As research has increasingly become an essential part of the communications profession, lacking such skills will put our students in a disadvantaged position when they enter the workforce, where such attributes may be vital to survive and thrive. It is critical that we make extra efforts to ensure that our graduates are well equipped with such competence.
In fact, research should not be misunderstood as dull numbers or statistics. It means much more than that. In the field of communications, research embraces a variety of concepts, tasks, and skills that are of real necessity to the profession. For example, fact-checking what a news source says is research; collecting evidence to substantiate an argument made in an advertising/marketing message is research; analyzing public records to draft a press release for crisis management in public relations (PR) is research.
“Be curious and cautious.” That is always my motto. That can also serve as the advice for my research methods students.
We had the opportunity to speak with Professor Cynthia King to discuss research methods and her experiences with conducting research. Dr. King is a professor at Cal State Fullerton who wrote a book titled Entertainment & Society: Influences, Impacts, and Innovations. Before earning her Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Alabama, she went to Florida State University to get a Master’s Degree in Political Science. Throughout our hour-long discussion, we gained some insight into what the best methods would be for us to conduct our own research. Our research we will soon be conducting will be on social media advertisements and which mediums prove to be the most effective. Dr. King was able to give us insight based on her seasoned background with entertainment and media psychology. With the rise of popularity in social media and constantly evolving algorithms, it is imperative to apply research to understand the changes patterns. Dr. King was able to give us an understanding of her background, methods and concepts to give us a greater insight for our project.
By Gwynnevere De La Cruz Lauren Nadal Caitlin Dempsey April 14, 2022
From lecturing to responding to comments and questions from students, posting content on ASI social media channels, updating the ASI calendar and budget, sending emails, and meeting with her social media and marketing staff, this is a typical workday for ASI Marketing Coordinator Quinn Corralejo. A CSUF Alumni, she received her bachelor’s degree in Business administration in 2017. She received her MBA in 2019 in organizational leadership; and is currently receiving her Ph.D. in business management, where shes focusing on strategy and innovation at Capella University. As ASI Marketing Coordinator, Corralejo has developed a better understanding of how to use social media to target GenZ and guide her ASI staff in improving their communication and marketing abilities.
Do you believe Twitter is a viable way to collect data for communications research? Journalist and CSUF Professor Frank Russell goes in-depth about his past experiences using Twitter and other social media sites for data research.
Professor Russell had worked in the news industry for over 20 years for newspapers such as San Jose Mercury News, The Seattle Times, and The Los Angeles Daily, among other newspapers. Near the end of his time in journalism, he worked in digital journalism.
Humans have been making music for over 35,000 thousand years. The oldest manufactured instrument is the flute, originally made out of mammoth ivory. Today, there are over 1,500 musical instruments used individually or together to make the music we listen to every day. Advancements in technology have also allowed us to make and listen to music more efficiently, making it easier to take music with us wherever we go. After interviewing researcher and Professor Waleed Rashidi regarding music and its related technology, we were able to gain some insight on their important roles in students’ lives today.
By Alan Ramirez, Branden Richards, and Gabriel Gonzalez
We’d like to first give a huge thank you to Dr. Assaf for clearing time in her busy schedule to talk with us and share her expertise with us on our topic. She was a huge help and provided a lot of insight into the topic of our study.
Discussion with Dr. Elise Assaf
What Is Your Current Knowledge On The Social Media Platform, Tik Tok?
We began our interview by asking Dr. Assaf about what her prior knowledge on Tik Tok was. Her answer was that although she has heard a lot about Tik Tok and finds herself learning a lot about it in her field of communications she did not have the app herself. She also acknowledged that her previous knowledge on the app was anecdotal. This question was followed by a conversation by Brendan about the addiction of social media itself. Brendan expressed his love/hate relationship with Tik Tok which entails him downloading the app. Then realizing he has been on it way too long and deleting it. Then later out of boredom downloading the app again. Assaf related with us and expressed how sometimes when she opens up Instagram and notices that there isn’t anything new to look at she feels a little sense of frustration as well as wondering where new content is as well as sometimes trying to search herself for new content.
By Jake Saavedra, Vanessa Feliciano, Lily Hong, Jocelyn Castanon
Dr. Portia Jackson Preston is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at California State University, Fullerton. She conducts research on multilevel approaches to self-care, and examines how stressors such as media contribute to health inequity. She was a featured speaker at TEDxCrenshaw, where she gave a speech entitled “The Missing Ingredient in Self-Care”. She works with organizations to prevent and manage burnout by making sustainable performance and resilience.
By Janet Chavarria, Joanne Dao, Zoey Nguyen, Daniella Perez
Currently working as a Communications professor at California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Mark Guohua Wu is an expert in the field of Advertising and Online Consumer Behavior. With his 22 years of teaching experiences, he gave us insights into the field of Communication research.
