Sunday, September 27, 2009

Marcus' Questions

Q1) Everbach’s study on the Sarasota newspaper’s female management team interested me, largely because it was framed as if this was an anomaly – just about every newsroom I’ve worked in has been dominated by women, and now that I think about it, I’ve had many more female editors than male editors. Now I’ll believe, certainly, that this has not historically been the case; not in journalism, and not in many other fields, either. But that’s not what I’ve experienced at all, so I wonder if it’s a generational gap? Or if Texas somehow is bucking that trend, as weird as that may sound? I don’t know how it works, but it seems to me that at least recently, female journalists are outnumbering us dudes by a fairly healthy margin. In fact, I even had a job interview once where one of the editors expressly said he wanted a male for the position, just because the gender balance in the newsroom was so lopsided in favor of women – which is illegal as all get out, I know, and I wound up taking another job while they were taking way too long to make a decision, but it’s still a noteworthy point. Am I the only one that’s come across this?

Q2) How does Everbach qualify “teamwork” and “consensus?” Those seem like fairly intangible terms to me, and it seems like those are very much open to interpretation – particularly along gender lines, since that’s what she’s focusing on. Example: I’ve worked for two editors, one in college and one in the so-called real world, whose way of telling staffers they did a good job was to sling one of a dozen uncouth variations of “get back to work, shithead!” That worked fine for me, and it worked well for … well, everyone in college was fine with it, and the female reporters at the for-profit paper thought it was funny too, although some of the non-writing small-town female staffers were offended. And then they wound up getting the editor fired, the reporters bailed and the paper’s been in freefall ever since – but my point is, I would have no problem classifying “get back to work shithead” as a variety of teamwork, but I doubt that’s what Everbach was looking for. And there are other newsrooms where “Teamwork” translates to “either be best friends with the boss and everyone here, or get out,” which I’ve also had to deal with.

So, I guess my point is, how dependent is qualitative research on terminology? The Jensen piece touched on this a few weeks ago, I know, but with methods that are so dependent upon perspective, don’t we risk disqualifying or ignoring diversity simply because our data –by definition - isn’t open-ended?

Q3) Gabino and Alex both touched on Adler’s Tearoom Trade, and I thought I’d throw in my two cents as well. On the one hand, Gabino is right that consensual public sex is, by definition, a public act; part of the point is to be a spectacle, which requires an audience. But Alex is right that Adler served as a clear enabler, which – among other things – compromised his research. This wasn’t a random public act that he encountered, it’s one he helped engineer for his research, and there’s a big difference – especially when he’s labeling it as depravity. If it was all that depraved, he wouldn’t have been rigging it in the first place. So in that case, how can accountability be established? Or should it?

Q4) I like Fontana and Frey’s discussion of framing interviews, but their categories seemed pretty academic to me. They’re right, in theory, interviews can be done in a strictly sober way, or they can be very opinion-driven and conversational … in the field, I don’t think it’s possible to separate the two. On the one hand, boundaries need to be established – in most cases, expressing an opinion will set you up for trouble and criticism, especially about something contentious like politics. But on the other hand, nobody likes to talk to a robot, and the best quotes and support come from people that trust you – they know you’re a reporter or a researcher, but they also enjoy talking to you. There are a few exceptions for journalists, but I can’t imagine a researcher conducting a hostile interview, so I think it applies here. So why try to break it down, why try to doctrinally establish the best way to hold an interview? It’s the kind of thing that you can’t really be taught anyway, and if qualitative research is so defensive about being unconventional, then why try to establish a rubric here?

Q5) Note to Gabino – those “poor rich, white, middle-aged men” you speak of are all capitalists … every one of them. I’m just saying. But he does make an interesting point, and I wonder if it’s because men don’t typically conduct gender-based research? Is it that the field is too focused on traditional narratives, or simply that researchers who would present alternatives are focusing on other topics?

Yonghwan's Questions

1. Ethical issue seems important in qualitative methods. For example, when we conduct participant observation, especially in case other subjects in a specific setting do not know there is an observer-as-participant, it seems pretty unethical. For our participant observation assignment, should we let people know about what we’re going to do before or after observation? If we conduct a real research project, do we need to get IRB approval and consent form from subjects we’re going to participate and observe?

