Problematisation, Planning and Scheduling Research

header image source: Malcolm’s Collages, ‘Movie Collage’

As outlined in my previous blog posts, the media niche I have chosen to study is the movie commentary community on Youtube. Now that we are a couple weeks in, it’s time to find an interesting angle to really focus in on. This will not only help me produce an original report and digital artefact, but will allow me, as an ethnographer, to better understand how my niche think, feel and experience the elements of their community.

Problematisation of My Media Niche:

Alvesson and Sandberg (2013) describe problematisation as the structured questioning of concrete elements, perspectives and theories, preferably at a paradigmatic level, while offering a positive formulation of compelling research questions. Essentially, the foundation of problematisation is to treat those involved as something that needs to be solved.

Since my niche is centred around people reacting to and commentating on films and TV shows, I’ve always wondered just how much the Youtubers’ opinions influence those of the audience members. Therefore, I believe an interesting angle to this issue would be investigating just how impressionable the members of the audience are. Do the audience members only laugh when the Youtuber laughs, or do they genuinely find the film funny? If the Youtuber gets emotional while watching a drama, does that then inflict the same sadness onto the viewer? These are the questions worth investigating.

image source: Kendra Cherry

Project Research Planning:

The more I look into this niche and analyse the way the individuals involved operate, the more I understand the appeal and get that sense of community. But, in order to effectively do this, a research plan must be implemented. Mapping out a series of tasks to do will ensure I am prepared and on track with the work I must do. A sample of the tasks I will perform are listed below:

  • following the top creators’ social media — staying up to date
  • looking at the concept of fan accounts — and how they engage with other fans
  • examining Youtube and social media posts — any patterns in the content being produced?
  • investigating the content and engagement — social media posts, likes, comments, followers
  • assessing patterns in comments
  • how I’ll record my field notes:
    • handwritten: dot points, mind maps
    • screenshots: statistics and progress (subscriber count, likes, followers)

Research Schedule:

Creating a Gantt chart will ensure I perform all the right tasks, and do so on time. The list of tasks below will be performed in the weeks according to the table above. Emerging myself in the niche will give me an insight into how the community functions, allowing me to experience the niche first-hand. This will ensure I obtain the widest range and most detailed research possible. So, what does each task involve?

  • find media niche: 
    • decide on a media niche
  • secondary research: 
    • initial research
    • academic journals
    • studies in this field
    • methods of research — which will be best for me?
  • observation:
    • watch videos
    • find patterns in the comments
    • look for unique features of the comments
    • assess interactions between fans and creators
    • examine social media features
  • auto-ethnography:
    • get involved in the community
    • comment on videos
    • engage with content on social media
  • further reading:
    • scholarly articles
    • previous ethnographic studies
  • produce content:
    • start digital artefact
    • post quality content
  • finalise report:
    • summarise findings
    • share results

Reference List:

Alvesson, M. & Sandberg, J. (2013) Generating research questions through problematisation, Constructing Research Questions.

Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 373-393.

Catherine, D. (2002). ‘Practical Research Methods’, A User-Friendly Guide to Mastering Research Techniques and Projects, HowTo Books: Oxford, pp. 101-108.

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