Update: Alicia Walker released a statement saying she decided to "voluntarily" cancel the study, citing "public reaction."
It was all in the name of science.
But at first, the request sure did sound odd.
Alicia Walker, an assistant professor of sociology at the Missouri State University, was asking people to send in pictures of their penises for a scientific study, according to The Springfield News-Leader. The research was supposed to look at the relationship between the size of a man's privates and his mental health, sexual activity and self-image, among other things.
She has since canceled the study, citing "public reaction."
But these weren't your usual penis pictures, Walker told The Springfield News-Leader.
"These are not sexy pictures," she said. "These are clinical pictures."
According to the study's research portal, Walker was seeking the nude images from men over the age of 22. She wanted men to measure the girth and length of their penis when it is both erect and flaccid — and send in images "of your penis with the measuring device."
She offered specific instructions for interested participants so they could accurately record the width and length of their privates.
(In case you're wondering, the average length of an erect penis is just under 5.2 inches, according to a 2015 study from King's College London. Other studies have found similar results.)
Walker told The College Fix that she hoped to record data from at least 3,600 subjects — but that the people she already studied had offered interesting findings.
“The men I’ve talked to thus far are in a great deal of distress because of how we view penis size at present," she wrote in an email to the outlet. "And how they feel is absolutely impacting their condom use, their willingness to even attempt to approach potential sexual partners, and even going to the doctor for a physical exam.
“Their physical health is actually impacted by how they feel about their penis. This isn’t a frivolous study.”
In the quest to receive the penis pictures, a research assistant for Walker advertised the study on the "Small Dick Problems" subreddit.
One user on the subreddit asked why the study would require images in the first place.
"This is because we ask for specific measurements of length and girth," the assistant answered, "and to ensure data validity and uniform measurement we must ensure all participants are correctly using the bone press method."
The bone press method involves measuring your penis from the bone at the base of your pelvis to the tip.
There is also an interview portion of the study that doesn't involve sending in any pictures, the assistant wrote on the subreddit.
Walker added that all types of people with a penis — including intersex, genderqueer and transgender people — were welcome to participate, according to The College Fix. "There are many individuals who could contribute to the study," she wrote, "that were not [Assigned Male At Birth] or that [do] not identify as being male.”
In a statement to The Springfield News-Leader, Missouri State wrote "academic freedom is a core component of a liberal arts university" — and Walker's study was allowed to proceed. It does not receive funding from the government or the university.
Walker lamented that some people are making a mockery of her study, even though she says the issue has serious consequences for men.
"A lot of men carry secret anxiety," she told The Springfield News-Leader, "because of their penis size."
"It's serious," she added. "Some of them actually attempted suicide."
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Walker left comments on Reddit, when it was in fact a research assistant. It also incorrectly quoted Walker's reason for canceling the study. This story has been updated to reflect those changes.