2. Interviewing method also raises ethical issues as stated that “The techniques and tactics of interviewing are really ways of manipulating respondents while treating them as objects or numbers rather than individual human beings. Should the quest for objectivity supersede the human side of those whom se study?” Other than ethical issue, however, concern about validity of qualitative interview (other qualitative research methods as well) seems important. In this sense, it seems to me that the techniques and tactics of interviewing are really important. I had a chance to see one of my colleagues conducted interviewing a subject. After the interviewing I’ve heard from the interviewee that the interview was a kind of obvious to know what the researcher want to, which may affect interviewee’s answer and damage research validity. How can we cope with this issue?

3. I understand that group interviewing or focus group interviewing in not meant to replace individual interviewing, but it is an option that deserves consideration because it can provide another level of data gathering or a perspective on the research problem not available through individual interviews (Fontana & Frey, pp. 53-54). Although the article touches on how group interviewing is used in this field, it seems still blurring to see distinct advantages of focus group interviewing, especially comparing with individual interviewing. Other than the advantages of being inexpensive, data rich, flexible, stimulating to respondents, recall aiding, and cumulative and elaborative, over and above individual responses (p. 55), what else can be group interviewing or focus group interviewing’s advantages. In other words, what’s the advantage of the group interviewing if otherwise (e.g., individual interviewing) can not get?

4. Putting it our focus group interview assignment, if I have a (rough) research question that how colleague student or young adults use new media and how they feel about those newly emerging media technologies, which interviewing, individual or focus group, would be better? If I do focus group interview, what can I get more?

5. It seems very unique and interesting that during a participant observation, at any point in the process, observers are free to alter the problems and questions they are pursuing as they gain greater knowledge of their subject; and compared with more structured methods, then, observation has the flexibility to yield insight in to new realities or new ways of looking at old realities (Kidder, 1981, as cited in Adler & Adler, p. 89). However, this rigor of participant observation method seems to conflict with one of the ways that enhance the validity of the research, which is using multiple observers or teams. While this may make it possible to cross-check each other’s findings and eliminate inaccurate interpretations, it may also limit the flexibility to yield insight. How can we cope with this issue? If our observation team ends up splitting into two or three focuses or the problems and questions, does it indicate low validity of the research?; or can we write two research papers?

Sungsoo's Questions

Q1. As Adlers and Frey note, the participatory observation and interview become more and more difficult because of the government regulation in the name of right to privacy or protection from harm. I think these kinds of regulations, although I admit the potential danger of experimental and stimulus interview, limit other valuable rights such as the right of knowledge and expression. I read the story about the prison and its life near New York. The report worked as a jailor for two years to write that story. Is it unethical? I would like to have your opinions.

Q2. Many skills of qualitative research including interview and participatory observation look almost same to those of narrative journalism. What is the distinction between qualitative research and narrative journalism?

Q3. Frey’s note on the gendered interview, including the interviewer’s bias and affective features, is interesting. How can we avoid those kinds of error or failure?

Q4. The case study of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Everbach provides very interesting message: changing leader affects the working culture of the company -female leader changes the newspaper company more open, more family-friendly, more consensus-building decision making structure. In my opinion, open, family-friendly, consensus building structure is the aims of all companies which want to make their organization more efficient and productive. Can these virtues be the only feature of the company leaded by female leader? Does it come from only female leader?

Q5. Observations and interviews are largely affected by researcher’s bias; to some extent, it is unavoidable. Then how can we obtain the objectivity? Or don’t we need to be objective?

