How Matt Gets Science News

To test pilot our questionaire for BCM210 (as well as my own interview techniques) I recorded an interview with an old housemate and recent UOW graduate Matthew Bernard – a technique advocated for by Priest (2010).

I think this process largely worked pretty well. I probably needed to talk with more authority and clarity when asking the questions at times, but I was pleased with my ability to ask appropriate clarifying questions on the fly when it was needed. I think that had I practiced the questions a little more beforehand to familiarize myself with them I would have sounded a little more confident in my delivery (Wimmer and Dominick 2006).

I also think I did a pretty good job of making clarifying statements or questions without falling into the trap of pushing my subject into answering in a certain way. Having said that it was probably not the best to say “…I assume you don’t read newspapers or magazines” because that does discourage the subject from saying that they do if I am mistaken (although in this case having lived with Matt I already knew this to be true – so my familiarity with the subject played a part in this mistake as well). This is also an example of how easily biases can be unintentionally encoded into the questions through their wording (Priest 2010)

Evidently the final question “can you list 5 words you associate with the type of science news/information you use?” has some issues in it that need to be ironed out. The way the question is phrased currently suddenly puts a large, on-the-spot demand on the subjects ability to answer in a way that they’re satisfied with. It’s essentially a double-barrelled question with a certain prestige bias – in that the respondent may actually be assessing their own scientific understandings just as much as the scientific content they consume (De Vause 2002) We originally intended to include this question as a focus group question, thinking it would be too open ended for a written survey. But I think that it’s a lot for the subject to think about on the spot. Matt was visibly caught off-guard by this question and even after some additional prompts by me he only really got around to listing two words rather than the requested five? As Krueger and Casey (cited in Wimmer and Dominick 2006, p. 132) the questions in a focus group work best when they are conversational, short and clear; which I don’t think is true of this question. So either this question might be better for the written survey after all or it might need to be tweaked slightly to make it less intimidating in an interview or focus group scenario.

I also feel that we need to develope just a few more questions to help develope a clearer picture of how subjects engage with scientific news and how they perceive their own scientific literacy. It also dawned on me the importance of asking how interested the participants were in any aspects of science at all. Since conducting this interview I have developed around four further questions for the group to consider using in the survey.



References

De Vaus, D A 2002, ‘Constructing questionnaires’, in De Vaus, D. A. Surveys in social research, 5th ed, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, N.S.W, pp. 94-121

Priest, S H 2010, ‘Designing quantitative research: surveys, experiments, and quantitative content analysis’, in Doing media research : an introduction, 2nd ed., Sage, London, pp. 71-94

Wimmer and Dominick 2006, ‘Qualitative Research Methods’, in Mass Media Research (no further information available)

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Exploring the Opacities of Research

Another podcasted blog in which I critique and analyse the research being conducted in this anonymous article.

References

Anonymous 2013, “EXPLOREit” gets ICRISAT’s science to the public, Research Information Ltd, Burnham, last seen 9 April 2015 http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1468874143?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=15112&selectids=10000025,1007898,1007899,1007900,1007901,1007902,1007903,1007897

Berger, A A 2014, ‘What is research?’, in AA Berger (ed.), Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32 https://tr.uow.edu.au/uow/integ/gen/efbbb3eb-460f-4c9c-9a32-bff4e80e1468/1/?attachment.uuid=56dd5898-5d6d-470a-90fc-4d8b879a6e42&token=ajb843%3AlibraryERL%3A1428577686000%3AixTReuS7a7saNX%2F3%2BVuCbw%3D%3D

Stop Whinging About Ethics!

This weekI have decided to experiment and subject you all to my voice – which becomes unnaturally expressive when I’m reading into a recording device.

Here is the TED talk by Boghuma Kabisen Titanj – who I owe a deep apology for probably messing up her name.

References

Tinkler, P 2013, ‘Ethical issues and legalities’, in Using photographs in social and historical research, SAGE, London, pp. 195-208

Boghuma Kabisen Titanji. (2013). Boghuma Kabisen Titanji: Ethical riddles in HIV research. [YouTube]. 16 August. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcecqQkyKoM [Accessed: 10 January 2013].

