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Research Methods All notes.docx

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University of Ottawa
Philippe Ross

Reasearch Methods Theory and Methodology Week 3 January 21 st Research methods: strategies of inquiry and data collection Qualitative: are used for exploring and understanding the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem Quantitative: are used for testing objective theories by examining the relationship between variable. These variables in turn can be measured(..) so that numbered data can be analyzed using statistical procedures. Basic reasons you choose research method 1) the kinds of issues you’re investigating and what you hope to be able to say about them 2) Your philosophical worldview 1)Kinds of questions -research methods should be -the logical extension of the problem you’re investigating -appropriate to the problem you want to address -Ex: cell phone use- EU vs N. America -Consitency from what? To how? 2) Worldview -Definition: basic set of beliefs that guide action/the researcher’s decisions; -more or less explicit philosophical assumptions that underpin the use of specific methods Worldview involves beliefs about -nature of reality ( ontology) - How reality can be known ( epistemology) EX: Chomsky and newsworthiness - Reality: media production is determined by specific motives/intentions - IS reality to be found in institutions / media contents/ownership OR in everyday actions of individuals Why it’s important -Use of particular methods generates expectations as to what is legitimate research and what isn’t - Quantitative vs Qualitative researchers=often isolate groups with little understanding between them, despite similar topics 2 key worldviews -Positivist/postpositivist -Social constructivist/interpretivist Quantitative methods 1) kinds of questions ex: survey on new media purchases 25 % of students purchased smartphone Ex: federal elections 35% of voters favour Conservatives Questions on the behavior or attitudes or opinions of large groups and how they occur in trends or patterns 2) Worldview -positivist worldview: holds that the purpose of research is to yield absolute, indisputable, universal truths about the world. ( e.g. gravity) -There is an objective reality out there in the world , which we can reveal. -What about the social world? Feelings, power, intentions, interests, identity, public opinion, etc Postpositivst: in matters of human behavior and actions absolute, indisputable, universal truths cannot be found. But there is nonetheless a “reality out there” that can be measured. -our knowledge of the social world can never be perfect, but we can measure it in order to understand it Objectivity: there are (natural or social) phenomena that exist “out there” in the world, independently of our perception Reductionism: these phenomena can and must be reduced through measurement, in order to increase our understanding of the world detachment: researchers have a privileged position that allows them to be detached from the reality they’re observing in order to better understand it Qualitative methods Kinds of Questions -picture of crowd using narrow lens ( zoon) -More in depth understanding of their experience -Bring to light various meanings within -In cmn, qualitative research is all about studying ‘human symbolic action in the various contexts of its performance.’ Week 4 January 27th The research process Basic Reasons 1) the kinds of issues you’re investigating and what you hope to be able to say about them; 2) your philosophical worldview Qualitative methods -voting conservative, using facebook, being a university student -mean different things to different ppl -In CMN, qualitative research is all about studying ‘human symbolic action in the various contexts of it performance.’ 5 contexts of communication -Intrapersonal -Interpersonal -Small group ( studied of more structured activities, 1 to 1 isn’t possible) -Organizational -Mass media ex: What factors constrain the ability of journalists to inform the public Ergan Gothman ( Important theorist) -small group Worldview -Social constructivist/interprevist: realities are socially-constructed by and between human beings in their expressive and interpretive practices -No such thing as a singular objective ‘reality out there’ that we can reveal -Rather; multiple realities that lie in the eye of the beholder. -Individuals develop subjective varied and multiple meanings of their experiences - Therefore, the purpose of research is to uncover complexity of interpretations rather than narrowing meanings into a few categories or ideas Relativism Family of views whose common theme is that some central aspect of experience, thought, evaluation, or even reality is somehow relative to something else -validity=relative to specific groups -ex: what meanings are shared by specific groups and how do they impact on their understanding of the world? In media and Communications -what is the role of media and or communication in the creation and sharing of meaning? -What importance do young adults give Facebook within their overall communication practices -What is the range of reasons voters have for voting conservative? * What and how questions Comparing Worldviews Positivist/postpositivist – Social constructivist/interpretivist Objectivity- Subjectivity ( no objevtive but rather subjective meaning) Reductionism- Complexity ( research can and must bring multiple realities) Detachment- proximity ( prolonged , sustained egagment wth participants) Topic -subject matter -central idea to learn about ( creswall 2009) -Research area: field within an academic discipline in which researches tackle similar issues, draw on similar theories and concepts, and/or use similar methods 3 sources of ideas -scientific reasons -personal experience/opportunities -public problems Scientific reasons -Starting point of research: express desire to advance knowledge in particular area -more common in natural sciences , ex: finding cure for cancer -Rare in social sciences and humanities Personal Experience and opportunities -event in personal or professional life which raises questions -nobel prize Advantage: interest, insights, motivation Disadvantage: impartially, bias Public Problems -Public problems: issues discussed in public sphere which have implications for the well-being of society or humanity -In media and coms: threaten to alter the way we get our information and our entertainment January 30 th Midterm -mix of multiple choice -short answer -Lectures -Textbook -Additional readings on virtual campus ( general understanding) Researching Contents and Messages Week 5 February 4th Outline -new media and tech -technological determinism -popular discourse on technology -Documentary: Us now Determinism -Definition : An overstated belief in the inherent value, power and autonomy of technology determinism: belief that technology is direct result of human intentions/action -determinism is not a theory, it is usually