BCM212, what a roller coaster ride. Coming into this subject I didn’t know what to expect. I have learnt so much about myself as a student and as a researcher, and I found genuine interest in the topic of my research which was a bonus. Could I have been more organised? Yes. Always. A uni student without a ridiculous schedule just doesn’t exist, but I got there in the end and that’s what counts at the end of the day.
My assignment was all about university students and how they receive their news, and why they choose to receive it in this way. I wanted to do this because it is something that genuinely interested me. When I conducted background research into this topic, I found a tonne of interesting articles about students and the way that they can often be manipulated into believing specific news articles because of the visual components as opposed to being focused on the reliability of their news sources. An article by the (American Press Institute, 2015) said that millennials “discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.” This reiterates the idea that this generation in the digital era care little about the reliability and reputation of their sources, but will believe whatever it is that they see. So, I went out to prove or disprove this theory. Most of the research I found was based in university’s in the United States, so I wanted to see what I would get from gathering data from the same types of questions but by local University students instead.
I liked the idea of a quick survey to gather my qualitative data. My survey was quick, 6 short questions not requiring a lot of time. My fellow peers who completely my survey said it took them 3-4 minutes. This means of receiving the data was quick, easy to distribute and easy to access, and results were provided to me instantly. Being part of such a big and supportive cohort meant that within a few tutorials I have over 20 responses, and then with a quick share on the UOW Students Buy and Sell page I was lucky to enough to get the response number up to 41.
Insanely helpful blogger (The Research Whisperer, 2017) writes that: “Saying you’re going to analyse qualitative data gathered by interviews to look for patterns of consumer behavior means I know:
- Interviews will take place.
- An analysis will take place.
- Findings from that analysis will (hopefully) be used in X and Y ways to answer the original research question.”
Knowing this, I tried to ensure that my final report showed each of these three steps in action. This helped to ensure that I was correctly using the data that was provided by the responders to my advantage in this project. After publishing the survey, my final report was where the analysis stage took place. I was able to find common themes in answers which helped to provide an answer for the initial research question. Based on the background research I had done, I was expecting some answers (i.e. most students sourced their news from the internet), but some were definitely more surprising (i.e. students like to cross reference their news with other news platforms to ensure that it is reliable). The surprising parts were the essence of this assignment for me.
My communication with responders was a bit lacking. I only gave two updates throughout the course of the semester in the form of blog posts. In the future, I think that I would try and do weekly/fortnightly blog post updates, and would even consider including a place in the survey for responders to enter their email address to receive updates, so that they can feel more involved in the progress of the research, and how their opinion and participation was of great aid.
Axiology plays a huge part in any research as it did for me. Ensuring that your values and the aims of your research are known to responders (Research Methodology, 2016), is what helps to ensure integrity of the information given. The beginning of my survey had a written message which said that in pressing ‘Submit’ at the end of the survey was the responder consenting for their opinions to be used for further research.
Overall, this project has helped me to become a more thorough and observant researcher. I am better able to recognise the need for communication, organisation and the importance of research in day to day life.