Dr. Wu received his academic degrees in Advertising from the Top 50 world-renowned universities, such as a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, an M.Sc. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. He is most well-known for his invention of the construct of “perceived interactivity of websites”. According to the Journal of Current Issues and Research, Dr. Wu was named the Top Cited Advertising Scholar.
We met with Dr. Wu for an interview where he shared with us his personal experiences with quantitative data collection and his thoughts on social media as a research tool. Below, we share the main points of our discussion with him.
Managing a large pool of data when conducting quantitative research
With his research expertise, Dr. Wu tends to focus more on quantitative data. One difficulty that comes along with conducting this type of research is the size of the pool of data that is drawn. However, Dr. Wu is not intimidated by these larger quantities ––– he emphasizes that the larger the pool, the better the data will turn out to be. He takes a headstrong approach and told us right away that he would likely utilize SPSS softwares when dealing with larger data base. ” [It] allows me to do a lot of complicated statical analysis, from descriptive statistics to inferential statistics.” said Dr. Wu, explaining his reasoning behind using this software. He went on to explain that he leans towards structural equation modeling. The exploration of the relationships between all of the different variables allows the most conclusive research to be done.
Bias & Errors within quantitative data
The key to any quantitative research is measurement. When using quantitative methods like survey research, we are trying to measure variables and we make sure those variables are accurately scaled using measurement scales. Dr. Wu explains that the most important part of survey research is survey design and that is where lots of errors are made.
Potential bias can stem from many types of errors within the design phase. “Survey design has lots of errors. We have all kinds of errors,” said Dr. Wu. “ We have sampling errors, and the non-sampling errors which are pretty much the measurement errors.” Measurement errors comes from many different sources, be it the sample, the researchers, the respondents, and even the survey instruments itself. To reduce sampling errors, Dr. Wu suggests that we increase sample size; however, researchers need to trade-off between the costs and the sample size. For other measurement errors, he expressed the importance of making sure that researchers, research assistants, and even those who may participate in the survey should be properly trained.
” There are no true [ways] to eliminate all biases. We just do the best we can to make sure the design is solid, and the measurement skills are valid. “
– Dr. Mark Wu
Suggestions for beginners when dealing with potential challenges
First and foremost, to be able to deal with a large data base, data errors, and research methodologies, students need to pay attention to the foundation of research, which is the knowledge that is commonly taught in college classes. Dr. Wu recommends students to conduct their own research and be detail-oriented when it comes to data collecting and its concepts. “If you’re doing quantitative research, be as objective as possible…Underline the assumptions of quantitative research, try to find the truth, and you don’t want your personal opinions get into the process,” said Dr. Wu.
Social media as a research tool
When asked to share his thoughts on social media as a research tool, Dr. Wu shared that platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are “ the new forms of communication and [is] definitely where lots of research have been done to address social issues.” He further explained that social media research deals a lot with analytics, where you can track data and visualize it. Data visualization is definitely helpful with research as you can track and see how people respond to certain things they see online.
Is social media an advantage when it comes to research?
Social media is definitely advancing and it will continue to grow in the future, but the fundamentals of research will always stay the same. Dr. Wu shares that there is not much of an advantage per se as research are still done the same way today as it was done back in his days. However, social media has definitely helped with accelerating the speed of data gathering and there are a lot more data available today. Essentially, old tools are now being put to use in the domain of social media.
Advice for student researcher
Before ending the interview, Dr. Wu left us with a piece of much-appreciated advice for beginners in research: finding patterns is crucial when you go through a tremendous amount of data. “Students need to cast through the noise,…and find insights,” said Dr. Wu. When dealing with a pool of information, finding the right one is tricky. Hence, methods taught in research classes will utterly become a helpful assistant in helping you select the information that you need for further analysis along the journey of data research and collecting.
Professor Heather Osborne-Thompson is a scholar and associate professor at Cal State Fullerton within the Radio/TV/Film department. Having been awarded her Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Journalism from the University of New Hampshire along with her Master’s and Doctorate in Cinema-Television Critical Studies from the University of Southern California, our team found her to be a qualified expert on the topic of gender and genre in television; both contemporary and historical. As such, we had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Thompson to discuss her own work of research within the scope of women’s comedy entitled: “Routine Adjustments: Re-Viewing Women’s TV Comedy Genres, 1950-1969”. According to Thompson, the idea for this graduate program dissertation research stemmed from a desire to bring more attention to women who would not conform to society’s set expectations for them. In other words, the women who strayed from the typical stay-at-home mother and wife role that was broadcasted and encouraged across the nation in the 50s and 60s. Thompson stated that she wanted to find more information on not only these kinds of women, but also the “funny women who say things you’re not supposed to say, and behave in ways that are different from the cues we get about how we [women] are supposed to behave”. As a result of deciding upon this research topic, Thompson was certain that the next steps of developing this subject would be to take a closer look at the traditions from which female comedians had come from, as well as examine different types of historical evidence in regards to the way these women were understood and portrayed by the media (newspapers, radio, television, etc). Ultimately, this meant delving deep into the early feminist movement and looking at the way performances done by female comedians impacted the difficult and often sad issues addressed within comedy at the time.
