What Exactly is Media Research?

Remember the days when you thought Wikipedia had all the answers you ever needed? And  were you ever told by a librarian or a teacher that Wikipedia was an unreliable source of information? I certainly was and I can say that I was disappointed that I could no longer find information the ‘easy’ way. Since then, I think it’s fair to assume that research is perceived by many as a long and frustrating process to obtain information. However, many of us unknowingly engage in research every day, whether it be online shopping or job hunting. These are examples of a casual form of research, which in simple terms, means ‘to search for, to find’ (Berger, 2014, pg.14). So, how is media research different to everyday research?

Media research, similar to scholarly research requires a much more systematic and objective approach and features a selective process based on truth and accuracy as opposed to everyday research which is less cautious in its selective process (Berger, 2014, pg. 14). The media research process features 7 steps:

Observation -> Initial data gathering ->Theory construction ->Hypothesis construction ->further data gathering -> Analysis of data and conclusion.

In regards to data, there are two forms that can be used, Qualitative and Quantitative.  Qualitative is principally focused on the analysis, assessment and judgement of a text and applying appropriate theoretical concepts , whereas Quantitative is focused on statistics, measurements and surveys and designing research and gathering data first-hand.

In regards to the content of media research, there is a broad range of topics which can be covered including comics, literature, art film, gangsta rap and reality TV, just to name a few. As a self-claimed cinema buff, I am very interested to utilise the fore-mentioned scholarly research methods to investigate the current state of art-house cinema and whether the increase in VOD (Video-on –Demand) services is contributing to the exposure of independent films. My initial observation of independent cinema and its relationship with VOD has shown that independent films are benefitting from VOD services such as Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, amongst others. In an article published on USA Today, Paula Bernstein claims that “VOD provides a potential audience of 100 million in North America alone” (Bernstein, 2013). Although this isn’t a thorough piece of evidence and is rather vague in its estimation method, it is a good start and I look forward to exploring further into the subject, by delving deeper into the scholarly research process.

References:

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

Bernstein, P 2013, ‘Independent films are finding their audiences on VOD’, USA Today ,  October 28th 2013, viewed 17th March 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/10/26/independent-films-finding-vod-audience-indiewire/3151265/

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