Study on needlecraft and copyright -- please participate!

Hi everyone!

I’m a doctoral student (and avid crafter, craft-buyer, and beginning knitter) assisting with a fairly large, multi-site study on copyright and intellectual property issues. The portion that I’m involved with is evaluating crafters’ (we’re focusing on textile and needlework crafts) perceptions of and experiences with copyright issues. If you knit, crochet, sew, embroider, quilt, or do other forms of needlwork, please contribute!

Below, I’ve attached the link to the survey, which also includes a letter of information and a consent form. No pressure – but we’d love to hear what you have to say on the matter! We’re curious about copyright issues with patterns and so forth, as well as personal experiences with copyright or IP issues.


I’m always wary of such questionnaires. I’m especially wary of this one because, although there is a name provided for the possible Ph.D. student, the very language of presentation–the first page, upon which the potential interviewee’s impressions of the survey are based–is so poorly written as to beggar belief.

There are very elementary, basic errors: subject/verb disagreement (singular/plural), misuse of punctuation, sentences which change focus in the middle and never do really “finish up.” Many more errors as well, but these are the most egregious and therefore the most off-putting. It’s hard to believe that someone going for a Ph.D. would 1) write such poor English or, if English is not his/her native language, would 2) not have another person proof-read/edit it before publishing it to “needlwork” groups.

Of course, this could be some new, sophisticated means of collecting email addresses from gullible people in the crafting community that I haven’t heard of yet.

The whole thing just seems weird to me.



Thanks for sharing your concerns. The name provided in the questionnaire is that of the professor in charge of this study. I’m a doctoral student working as an RA for data collection. I’m also not an English doctoral student, so I apologize for any type-os. I assure you that this isn’t some sort of scam. Dr. Robertson is a professor of visual arts and researches textiles and handiwork relating to textiles. I research crafting as a means of information sharing behaviour (my discipline is Library and Info. Science). I didn’t write the letter of information; my job is to recruit participants by posting this survey and collecting the responses. I apologize if you felt that any of this is misleading. If you are interested in the study, but are hesistant, contacting Dr. Robertson for additonal information is recommended. We actually underwent a fairly thorough and rigorous ethics review protocol for this mode of data collection, as is standard in research that utilizes human subjects. Again, I’m sorry if I raised any red flags, but the study is legitimate.

Sadly, I’m with DCM. This just smells fishy. I normally would be willing to participate in something like this, but it just seems off. (Especially since I have several siblings with advanced degrees.)

No problem. I’ve been posting in other craft forums and have had a tremendous response rate. Thanks for taking the time to review and consider though. I understand the skepticism in this day and age, since there are so many malicious intentions out there.

I’ll repeat once more that this study is legititimate, and a few minutes of research would have clarified that. In any case, thanks again.


As long as it’s not gathering personal information (it isn’t) then I don’t see a problem with helping out a fellow knitter. If this was a professional survey or something then I would be concerned with the language, but since it’s not I think it’s not a big deal.

I think that if we wanted to contact Dr. Robertson, it would be helpjul to have the first name and professor’s university affiliation. Would you provide that for anyone who wants to check the background?

Sorry – DCM was referring specifically to the letter of information, which is the first page you see when you click on the survey link. All the information about the study is in that letter.

But for those who are skeptical of even clicking the link, the study is being conducted by Dr. Kirsty Robertson of the Visual Arts department at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. It’s a SSHRC funded study (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and again, underwent a strict ethics review for data collection. We have permission from Western’s ethics review board to conduct surveys both online and in-person. This portion of the study involves my posting the survey link to different craft forums (Etsy, Craftster, Ravelry, etc.) Our goal is to see what different members of different craft communities, with an emphasis on needlework and textile crafts, have to say about their views and experiences with copyright and intellectual property issues. It’s a heated issue within different crafting communities, specifically in the context of patterns, sharing finished goods, supplies (mostly with regard to trademarked fabrics for sewing) and so forth.

I mentioned that we have already collected enough data based on our interaction with other forums, but since members here might have different experiences and beliefs than members at Ravelry, if you do think you want to contribute then it would be appreciated. But if in any way this makes you uncomfortable, we completely understand. It’s a no-pressure survey. And I’m sorry, once again, for making anyone uncomfortable. Thanks to those who considered or completed the survey!

I took the survey. It doesn’t request any personal information, nor are there any pop ups requesting anything that would indicate any malware is being installed to your computer. I have faith that this is legitimate and even were it not, there is not detriment to you by taking the survey.

I did it as well. :slight_smile:

I work in higher ed research and it looks to me like they’re following all the general requirements for social science research ethics. I think the questions could have been written better - all open ended questions lead to some really nasty data analysis ahead - but there are no red flags as far as I can see.