Advertisements are executed differently based on the target audience. Pink, a color generally associated with a feminine color, is used for many women target products. Blue, generally associated with a more masculine product, is used for many male presenting products. But how would one go about creating an advertisement with a more inclusive audience and not following gender norms?
To get an idea of what research needs to be conducted when looking at various forms and tactics of advertisement, we sat down with Robert Meeds. Professor Meeds’s research focuses on the impact different forms of advertisement have on individuals. Meeds teaching areas at Cal State, Fullerton are advertising, integrated marketing communications, and public relations.
Can you tell us a little bit about your previous research, and are you currently in the process of conducting research?
Meeds spent 11 years at Kansas State, where he was heavily involved in research and was a point of contact for many graduate students conducting their research. He has dabbled in different research areas and typically does not stay in the same topic framework, but his primary research interest revolves around persuasive language. Persuasive language is used to persuade the public to buy their products. This is done through billboards, flyers, social media, and other mediums where advertisements are promoted. Meeds is interested in the micro-level factors that copywriters can manipulate to make a difference in what people remember in hopes of producing more persuasive content.
“If you try to be a jack of all traits you will be a master of none.”
What are the steps you take when attempting to conduct research?
As researchers, one mustn’t feel unsure about trying different things in hopes of finding a correlation between two different things. Meeds’s research was explored by playing around with varying slogans of advertising, specifically sin texts. All of those various explorations in hopes of finding out if different sin texts make a difference in how people remember slogans. Empirical research is mostly experimental-based research based on observations and measurements. The majority of the research conducted by Meeds is experimental. This rests on the questions and hypothesis made and asked at the beginning of the research on whether x, the dependent variable, causes y, the independent variable. When looking at empirical methodologies, most of the steps taken are through a system where things are measured. The independent variables are put in categories such as treatment and control, and the dependent variables operate through a numerical line. Through these research steps, questions and hypotheses can be answered on whether the change observed is meaningful and if the statistic used to test correlates.
Did you encounter any problems or difficult obstacles when conducting your research?
Robert Meeds states that he had to handle unexpected problems during his research. For many years, Meeds has worked in the field of Communications specifically, advertising research. Meeds states that one should always expect the unexpected obstacles due to history. He goes further, indicating the challenges due to his field of study. The problems he struggles with does not end until the work has been peer reviewed and that is an obstacle within itself. Meeds states that when you finish a study and go to submit it, those reviewing your article may not have the narrow or specific expertise in that specific area of research, which can also be an obstacle.
Do you have any advice for those that are going to attempt to begin the research process that you learned through your experience in your own research?
Professor Meeds not only gave us advice on how to conduct research, but did so through an example based on a general topic of research we presented him with. He began with, “If you are only presenting the topic, and if your research was based upon if color made a difference when advertising the assumption through advertisers is that you would use more colors that were thought historically to be more feminine for women, and use more masculine colors for men. I would center the ad around a gender neutral product. As well as using a Fictitious brand so there are no pre-existing biases.”
Without even describing the sample and execution of the ad, Professor Meeds has already described two essential steps in solidifying the credibility of a research study. He continued with, “You want everything about that ad to be as gender neutral as you can make it. The Imagery, the Typography, and the product itself. And having the one independent variable to be the color scheme.”
Meeds was really emphasizing the importance of the survey. Describing this to be one of the most important factors of maintaining composition within your study. Listening to Professor Meeds walk us through his hypothetical allowed us to understand his thought process when conducting research. Who he chose to study and why, and their relation to the subject. In this instance he described using CSUF students that are ideally balanced out between male and females. To have a better understanding of not only how the younger generation viewed this ad, but their personal biases towards imagery and colors reflected their overall opinion and happiness of the ad.
Have you found that the impact people get from others online is more negative or positive?
Dr. Vendemia believes the impact to be both positive and negative in an equal manner as there is not enough evidence to confidently choose one over the other. There are a number of variables that need to be taken into account. For example, those who are passively versus actively viewing content on social media, whom they are following, what kind of content they post themselves, and what their views of societal expectations consist of. However, Vendemia mentioned, “sometimes what might be positive for the content creator such as posting a picture of themselves online opens themselves up to public scrutiny or a level of self-consciousness.” This contributes to the possible need to reinforce the idea that physical appearance is central to one’s overall identity. Oftentimes, the focus on physical appearance can take away from other significant and valuable characteristics that may otherwise be overlooked or completely unknown. Although people enjoy receiving compliments, for people to consistently utilize social media as a way to receive positive feedback can increasingly become less and less fulfilling. Dr. Vendemia said, essentially, “over time, continually getting this reinforcing feedback is unsustainable.” This can especially become dangerous when oftentimes people “tether their self-worth” to instant gratification and validation. Naturally, people’s appearances will change, and this mindset can often lead to unhappiness with physical appearance, editing photographs, and even cosmetic surgeries.