has been approved, please make a comment in the thread that the study has been approved (unless another admod/PT has already done so.) If there is no mention of it being approved, check the PT forum and admod forums to see if there are any recent threads about it. If not, PM the OP directly, referring them to the research rules thread, and the correct procedure for such requests, and delete the thread. Please indicate that you have done this in the pinned research thread in admods.

The default for participant requests is that they are to be posted in the research subforum. If you find such a request in a forum (other than Announcements) that you moderate, and do not have any indication that it should be posted in your forum, please contact the Dedicated Research Contact or another member of the Project Team and move the corresponding thread to the RAB or PT forum.

When a/the researcher is in either the admod, declass or PT teams or the Research Approval Board:
If a study is submitted for approval and one of the members of the research team/someone who intends to be the author or a co-author of work using the data is a member of the group/one of the groups voting on the study (i.e. PT for polls in PT, or PT/admods for votes in admods), that individual must vote Abstain. They should limit their discussion in the relevant thread to answering questions that other individuals have and should not argue for any particular voting result.


Sub forum for Research Advertisements

Title: Asexuality Research and Studies

Located: In the Welcome Category below Announcements

Moderators: The Project Team plus 1 Moderator to regulate moderator duties in the threads (Optional Admins)


Specific Rules of the Subforum:

-Research Advertising Threads Only

-All Threads Must have a deadline date
-Trigger Warnings must be placed in the title if necessary



Research Approval Board and Research Approval Subforum.

Group Name: AVEN Research Approval Board
Default Core Members: All Active Administrators and Project Team Members
Additional Members Group A: Any Moderator or Declass Team Staff Upon Request (No Rejection While In Staff Position)

Additional Members Group B: Previous AVEN Staff (Admin, Moderator, PT, DT) with Request Approval

Additional Members Group C: Invited Members under special circumstance (not limited)



- If a RAB member is considered ineligible for AVEN elections (by means of a warning, ban, etc) while they are on the Research Approval Board then they must be removed.


Explanation of Group A: Moderators and Declass Team Members may request to be part of the AVEN Research Approval Board while they are holding a staff position. This can be done by messaging any of the Project Team Members (Preferably Dedicated Research Contact) and they cannot be rejected. Once the Staff Member leaves their position, they can reapply for access under Additional Members Group B. This request can also be done preemptively if the staff member wishes to remain during resignation.


Rules for Group A: In the event a Group A RAB member is removed from the group due to inactivity, they would be unable to apply for access again until July 1st of that same year (6 Months).


Explanation of Group B: Previous AVEN Staff Members (Admin, Moderators, PT, DT) can request to be part of the AVEN Research Approval Board through messaging a Project Team Member (Preferably Dedicated Research Contact). The Project Team will then discuss and vote if the requesting applicant could join based upon their interactions and history while holding a staff position. Applicants in this category can be rejected. Approval for this group requires 4 out of 5 Project Team Members voting in favor.


Rules for Group B:

-The applicant must have held the staff position within the previous two years of resignation.

-Additionally they must have held a staff position after March 16th, 2016.


Explanation of Group C: Invited members from this group are due to exceptional circumstances as decided by the Project Team. The decision must be unanimous by the Project Team. There is no restriction as to whom can be invited through this method. The invited party must agree to participate in the board to confirm their access. Potential Invitation Candidates can be submitted by any of the Project Team members, along with a description of the candidate. The discussion regarding the invitation will be discussed at the following PT Meeting.


The list of members of the Research Approval Board is made available to all AVEN members. It is regularly updated by the Dedicated Research Contact or another member of the Project Team.


Research Approval Subforum

Subforum Name: AVEN Research Approval Board and Research Requests

Subforum Location: Under Site, preferably below Admods Only.

Subforum Description: This forum serves as the location for discussion pertaining to Research, Research Requests and Approval on AVEN. The Core Research Approval Board Members are the Project Team and Administrators. To request access to this forum, please contact the Dedicated Research Contact of the Project Team.


Annual Participation Review: Will be conducted during December every year by the Dedicated Research Contact on any non-core RAB members (Group A,B,C) that have been members for 10 discussions at minimum. To maintain their position on the RAB board the member must have engaged in at least half of the years total research request discussions. Any RAB member that has below this amount will be considered inactive and removed from the position.


Responsibilities of Research Approval Board members

All members of the RAB must check the RAB subforum for new request at least daily and participate in discussions and votes wherever possible. If they are temporarily not able to do so, they need to inform the other members through a dedicated leave of absence thread.


At least once per month a RAB meeting is held (via Skype or otherwise) with the purpose of closing any requests still open at the time of the meeting, except when there are external reasons (i.e. due to the researcher) for the delay.


Responsibilities of the Dedicated Research Contact (DRC)

The Dedicated Research Contact is a member of a Project Team assigned by the PT for handling research requests. The DRC is responsible for the functioning of the Research Approval Board. Research requests are normally handled by the DRC, but may also be handled by another member of the Project Team if mutually agreed. All requests are posted by the DRC on the research subforum. Once a request is approved, the DRC also asks the researcher if they would like the request to be reposted on the AVEN social media. If so, the DRC contacts the Social Media Director about this. At least once a month the DRC reports to the AVEN members in the PT monthly bulletin.


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