No, we can´t all just get along

The Adler and Adler piece was a good way to kick things off. I particularly enjoyed their critique of the “detached and sterile view of observation” that we know have and that’s “based in the quantitative observational paradigm” (p. 81)
The piece also raises some good questions: Why does perception impair validity only if I work alone? (p. 87) Isn’t there something like group perception? Don’t all great fiction writers posses “vraisemblance”? (p. 88)
Once again, we ran into the “generalizability” (p. 87) of our findings… I guess that, in order for us to end this debate once and for all, we have to decide if we want to work with an audience or with humans/individuals. I already said it in the other post: quantitative tells us what the audience thinks or does, qualitative gives people back their voice, their individuality. In the end, I guess I’m just “an observational sociologist among number-worshippers” (p. 94) (I loved that!).
The Humphreys ordeal (p. 96) made me think a lot about ethical behavior and research. Although I’m still in the midst of a heated brain-debate, I think that men, or women, that have sex in a public bathroom sort of set themselves up to be… screwed with one way or another, right? The person that chooses to have sex in public, just like the guy that commits suicide on the Internet, is fair game in my book when it comes to research. What is the role of the IRB when it comes to observation?
Last but not least, are we supposed to believe that “subject bias, self-deception, lack of inside and dishonesty” (p. 99) are only present in qualitative research?!
The Flick piece proves two things beyond the shadow of a doubt: observation is an open methodology that we can adapt to all of our research and people usually prefer to conduct research from the comfort of their desk rather than going out there and getting exposed to the “raw real” (p. 227). That last line echoes what Adler and Adler also hinted at: the research about what’s going on out there is now mostly done from behind a desk… why doesn’t that preposterous idea raise doubts about validity?
The Hopf piece was interesting, but I think even the author hinted at the idea that, although we have certain structured ways of doing interviews, as longs as you pay attention to scope, specificity, depth and personal context (p. 205), the interview is a malleable tool that can be changed and adapted in order to answer your specific research questions. Hopf says that the “ability to conduct qualitative interviews is generally viewed as an independent and relatively unproblematic component in the qualifications of social scientists” (p. 207). These makes me think about non-fiction writers and journalists… why are we trying to drag research in journalism so far from this type of research (qualitative) if it so closely resembles what we do in the field?
Everbach was an interesting read. My only problem with the article is that the author seems to put what males and females bring into the field in opposition. I think that women bring that holistic way of doing things on top of bringing whatever men can bring. It was also funny to read that one woman was bummed out because she couldn’t seduce her boss. Should authors keep publishing feminist pieces in which the idea of strong women being bitches and the classic catfight idea are discussed? Why not just forget about all that and move on? In any case, somebody should stand up and defend those poor rich, white, middle-aged men.
Fontana and Frey give a nice overview of the interview and I loved the line: “the fine little mill of the Statistical Ritual” (p. 50). Their definitions and explanations on the different kinds of interviews serve as a guide for folks that don’t have much experience with interviews. What the authors don’t say is that the structured interview is more or less a survey and it closes the door to pursuing new avenues of knowledge that can open up every time you get somebody talking about something.
The reading also brought back a question I had in my Straubhaar class: how long does it take for me, researcher, to truly become part of what I’m observing? How much do I need to understand of a certain subculture before I can really get down to what they mean when they answer my questions?
Also, I feel like postmodern interviewing is just another name for open interviews conducted with an open mind. Last but not least, how come gaining trust and establishing rapport don’t raise more “ethical” questions?

Sebastian's questions

  1. Tracy Everbach’s study on the all-female management team of the Sarasota Herald-Tribute (SHT) found that female leaders changed the newsroom culture by bringing their feminine perspective to the workplace and creating an environment of teamwork, consensus, and balance of work and family. Yet, I wonder if she could have concluded otherwise. By studying one newspaper only, she is bound to attribute any particularities in the organizational culture of the SHT to the existence of an all-female leadership. That is, she doesn’t have a benchmark or another all-female run newspaper to which to compare her findings of the SHT. By having clear expectations of what she was going to find and relying on interviews, it was highly likely that her interviewees would agree with her on what changed the newsroom culture. Moreover, the fact that in a content analysis of the SHT (which she published in another article) Everbach didn’t find any substantial differences in terms of news values and gatekeeping compared to male-dominated papers, makes me question the degree to which gender was a really salient aspect for the newsroom.
  2. In Hopf’s overview of qualitative interviews, there’s an explanation of focused interviews and that they were originally conceived as group interviews. We know that individuals behave and communicate differently when interviewed alone or in a group. For instance, some people may perceive that their opinion is not shared by other interviewees and prefer to silence their opinions. Or one may end up with a discussion monopilizer. Fontana and Frey argue that group interviews provide another perspective of the research problem not available through individual interviews. They mention the benefits of being inexpensive, data rich, stimulating, etc. I was wondering, should group interviews be combined with individual interviews? Which research questions are suited for individual interviews and which for group interviews? Do, e.g., reception analyses favor group interviews?
  3. Fontana and Frey delve into the issue of framing interviews and present two schools on how the interviewer should behave: a traditional approach, in which the researchers does not engage in a true conversation, and a more realistic approach, in which the researcher has more leeway to voice personal opinions. I see the benefits of adopting the second approach. However, it may be unrealistic too, because it assumes an equal level of power to set the conversation topics and tone between interviewer and interviewee, when there are many instances in which both are on different levels. It is one thing for a PhD student to interview a group of immigrants or people of lower SES on how they watch TV than to interview a group of business executives and scientists. So, power relationships should be an element that needs to be incorporated when deciding which type of interview to conduct.
  4. In the Adlers’ description of observational techniques, there’s a discussion on the issues of validity and reliability. It’s ironic to me that these concepts, which are part of the quantitative holy trinity (the third being empiricism), are also important issues for a qualitative approach to observation. The authors suggest that one way of increasing the validity and reliability of one’s observations is by having several observers, studying the same group at different times and over varying conditions. But if we take this advice literally, the task of observation becomes more expensive, time-consuming and complicated. At that point, it’s not a case study anymore, it’s a type of survey, which leads me to the following question: can studies based solely on naturalistic observations stand on their own feet, or they necessarily need to be matched with other methods?
  5. On a minor note, I’m wondering how to apply in a communication setting the Adlers’ description of what is it that ethnomethodologists try to do. I had to re-read Potter’s desription of ethnomethodology but still couldn’t figure out why, how and for what purpose such a technique would be helpful for communication scholars. I’d like to read examples of work using this method.