implicit in discourse - Popular discourse on teachnology: information and views conveyed by the media on changes happeneing now -many people have to be persuaded to buy into an idea for it to be made into an artifact ( in production phase) -Then users-often the general public-must bepersuaded smehow to embrace it -If new media technology is both cause and consequence of societ and culture.. how do we research this? -You have to start somewhere -but it’s important not to lose sight of general context; and not to look for smple causual explanations Content Analysis Week 5 February 6 th Content analysis -A key method for the analysis of content and messages -“Emblamatic” of media and communication studies (devised by media scholars) -we’re all experts - we have experience in com and media -we have opinions on -how effective media are - how fair or biased they are -what they portray as key issues -level of violence/language/sexulatiy in media -Our opinions of media content based on -a specific medium ( tv,papers,internet) -a specific type of content ( news, advertisement) - a particular period of time (now-ish) Content Analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic and quatitative description of the manifest content of communication. ( berelson 1957) Manifest content: contents that are ostensible, readily available to out perception (vs semiotic analysis) CA seeks to quantify content to say something about general meaning or implications of a particular kind of message. Semiotic analysis -looks for latent singular occurrences within contents Content analysis Looks for manifest repeated occurences within ( a large body of) contents to say something about their meaning Why analyze contents? Mediation -First, the media institution is engaged in the production, reproduction and distribution of knowledge in the widest sense of sets of symbols which have meaningful reference to experience in the social world -Second, mass media have a mediating role between objective social reality and personal experience (McQuail 1987) -Mediation: connects individual experience with broader, collective reality -Through symbolic content, media…. -enable us to make sense of individual experience by locating it in broader content -shape our experience John Thompsan : table (1995) Distiguishes between 4 forms of power Economic- Material and financial- corporations Political- Authority- state parliament Coercive- Physical and armed force- military police Symbolic- Means of info & communication – Cultural institutions (church, education, media) Symbolic Power - The capacity to intervene in the course of events, to influence the actions of others and indeed to create events, by means of the production and transmission of symbolic forms ( Thompson) -Media provide the materials with which our reality is constructed -capacity to construct one owns reality and the reality of others ( Mondieu) Historical background of CA -CA emerged along with field of Media and Com itself (1930’s-1940’s) -CA has been used for examining how news, drama, advertising and entertainement, output reflect social and cultural issues, values and phenomena -CA is suited to the analysis of large bodies of contents CA as thermometer -Allows us to monitor cultural temperature of society: topics and issues deemed important at the time -Given us reading of kinds of messages that circulate in public sphere - H. Lasswell 1930’s continuing sur vey of world attention -G.Gerbner (1969) Cultural indicator program which led to Theory of Cultivation -CA can do for culture what economic statistics do for the Economy: provide broad long-term indicators on state of our culture and of debate in Public sphere -What if we did CQ of major TV networks? Or Youtube? What would this tell us about our culture CA used with other methods -CA allows us to analyze contents -To draw link upstream to production, or downstream to reception, we need other methods; -Triangulation: use of more than one method to approach a topic, in order to produce more reliable data How to use CA Purpose: to identify and count the occurrence of specific characteristics of media contents and through this, to be able to say something about the message as a whole and their wider social significance. 1.defintion of the research problem 2.Selection of media and sample 3.Definition of analytical categories 4. Construction of coding schedule 5. Piloting the coding, schedule and checking reliability 6. Data-preparation and analysis (Hansen AL 1998) 1.Definition of problem -aim to express relationsjop between empirical objects and concepts in form of a problem -not necessarily something that’s wrong but a gap in knowledge Literature review -to give you a sense of existing research relevant to your topic -To help you define a problem to investigate -To stop you “reinventing the wheel’ ex: Web 2.0 and privacy -tendancy to display person info is the web makes us vulnerable or self centered of care free Simplified problems The ways in which people display personal info on the web Research questions What kinds of personal info are individuals revealing on the web and though what medium Hypothesis Educated guess/ hunch forshawdows results of research 2. Media and Sample -What body of media are we interested in? ex> web.2.0 & Facebook -We need a sample of contents ex. Whole facebook profile? Status updates? -How many? The more the better 3. Defining analytical categories -Critical step! Deciding what we look for in the content in order to shed light on problems/questions -Types of categories Identifier (name or person, gender, age, time/date) Substantive/thematic ( must flow from research question) ( family, work, financial, leisure) -Analytical Categories are turned into a coding schedule or frame February 11 th 4. Coding schedule (or frame) -Is the actual tool applied to the corpus -Is the yardstick of objectivity -doesn’t mean everyone would come up with same analytical categories and codes -But: that the same coding schedule can be used by anyone and yield broadly the same results (so objectivity=replicability) Coding FB status updates -Format( how is the update phrased) 1.factual statement 2. Question 3.Comment 4.Announcement 5.Single word/adjective Thematic content ( what is it about?) 1.Relationships 2.Occupation 3.Leisure 4.Political views 5.Financial infor 6.Consumption 7.More than one theme 8.Other Specificity (how detailed is it? 1. Explicit 2. Vague 3. Not specific Mood or tone 1.Ecstatic 2.Very good 3.Good 4.Neutral 5.Bad 6.Very bad 3 essentials features about code Explicit: spell out the expressions or words you’re looking for under a specific code Mutually exclusive: any one text should not fit in more than one code-unless you use that as a code Relevant: to the research problem/ questions 5. Piloting schedule -Before yoyu lickdown your analytical categories and codes , you need to test them to see if they’re relevant and complete, if they’re explicit enough and if they’re m
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