We had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Professor Cynthia King, who is a Professor of Communications at Cal State Fullerton. She has vast knowledge of media research due to her experience in the field. She is also responsible for creating the COMM 410 class. It was interesting to get her input when it came to her research and what she thought about our own research.
I’ll Take ‘Research Topic’ for 400, Alex!
Deciding on a research topic can be an intimidating task considering it’s the primary step in conducting research. To understand the fundamentals of choosing a problem and formulating a question surrounding it, we began our interview with Professor King by asking questions relating to this issue.
First, we wanted to know her thought process in regards to her own research question. Her research begins at the University of Alabama, where Professor King received a Guggenheim fellowship to study media violence. During this time, she enrolled in a course on humor, where she learned about different theories surrounding the concept. Since she was researching media violence, King was analyzing a significant amount of violent films at the time, and noticed trends regarding how those films played with humor. She noted that humor is hostile and aggressive by nature and a question that continuously crossed her mind was, “why do we find something funny?” She was particularly interested in how violent action films utilized humor and how it affected audience distress, and thus her research topic was born.
By putting pieces together, Professor King formed a study, backed by theoretical support, that sought to expose the obscure effects of humor in violent media. She pulled inspiration from personal observations in conjunction with her interest in violent media to create her research topic. Professor King advises students to do the same. Building off of what is already present, along with asking why is how research happens. The best research topics surface by utilizing personal observations, questioning why specific trends emerge in society and getting curious about the world around you.
We asked what had to be her favorite part of her research process.
We went back to asking her a more general question about her research. We were curious as to what her favorite part of her research process was. She told us that it was video editing for her. It was something she has never done. For her research, it consisted of 4 videos. She struggled with getting the audio at the right position. We related to her when she said she didn’t come from a production background. We are Communication majors, but we aren’t experts when it comes to video editing. We chose paths that don’t consist heavily towards video creating and editing. It may sound shocking, but we are still learning. Professor King didn’t have experience when it came to video editing, but she got the job done. She enjoyed the experience and it made us feel better about our own experience.
She explained to us what had to be her least favorite part.
Not everything is perfect when it comes to research. You have your ups and downs. Professor King had parts where she struggled. She had done her research years ago. Technology was not as advanced as it is now. She didn’t have Qualtrics or the other programs we have today. Her research was a survey that was conducted on pencil and paper. It resulted in many pages that she had to manually put into a computer. It was a tedious process for her.
As you can see, these are some of the results that Professor King got from conducting her studies. She had to manually differentiate each survey she received to maintain accurate results.
We asked her about how to get people to be part of the research process.
Great research comes with great responsibility. If you want to conduct good research, then you need to test your research. You can go down the quantitative route or qualitative. Both are very resourceful, but can make or break your research. Not only that, but you can’t conduct research without people. It is key when conducting research. Professor King put it in a simple way. We have to beg. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer much when it comes to getting people to participate. We have to rely on the kindness of people to participate. Ask our classmates to participate. We are fortunate enough to have technology to allow people to participate without taking too much time out of their day. They can do it from their cellphones and we will have the results in minutes.
Does excessive social media consumption create close-minded individuals?
During our interview with Professor King, we ran our research topic by her to see if we were on the right track. Professor King informed us that our research topic may be too broad and gave some tips on how to fix that. She suggested that we search Cal State Fullerton’s database for articles about social media and politics and get ideas that way. This will help us get inspiration for our own research topic. As of 2020, 79 percent of Americans are on social media. Because so many people are on social media, it may be difficult to compare the open-mindedness of social media users versus non-social media users. We took some of her advice and discussed with each other some trends we’ve seen in social media users. We have noticed that there are so many polarized viewpoints on social media. Not many people are willing to hear each other out. Many people on social media believe that their views are the only right views and it has created a huge divide. We want to dive more into this for our research topic.
Professor King highlighted the importance of research, and more importantly, accurate research. She also gave us an honest breakdown of what it means to be a researcher, which is valuable for students still choosing a career path. We will use her notes and knowledge to further better our own research and project.
Our interview with Professor King.