Weerakkody, N D 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, in Research methods for media and communications, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, South Melbourne, Vic., pp. 73-91

Yale University. (2011). Research Ethics. [YouTube]. 16 August. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD-YCDE_5yw. [Accessed: 29 March 2015]

Dissecting the Latest in Video Game Gender Research

The fight for better gender representation (as well as better representation of minorities) is one of the biggest and most important issues facing the games industry and gaming culture generally at the moment. As much as nineteen years ago, Melissa Chaika (1996) had identified a strong male bias in the way video games were designed and marketed; concluding that there is an untapped multi-billion-dollar market for games within the female population.

wq-money-woman-300x288

Artists impression of the results of successfully marketing to women (sourced from here)

The long term failure of the industry to understand the current audience for video games and market their products accordingly is exactly what Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch wanted to ascertain in their research, which surveyed over 1500 students between the ages of 11 and 18 to give a clear understanding of how young consumers feel about video games in relation to gender (Hall 2015). Using Berger’s (2014) criteria for assessing research, I will evaluate the research presented by Wiseman and Burch at the Game Developers Conference in 2015 (GDC 2015) in terms of the methodology employed and the conclusions that were drawn from the resulting data.

Representation of failure to market to women (sourced from here)

Representation of failure to market to women (sourced from here)

What methodology was used? (Berger 2014)

A survey was done of over 1500 students in the US. The students were broken down into groups based on both gender and by age (whether they were in middle school or high school). The survey asked students a range of relevant questions regarding how often they play games, how they perceive gender in games, does gender representation matter to them, and so on (Hall 2015). The questions asked as well as the results can be viewed in full here.

How is it important to the topic? (Berger 2014)

The topic is “what does the market for future video game audiences look like?” So these questions presented as part of a wide reaching survey seem like an ideal way to create a picture of what “typical consumers” are like.

Analysis of the conclusions (Berger 2014)

There are several conclusions being drawn here. Wiseman and Burch (cited in Hall 2015) argued that the general implications of the research show that there is an unmet demand for video games that feature “strong, dignified, self-possessed female protagonists” and that by neglecting this demand they risk alienating large numbers of their audience and losing out on financial gains. These conclusions seem to be largely supported by the data at hand, which showed that the female preference for playing a female character far outweighed the preference for males to play as males (Wiseman and Burch 2015).

https://twitter.com/ashly_burch/status/573614989715447808

It is worth noting that these conclusions can only really be made regarding an American audience, given the subjects of the survey. Also worth mentioning is that these conclusions and even the details of the study methodology are not yet available for first-hand access – these are detailed via an article written by a journalist who attended the conference where these conclusions are given. Although Burch herself tweeted to recommend the article to people, which strongly supports the notion that the conclusions discussed in the article are the same as those presented by Wiseman and Burch at GDC 2015.

Rosalind Wiseman is an author and spokesperson regarding the emotional and physical wellbeing of children and teens (Wiseman 2015). Ashly Burch is a prolific voice actor in the video game industry (Burch 2015). Given these credentials and the fact that they were invited to present their research at GDC 2015 suggests that these two women are highly credible experts who are respected in the video game industry.

A more comprehensive analysis of the research will be published at a later date according to Wiseman and Burch (cited in Hall 2015).

References

Berger, A A 2014, ‘What is research?’, in AA Berger (ed.), Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32.

Burch, A 2015, ‘I am Ashly Burch’, Ashly Burch, viewed 22 March 2015 http://www.ashlyburch.com/

Chaika, M 1996, ‘Computer game marketing bias’, Crossroads, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 9-12.
http://delivery.acm.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/10.1145/340000/332136/p4-chaika.pdf?ip=130.130.37.85&id=332136&acc=ACTIVE%20SERVICE&key=65D80644F295BC0D.CA3A6FFE840CC1FE.4D4702B0C3E38B35.4D4702B0C3E38B35&CFID=647182127&CFTOKEN=94485518&__acm__=1426992850_94116b3ebb8b2d46214d5be1cd26421c

