Smart Bitches: The Ethnographic Study

A graduate student at Rutgers University contacted Candy and I about using our site as a subject for her ethnographic study of our Bitchery style of communication. How cool is that? See below for the details.

My name is Miriam Greenfeld and I am a doctoral student at Rutgers University. I am currentlystudying patterns of participation at the Smart Bitches site for a course on ethnography of communication. There will likely be other papers written based on the same data. Right now my focus is on the discussions based on either the contests leading to titles or cover snark.

I am looking for people who visit the Smart Bitches site who are willing to be interviewed about their participation. This allows me to better understand the patterns of communication on the site and also to verify that I am interpreting what I see correctly. It does not matter if you are a romance reader, writer, editor, hang out here because you think it’s fun, etc. If you read and/or comment on the site, then I am interested in what you have to say. The interview would take place via IM and should take approximately an hour. If you are interested, please email me at mirigree (at) for further information.


In my email conversation with Miriam, my end of which often contains a subtext of, ‘You want to study the Bitchery?! NO WAY!’ she explained that she wants to interview folks “in order to get a better sense of how people view themselves as part of the Bitchery and how they express that through their participation. It’s one thing to look at the posts and discussion, but it helps to know how the people actually writing the posts view things…. My primary purpose is to look at how people in an online romance community contribute through the way they write posts and interact with each other. In other words, what makes the Smart Bitches site its own, unique place and how posters relate to it.”

I’m so enthused about the idea, to be honest, because one of the things I love most about this site is that we can disagree vehemently with one another but we never truly denigrate into name calling catfights, and usually can arrive at a point to agree to disagree. Surely there are major points of contention, but the people who read and post here are part of an ongoing discussion that I love to read every day – even if I wasn’t co-running the site I’d be here daily. So to have a graduate student want to study what makes our community so unique (and it is) makes me giddy like you have no idea.

I’ll be chatting with Miriam sometime next week (I hope), and if you’re interested in participating in her study, feel free to contact her directly.




Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Wow.  You guys not only rock on cover snark, but now you’ve got academic cred as well!

  2. 2
    dl says:

    Ditto…I also enjoy the variety of posters at SB without nastiness & name calling.  In addition to the insightfullness, funny-ness, and extreme intelligence of so many SB’s…it’s always entertaining, educational, AND great book reviews & recommendations too!!

    On one extended comment section recently, counted how many published authors had posted…very impressive.  That’s just the one’s I recognized.

  3. 3
    Marianne McA says:

    Pretending I didn’t just have to go away and look up ‘ethnographic’*…

    Just to clarify, does she want to interview anyone who comes to the site, or just people who have participated in the cover snark or title competition?

    * Ethnographic – to do with ethnography**. (Why do dictionaries do that? If I knew what ethnography was, even I, stupider than the average Smart Bitch, could work out what ethnographic might be.)

    ** Ethnography – I knew when I started writing this post, but clearly stored the knowledge in the short term memory part of my brain, the bit that wanders off after ten seconds and starts to think about something else.

    I spend a lot of my life staring blankly into the fridge, no idea why I opened it.

  4. 4
    Ann says:

    “Contacted Candy and I”? We’re not gonna be graded, are we?

  5. 5

    I just hope there’s no math on this test.

  6. 6
    Amy E says:

    Man, I was all about to post until I saw there was math.  Math bad.

  7. 7

    Math bad. Cookies good. Smart Bitches better.

    Now I’m wondering if all the statistical outliers we have lying around here are going to cock up an academic study. Heh.

  8. 8
    Amy E says:

    Lilith, your comment struck me as especially hilarious because in conversations with my critique and brainstorming partners, the child-resistant code-word for orgasms is “cookies.” 

    So I must agree with you whole-heartedly.  Cookies good.  Cookies very, very good.

  9. 9
    Qadesh says:

    Wow, now that is darn impressive.  Granted this is a pretty damn impressive place, but heck if academia is acknowledging you then you know you’ve reached a certain level of fame. 

    And yes, cookies are very, very good.

  10. 10
    euri says:

    Exceedingly cool. I just love it when academics start discussing Romance in a positive light… will you make her promise to share the results with us?

  11. 11

    OK, now I’m feeling guilty.  Whenever I do my “horror of math” thing my son the math teacher gives me a look and says “It’s liberal arts majors like you that make it harder for me to teach why math is important in the real world!”

    So I’m sure there’s some good reason why there’s math in this study.

    But if I have to do trig, I’m outta here.

  12. 12
    Sam says:

    This is awesome, right up my alley as I am an anthropology student at the University of Florida.

  13. 13

    Go Gators!

    Sorry.  It’s a knee-jerk response.

    Alumna, UF ‘78

  14. 14
    The Dean says:

    From The Dean’s Desk:
    The Dean is of course loath to stand in the way of legitimate scholarship, but must raise the issue of interest to Academics everywhere.  How does this doctoral student propose protection of human subjects?  This is a requirement of all legitimate universities (and the last time The Dean was at Rutgers it still qualified).  Does the student propose to take this idea to Institutional Review Board?  Also The Dean is compelled to point out that ethnography comes from the philosophic approach of qualitative Interpretive Social Science and requires disclosure of and acknoledgement of the researcher’s participation (see Creswell 2003 Five Approaches). More disclosure is needed before you allow the respondents to be analyzed. 
    The Dean

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