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Communication Research Project http://


Communication Research Project http:// Lecture 1: What is Research? Feb, 2015 Ray Archee – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Communication Research Project http://

Communication Research Projecthttp//http//schoo
  • Lecture 1 What is Research?
  • Feb, 2016
  • Ray Archee (Myra Gurney)

This unit is about consuming research
  • We are concerned with doing research
  • We are concerned with planning, designing, and
    critiquing others research
  • We are interested in examining methods for doing
  • We are interested in debunking myths
    surrounding all kinds of research

Some definitions
  • Research is a scientific undertaking which, by
    means of logical and systematized techniques aims
  • discover new facts, or verify and test old facts
  • analyse their sequence, interrelationships and
    causal explanations (found on Web)
  • Research is defined as the creation of new
    knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in
    a new and creative way so as to generate new
    concepts, methodologies and understandings. This
    could include synthesis and analysis of previous
    research to the extent that it leads to new and
    creative outcomes (Dept Industry, Innovation,
    Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary
    Education, UWS website)

Definitions cont. (from UWS)
  • This definition of research is consistent with a
    broad notion of research and experimental
    development (RD) as comprising of creative work
    undertaken on a systematic basis in order to
    increase the stock of knowledge, including
    knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and
    the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new
  • This definition of research encompasses pure and
    strategic basic research, applied research and
    experimental development. Applied research is
    original investigation undertaken to acquire new
    knowledge but directed towards a specific,
    practical aim or objective (including a
    client-driven purpose).
  • What is missing here?
  • Is writing a book, research? What about a
    newspaper article?
  • Is devising a PR campaign? Or an advertisement?
    Or a video?
  • Is playing a musical instrument, research?

Is ordinary experience, research?
  • E.g. What is the difference between going to a
    party and having a good time, and a researcher
    who studies Australian parties?

Well, it depends
  • Yes, if you are an academic and you publish an
    article in an academic journal about Australian
  • Yes, if you are a journalist writing about Aussie
    barbecues http//
  • Yes, if you work for the government and are a
    part of the Federal Drugs Campaign
  • No, if you simply attend parties, barbecues and
    take drugs. (Unless you are a participant
    observer wanting to write a paper.)

The definition would say
  • You really need to have a specified aim or
    question in mind in order to do research
  • You need to have a particular method/s for doing
    your research
  • You probably need to write something down, or at
    least record your research in some way (words,
    photos, video)
  • You need an audience that you are attempting to
    communicate with
  • You need to have some understanding of other
    research in the same area, or else you risk
    repeating mistakes, or coming up with the same
  • You need to be aware of the ethical risks
    involved with human beings
  • You probably should be researching something
    worthwhile researching

We all do research in our daily lives
  • However some of us are better than others
  • Crossing a busy street is the epitome of doing
    action research. If you do not do good research
    here, you get hit by a bus! Crossing a busy road
  • Observations are compiled, speed calculations
    are made, vehicle predictions, driver
    attitudes are assessed, self-experience relied
  • http//
    and https//
  • Ebay research how do you lose an ebay auction?
    How do you win?
  • YouTube research working out how to fix
  • Google
  • We are all researchers because we all perform
    everyday research!

Research as Socratic Method
  • The earliest example of a method for gaining
    knowledge is that attributed to Socrates and is
    called the Socratic Method
  • The Socratic Method consists of an interlocutor
    (or antagonist) who poses a thesis or question,
    which is then answered by Socrates with a series
    of other questions, which eventually throw light
    on the original thesis as being flawed, and thus
    refuted, yielding a higher order thesis.
  • The Method was used to discuss concepts which had
    no concrete certainties, such as wisdom, piety,
    temperance and justice.
  • Strangely, Socratic Method is widely used in law
    schools, in USA and AU, and still used in
    psychotherapy, training, mentoring, and
  • Some people see the Platonic Dialogues as the
    beginnings of the scientific method. That is, we
    start from a position of half knowing, we posit a
    null hypothesis, and by disproving it, end up
    with the correct answer.

For example
  • Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle accidents
    resulting in hospital attendance a
    case-crossover studyhttp//
  • The null hypothesis here was that mobile phones
    do not cause accidents

Mobile phone study
  • Objectives To explore the effect of drivers' use
    of mobile (cell) phones on road safety.
  • Design A case-crossover study. Setting Perth,
    Western Australia.
  • Participants 456 drivers aged 17 years who
    owned or used mobile phones and had been involved
    in road crashes necessitating hospital attendance
    between April 2002 and July 2004.
  • Main outcome measure Driver's use of mobile phone
    at estimated time of crash and on trips at the
    same time of day in the week before the crash.
    Interviews with drivers in hospital and phone
    company's records of phone use.
  • Results Driver's use of a mobile phone up to 10
    minutes before a crash was associated with a
    fourfold increased likelihood of crashing (odds
    ratio 4.1, 95 confidence interval 2.2 to 7.7, P
    lt 0.001). Risk was raised irrespective of whether
    or not a hands-free device was used (hands-free
    3.8, 1.8 to 8.0, P lt 0.001 hand held 4.9, 1.6
    to 15.5, P 0.003). Increased risk was similar
    in men and women and in drivers aged 30 and lt
    30 years. A third (n 21) of calls before
    crashes and on trips during the previous week
    were reportedly on hand held phones.
  • Conclusions When drivers use a mobile phone there
    is an increased likelihood of a crash resulting
    in injury. Using a hands-free phone is not any