Hall, C 2015, ‘The games industry is wrong about kids, gaming and gender (update)’, Polygon, 5 March, viewed 22 March 2015 http://www.polygon.com/2015/3/5/8153213/the-games-industry-is-wrong-about-kids-gaming-and-gender

Wiseman, R 2015, ‘Rosalind’s biography’, Rosalind Wiseman, viewed 22 March 2015 http://rosalindwiseman.com/about-us/rosalinds-bio/

Wiseman, R and Burch, A 2015, ‘GDC 15//Slide deck’, Rosalind Wiseman, 4 March, viewed 22 March 2015 http://rosalindwiseman.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GDC.15.pdf

Time to research a clever blog title

As I scrolled idly down my Facebook timeline I was suddenly struck with an article being shared by Science Alert with an eye grabbing headline. “Dogs prefer to poo along a north-south axis” is a story published by Fiona MacDonald (2015) which covers the results, conclusions, and research methodology utilised in a study that Hart et al (2013) conducted in order to test whether dogs exhibit certain behaviours in alignment with the lines of the Earth’s magnetic field, as many other mammals do. This serves as an example of scholarly research.

Image sourced from here

Scholarly research differentiates itself from the trivial research we conduct in our day to day lives in that it is a systematic process that attempts to remove the personal influences of those conducting it, and instead hopes to reach conclusions that are objective and truthful (McCutcheon 2015). There is a process involved when setting out and conducting research of an academic nature; one involving the identification of a gap in existing research, assessing the importance of filling that gap, putting forward a reasonable and testable hypothesis, designing an appropriate research methodology that will meet funding, time, and skill restraints, identifying ethical issues involved with the research and methodolgy, and then processing the data collected and drawing an appropriate conclusion (Berger 2014). To use the aforementioned dog defecation research as an example; the researchers built on the related background research on mammalian magnetosensitivity and saw that insufficient research had been conducted the behaviours of dogs. From there they designed an appropriate research method and experiment, conducted it, gathered and processed the data before reaching the conclusion that dogs prefer to orient themselves in a north-south direction when pooping, and will actively avoid an east-west orientation (Berger 2014; Hart et al 2013).

Image sourced from here

So when it comes time to conducting my own media research I want to look at how the online campaign known as “gamergate” (or #gamergate) has been covered in both mainstream news media and video games media outlets (chosen because gamergate is an issue relating to “gamer” culture). Gamergate is a complex social and cultural phenomenon taking place across a range of digital and physical spaces, but it has become notoriously well-known for attacking feminists in the games industry who are seen to be speaking out against misogyny in games media and games culture (Archer 2015).

Gamergate is a very recent problem that has manifested and grown only within the past 8 months or so, so consequently there is currently a distinct lack of scholarly research that has been conducted and published on this culturally significant event. I plan to investigate further into this complex cultural conflict using measured, quantified research as well as analysing texts, tweets, and other related material in qualitative research to set a context for the study and assess how the media is shaping the discourse in relation to gamergate and its related issues of gender and online harassment (McCutcheon 2015; Berger 2014).

References

Archer, N 2015, ‘Studies show women play games; Water is wet’, The Tertangala, 14 March, viewed 15 March 2015, http://www.tertangala.net/studies-show-women-play-games-water-is-wet/#comment-53

Berger, A A 2014, ‘What is research?’, in AA Berger (ed.), Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32.

Hart, V., Benediktová, K., Cervený, J., Burda, H., Nováková, P., Malkemper, E.P., Begall, S., Hanzal, V., Ježek, M., Kušta, T., Němcová, V. & Adámková, J. 2013, “Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field”, Frontiers in zoology, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 80-92, http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/pdf/1742-9994-10-80.pdf

MacDonald, F 2015, ‘Dogs prefer to poo along a north-south axis’, Science Alert, 10 March, viewed 15 March 2015, http://www.sciencealert.com/dogs-prefer-to-poo-along-a-north-south-axis

McCutcheon, M 2015, ‘Lecture 2: What is media research?’, PowerPoint slides, BCM210, University of Wollongong, delivered 11 March