Researching is often something most people learn to despise, especially as we reach university. It’s boring, tedious and time-consuming, right? Well, a lot of the time that’s not necessarily the case. Research is an aspect of everyday life, although often we may not even realise it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in the mind space where I find research to be something daunting and something I’ll often avoid. When I hear the word ‘research’ I think of dry textbooks, graphs and statistics – not exactly things that pique my interests. But having thought further about the definition of research I’ve realised two things. Firstly, that it’s something we undertake everyday, whether or not we do so consciously, to influence our decisions and actions. Secondly, there is no solid definition of research, whether it be personal, scholarly or media research it’s something which is infinitively present in our day-to-day lives.
Berger (2014) dumbs down research as “looking for information about something”, which covers the broader idea of research. It’s often the simple act of asking a question and receiving an answer which may be of some value to an individual. Asking such questions allows us to make the choices which are important. And personal research isn’t nearly as intimidating as it is voluntary, I can spend endless hours looking up things about different species of hedgehogs or pygmy marmosets and how I might be able to one day own one as a pet or what it might mean when I have a headache in a specific part of my head (WARNING: Don’t do this. Google is not a doctor and will often make you paranoid that you could be on your deathbed). But when it comes to studious research I find myself suddenly less keen to explore what Google has to offer.
Scholarly research differs vastly from everyday research; it is “more systematic, more objective, more careful, and more concerned about correctness and truthfulness than everyday research.” (Berger, 2014) Personal research always involves emotions, and ultimately our opinions will trump the facts laid before us. Scholarly research, on the other hand, has to be approached in a way which is purely academic. Media research stems from this in the sense that media outlets such as television, radio and news carefully research with the aim of portraying true stories free of bias.
Although interpersonal and small group communicative research has benefits, mass media research allows larger audiences to participate in stimulated conversation. Berger (2014) discusses the effect that social media has in furthering media conversation and the ability of today’s technology allowing anyone to become a photo journalist. Conducting media research means taking a more objective and systematic approach to obtaining information. It has to be decided whether it is better to use qualitative of quantitative research.
At this point I’m not entirely sure what aspect of the media I would like to research. I’m very interested in how gender is portrayed in media and how gender stereotypes are challenged, particularly in television, magazines and advertising. Often women are objectified for the purpose of entertainment and engagement. I feel it is relevant and something which should be addressed to further pave the path of equality.
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