Media Research

Question (b):

This essay critically examines the range and variety of research methodologies used in different kind of research and performs how to utilize the particular technique of qualitative and quantitative in media research. I using three journals with different researchers and they employ different research method to study regarding to media topic. As first journal will goes to Skegg et al. research on the relationship on ‘reality' television, the second journal will be the Costello and Moore's research, which study on the use of Internet by TV fans and the role they play in the Internet, thirdly, the journal talks research on how people build and maintain relationship through cyberspace. Three of the journals perform different methods and way of conduct in their research, and I would like to draw out the strengths and weaknesses of the methods of their research journal.

In the first journal, Skegg et al. used different methods which enabled the display of dissimilar relationships to television. Skegg et al. argues that the different methods enabled to collect the different discursive resources and display of dissimilar relationships to television such as reflexive telling, immanent positioning and affective responses (Skegg et al., 2004:5). I found that using the different methodologies can be one of the strength in this journal because this able to display the different kinds of knowledge, and offered a transparent account of that process (Skeggs et al., 2008:21), which supported by Wood and Skegg quoted the earlier study that these methodological observations underpin our earlier theoretical critique of the ‘turn' to subjectivity in social theory (2004 cited in Skeggs et al., 2004:5). Clearly, variety methodologies used in a research able to provide in-depth responses from the participants which can enrich the content of data. Additionally, the strength is further elaborated in Skegg et al., claim that they are focus on class capitals such as economic, symbolic, social and cultural in the research, Morley suggests that ‘class is still very much with us' that remain significant'(2006:108, cited in Skeggs et al., 2004:6). This shows the different view from the research participants in different volumes such as different gender, class and race and compositions. However, there are some weaknesses of the research. In my opinion focus group might be one of the weaknesses, it is depends a lot of the facilitator Stagg et al. (2004:18), meaning that the facilitators need to motivate the participants provide more responses and direct them to the related topic to prevent bias, which this supported by Kidd & Parshall (2000:294), declared that “the discourse depends on moderator skill as well as the participants characteristic. Moreover, I disagree with the researchers' action which they place recording far from ‘nature', without participant's knowledge when conducting interview, however, Skegg et al. (2004:12) says, “this method gives a more ‘direct' or ‘true' picture of the viewing process”. Anyhow, I put this method as a weakness of this journal which supported by Boan & Javne, stated that “an interpretative approach to the situation is necessary” (2000:551), which this is to protect study participants from potential social harm to prevent ethical violation, where this is considered as a gateway to ethical issue.

In the second journal, Costello and Moore work on web-based survey to collect qualitative data about online fans' use of the internet for keeping up with a favorite television program and for interacting with other fans. In my point, the strength of the research method in this study could be the advantages of online survey as Evan and Mathur says, online survey enable ‘question diversity' (2005:199), which open-ended questions were used by Costello and Moore to allow respondents to offer spontaneous qualitative insights (2007:129). Furthermore, Evans and Mathur stated, “online surveys can be administered in a time-efficient manner, minimizing the period it takes to get a survey into the field and for data collection” (2005:198) as Costello and Moore mentioned that the total of 3,041 completed surveys were received during the twenty-six days of the survey administration (2007:129). Costello and Moore farther mention that the survey were e-mailed to each of the 806 fan site owners and posted to each of the sixty program newsgroups (2007:129) as Evans and Mathur argue that online surveys can use large samples (2005:200). On another hand, there are pros and cons of course in this research. Compare with the previous research, this journal used different approach as the authors are purely used one research method which could be a weakness of this journal as the author themselves suggests that the best method may be hermeneutic, using a variety of research tools and critical insights (Costello and Moore, 2007:128) which supported by Schroeder (1999:48), stated the variety method might able to “discern the contours of patterns in the audience data, broad categories of similarities and differences of perception and practice in people's everyday interaction with the media andtheir meanings”. I argue that from a methodological point of view, there are some of the problems of conducting research via the Internet including the fundamental issues such as the researchers cannot know if they are getting the complete truth from their sources (Costello and Moore, 2007:128), which this considered as a obvious dangers that relies on the audience through online where this possibility create inaccurate data interpretation in the final result. In my view, some respondents will have a tough time distinguishing between a legitimate survey and a spam message which this supported by Evans and Mathur (2005:201), as one of the respondents mentioned “I'm sorry to say that this survey was a wee bit disturbing” (Costello and Moore, 2007:132).

In the third journal, it outlines the issues of human relationships in cyberspace, how people form ties and connection through the cyberspace. In this research, Cater used online ethnography, online questionnaires and offline meeting as the research methods. In my opinion, the strength definite overweight the weakness in this research due to there are few methods were used to collect a wide variety of data. This research used few research methods which considered as a strength as the first journal stated, Sade-Back agrees with claims that the advantages of the use of several complementary of data-gathering methodologies was the ability to provide the key to analyzing Internet sites online and cross-matching data (2004:12). Besides, virtual ethnography enable the researcher involved herself in the field to learn and observe the practice in the cyberspace and she did questionnaire virtually, where this supported Carter's research method, “Virtual support communities supply complex and varied materials for ethnographic research”. Yet I found that the offline meetings used in this research which able to provide useful backup when discussing authenticity and truthfulness (Carter, 2005:150), Sade-Back make Cater's argument stronger with posits that “the ‘offline' interview provided me with a means to attain information about a particular person and the wider social-cultural context in which the interviewees live” (2004:11). Again, the advantages of using online questionnaire which Cater purposely make it a mixture of open and closed questions which provide an insight into the creation and to capture the motivations, interests and perceptions of the respondents with regard to various issues (Carter, 2005:150). In parallel, the same method used by Costello & Moore (2007:129), stated that the open-ended questions were enable the respondents to offer spontaneous qualitative insights, which had mentioned in the second journal above. In contrast, when it comes to the weakness of the method used in this journal, I argue that too many questions sets in the survey might not a good idea as Cater did, Evans and Mathur argue that, “clear instruction need to be short and clear, to prevent the participants exit a survey without finishing the entire due to frustrated” (2005:202). Furthermore, it is understood that there is a physical distance between parties and Internet transforms the act of writing into “speech” (Sade-Back, 2004:3), which supported by Mann & Stewart (2000, cited in Cater, 2005:152), addressed the problem of active deception, also, some questionnaires are untrustworthy. The credibility of truthfulness in virtual space is being question as Cater asks, “How could I know if my informants in Cybercity were truthful?” (2005:151).

In conclusion, there are strengths and weaknesses of course for every research method as evaluate above, yet it depends on the way how researcher use and conduct in the right way, the ethical obligations need to be concern always. There are several media research methodologies discusses above which attempted to map a basic idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the methods and offer some technique to help future researchers to generate a reliable data. I employ with the prevailing opinion which support by other scholars could underpinning of media research methodologies that discussed above. Moreover, the arguments discusses above definite able to contribute and derive some essential points and understanding to the future researchers those who studying media and explore further of the research methodologies.

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