Researching what research is – if this isn’t paradoxical then I’m not sure what is. But, here goes nothing …
The first blog of a subject is always the hardest, so admittedly I found myself opening a new safari tab on my phone with the brain-dead intention of Googling the word research. But, after looking at the amount of tabs I already had opened with various questions directed at Mr. Google and his endless pool of knowledge, it became obvious that I research a lot more than I had ever consciously realized. I had consulted Google on cheap flights, bushwalks in my area, the phases of the moon, and costumes to wear to an upcoming circus-themed 21st – all in the past few days. Whilst, these questions might’ve been burning and imperative to me for a couple of hours, they are in no way scholarly research, they are in fact everyday research: research that is unconscious and automatic. Scholarly research, however, is deliberate, it is ‘systematic and objective’, and it revolves around ‘correctness and truthfulness’ (Berger 2014). Scholarly research should be completely detached from our personal opinions, biases and experiences (McCutcheon 2015). No matter if the research falls into the category of everyday or scholarly, either way, when we pose these questions we search for answers that have been provided already, answers that we can add value to or answers that may not exist currently; we aim to establish facts and reach conclusions. Further than this, the research we undertake can fall under two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is about ‘asking people for their opinions in a structured way so that you can produce hard facts and statistics to guide you’ (Willis 2015). Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of ‘underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations’ (Wyse 2011). Both forms of research can be incorporated into finding a conclusion to an idea, however each have their own downfalls. Berger (2014) claims that quantitative research is accused of being too narrow; where as qualitative researchers are accused of reading into things that aren’t there.
Media research is all of what’s been discussed above, but applied to aspects of the media, including mass media, social media, print media, radio, cinema etc. Research into these areas can help us to identify links between media, culture, society and individuals. Strasburger points out that there is currently not enough media research and that the ‘effects of the media on children and adolescents’ are more or less unknown (2013). This means that there is a space where media research could possibly help fill in the blanks to hopefully minimise the risks that the media presents to vulnerable targets. That is where my interest in media research lies; the effect that media has on its consumers, in particular social media. I am particularly interested in our online social presences and the way that we each shape our online image to make people view us in a certain way. I want to look at the concept of ‘Facebook envy’, where people put the best aspects of their life online and leave out the average things so that when people look at their online profile they form an envious admiration of that person. In broad terms, I am interested in media research in regards to the question ‘does Facebook make people happy?’
Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32
McCutcheon, M 2015, ‘Lecture 2: what is media research?’, BCM210, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, 11 March
Strasburger, V.C. 2013, “Spinal Column: Why Isn’t There More Media Research?”, Clinical Pediatrics, vol. 52, no. 7, pp. 587-588