We have all conducted research, often on a daily basis. For example, if you like eggs as much as I do, you may want to know the best way to boil one; or you may want to know how many chickens you would need to produce a month’s supply of eggs; or if you’re not into eggs, it may be something else equally as important. We use this type of research to help us improve and enhance our lifestyles and make us better equipped for survival. Another form of research, which you could describe as important, is the type that is objective, scientific and logical. Using systems of information gathering, data is collected, carefully reviewed and studied with an objective to better understand and speculate on something in a particular field of interest. As Arthur Berger (2014) points out when he quotes Nietzsche in his paper What Is Media Research this does not necessarily imply cold hard facts.:
No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations. We cannot establish any fact “in itself”: perhaps it is folly to want to do such a thing.
As some of you may know Nietzsche was pretty clever dude and he coined the term perspectivism and posited that there was “no limit to the ways the world can be interpreted.” Berger further notes:
Nietzsche may have overestimated the importance of interpretation, but […] after social scientists have collected their data, they have to interpret it, and sometimes there is more than one way to interpret this data.
We now find ourselves facing more complex issues than dealing with chickens and eggs. Apparently ‘things’ we require answers to, can be interpreted in a number of ways and the process of discovery may lead us to under cook our eggs and misinterpret the data. I am assuming, if you are reading this article, you are interested in the ins and outs of mass communication and may, at some point, require trustworthy methods i.e. both scientific and logical, to gain an understanding of its social relevance in our quickly changing digital world. Yup, I knew it! This leads us back to the afore-mentioned field of research, more specifically media research, and learning how to do it correctly and accurately. At this point I know everyone is incredibly excited, so what next?
What would I like to research, find out about, explore, gather and educe? I’m interested in the mega media corporations and how they market mass media content, and or celebrities, to the new proactive and digital savvy audiences. These audiences brandish Twitter ruthlessly, firing off tweets with gusto causing these once powerful moguls to pay very close attention to unfiltered consumer opinions. In my blog Twerking Cyrus Is Trending On Twitter I quote TV critic, Maggie Furlong (2012) who wrote:
While metrics on the most popular shows on Twitter aren’t measured with an exact science just yet, it’s only a matter of time. The fact that every network now has a social media division says that TV executives realize the power of fan reactions, live conversations and making shows tweet-worthy.
At this point in time, the task of conducting a media research project around this topic seems gargantuan. However, if the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty and toil, I am sure by the end, it will be paved by the attainment of knowledge and finished with a very stable surface of facts.
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
Kruger, M 2013, ‘Twerking Cyrus is trending on Twitter’, Welcome to the machine: Mechanisms of media and communication, web log post, 9 September, viewed 16 April 2015, https://mishellima.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/twerking-cyrus-is-trending-on-twitter/
2 thoughts on “Research Is What Research Does”
That was a really well written post. I loved how you mentioned that research is all up to interpretation. The metaphors which were used fit the post well and you incorporated not only your opinion but your own personality. One point of constructive criticism would be that I did get lost at one point because your writing began to get a little vague. What are the ‘things’ that you are talking about for example, I was a little lost. Other than that you incorporated the quotes and resources very well and an overall very interesting post.
Fantastic blog post Michelle! I think the way you employed egg handling as a metaphor was extremely clever and made wrapping my head around such a huge topic quite easy to digest, so to speak. I too am interested in the idea of misinterpretation and Nietzsche’s ‘perspectivism’. I think it’s a relevant framework that should be applied to many aspects of media research. I also believe that it is supported by media corporation’s response to social media engagement. Like you mentioned, they too are recognising the importance of interpretation, however trivial the subject. I’m more so interested in how social media conversation effects the discourse of political agendas and subsequently, media corporations. Or unbeknownst to us, does the media effect our interpretation of political affairs. What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Also, at first glance I thought the eggs were oranges. Thanks for the great read!