Another kind of mobile phone study
  • Images of Men and Women in Mobile Phone
    Advertisements A Content Analysis of
    Advertisements for Mobile Communication Systems
    in Selected Popular Magazines
  • The present study was designed to analyze gender
    stereotypes in print advertisements for mobile
    communication systems in German popular magazines
    intended for men, women, and general readership.
    Depictions of both women and men are addressed. A
    total of 288 depictions were examined using
    Goffmans (Gender advertisements, Harvard
    University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979)
    framework for content analysis. Other variables
    studied were the setting in which men and women
    are depicted and the different types of magazines
    in which the advertisements appeared. It is shown
    that certain means of emphasizing stereotypes
    (such as Feminine Touch) are still widely used,
    at least in mobile phone advertising, whereas
    others have decreased in frequency since
    Goffmans time (for example, Function Ranking).

Yet another approach (book)
  • Mobile Phone Cultures (Goggin, 2013)

Research as Imitation or Emulation
  • Research is (almost) never totally original
  • It usually uses other peoples work as a starting
  • Research cannot simply replicate another persons
    work, or can it?
  • There is a tradition of checking ground breaking
    research by simply doing the same research over
    and over again
  • You can copy other peoples methods, in fact it
    is recommended you do so.

  • The whole idea of exactly specifying your
    research Method, including your instruments,
    participants, and procedures is to ensure
  • If someone cannot reproduce your results using
    your exact Method, then something is wrong
  • This is why many research disasters have come

Problems with research findings
  • In medicine most research findings are more
    likely to be false, than true http//www.plosmedic
  • In science, the streetlight effect has led some
    to believe that 2/3 of all published research in
    medicine is falsehttp//
  • Some people believe that about half the research
    findings published in the best journals, will be
    falsified by other research, within 10 years
  • In 1995, Alan Sokal, a physicist, published an
    article in Social Text called Transgressing the
    Boundaries Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics
    of Quantum Gravity (link1) (link2). The paper was
    a hoax set out to test the editors of a
    prestigious post-modern journal and caused a
    furore at the time.
  • SCIgen is a computer program created by MIT
    students. In 2005, a SCIgen generated article was
    accepted for a World IT Congress. It was called
    Rooter A Methodology for the Typical Unification
    of Access Points and Redundancy.
  • The last two examples were not peer-reviewed by
    experts in their field.
  • Other research hoaxes are abundant and easily
    found online.

Healthy Skepticism
  • Some may think that I am saying that all research
    publications are rubbish
  • I am not saying this I am giving you my
    viewpoint of how to read other peoples research
    findings, or newspaper articles, blogs, any
    information you come across
  • Approach the research paper or online post with a
    healthy amount of skepticism.
  • Do not believe everything a researcher is saying.
  • Be critical of their methods, be aware that any
    sample can be biased, and any results can be
    changed to suit the author.
  • Communication research is not a science, in fact
    science is not really all that scientific.

Research as Creativity
  • There are many genres of research papers
    experiments, surveys, critical analyses,
    meta-analyses, and news.
  • The one genre that is rarely spoken about is the
    creative paper that talks about something new and
    innovative that no other academics had thought
  • It is similar to show and tell in a classroom.
  • Vitamin D research has been one such
  • New human species discovered in South
  • Lost Da Vinci painting discovered in a bank

Research reporting needs graphics
  • Writing about technology is a common occurrence
    in this day and age
  • All kinds of technology are reported in the
    media, journals, newspapers and online
  • It has always been necessary to use graphs,
    diagrams, photos, and more recently, videos to
    explain new technologies
  • This will become more and more important as
    cameras and video becomes easier to create
  • Video is no longer the province of specialists

But graphics are an issue if a researcher uses
unusual or exotic charts
This graph analyses words in the the jihadist
magazine, Inspire. Possessing this magazine is a
crime in the UK AU. The journal article
reads Issues 1 to 12 are connected by a line
in time order, while variation is shown in two
dimensions. Thus we can see that most of the
issues are quite similar to one another, but
Issues 3 and 7 vary substantially. Skillicorn
Reid, 2014.
This issue here is not the information, but the
unusual way of translating Plain English into
complex graphs and figures - done throughout the
article. Drawing a line graph not only
legitimizes the results, but also upgrades the
analysis to science.My query is what are the
axes labels, what is being measured?
Next weeks
  • For the next 4 or 5 weeks, we have online
    lectures/podcasts from the coordinators of your
  • These presentations will describe how research is
    essential to your chosen careers, and detail some
    of the research found in professional settings
  • The final lecture in Week 7 will be back here in
    this lecture theatre!
  • Check the website see you in class.