Alex Questions - Sept. 28

Q1 – Adler in his description of Humphrey’s Tearoom Trade was explaining his role as a covert observer-as-participant. It seems as if Humphrey’s crossed some lines in his research of “deviant” behavior in terms of homosexual acts in public restrooms. Didn’t he as “watch queen” in fact act as an enabler? Doesn’t this type of research raise many ethical issues beyond the so-called “deviant” behavior?

Q2 – Is the Tracy Everbach article typical of such qualitative papers? I ask because after the literature review, I was expecting to see hypotheses… or at least expectations. (Based on what we know from the literature, we expect to find this…) I say this because it seems like she had expectations from the literature and then the “study” supported those expectations.

Q3 – It’s probably obvious that I don’t read a lot of qualitative papers, but again back to Everbach. I enjoyed the article. In fact, I found it an entertaining read. Still, the “results” just reeked of “bias” to me. And as a longtime journalist myself, I personally agree with much of her findings. But her results seemed to me to be a personal essay filled with anecdotes to support her point of view where she tossed in a minor criticism or two from the “other” side. Again I ask, is this typical of a lot of qualitative papers?

Q4 – Given my point of question 3 above, I was pleased to read about “deconstruction” in the Fontana & Frey, (1998) chapter. But it seemed to me to be little beyond a mere mention. Can you expand this concept?

Q5 - As a long time journalist, I feel extremely confident in my interviewing abilities, including an ability to be situationally flexible. I would think this gives me an advantage in conduction interviews with qualitative research. After all, the goal is the same -- get to the truth. Am I setting myself up for a false sense of security, or is it true that journalists make good qualitative journalists?

Sung Woo-Questions

In Everbach study, I don’t see the connection between the change in newsroom and feminine culture.

->Everbach’s study demonstrated many characteristics of qualitative study that were questionable to me. First of all, I don’t see the connection between feminine culture and the change of Herald Tribune, not in this article.
Qualitative studies make the case out of a specific case, based on a subjective analysis. I don’t have trouble with that. But if you want to connect it to a larger concept like historical background, ethnicity, cultural construct, or gender, I think you need to have some kind of loop, or a lasso that relates the two; the specific and the universality, or generalization. How do you induce a big conclusion from a specific interview? To me, qualitative studies jump to generalization.
Everbach’s study consists of three propositions, a syllogism.
①The news room of Saratosa Herald Tribune has changed.
②The new leadership brought the change.
③ The feminine culture drove the new leadership to change.
①, ② is well described in the article. But ③?
Should we just assume because the editors are females? The statement like “the managers brought their experimental as women to the newsroom culture” is not supported by this study. Or is it that I failed to see it?

Other practical questions about Everbach's article.

- Is three weeks of observation in 9 months a typical period?
- How do you attribute interviews? In Everbach’s article, she made bold statements like “these are characteristics of feminine management style” and attribute it to “see Weaver’s interview”, but we cannot see it.
- Shouldn’t the companion study of content analysis have been one study?

When you do an observation, how much do you have to know about the settings?

Yonghwan and I are doing an observation on second –life teaching class, for example. How much do we have to know about the second life? It seems to me that the more you know, the better your research gets. But according to Adler & Adler you really don’t have to. So I’m confused. Can one freely choose one option among being a complete participant, participant-as-observer, observer-as-participant, or complete observer?

An observer, isn’t it good to be free?

May be observation can rarely be a primary research method (Adler and Adler, 105). But I think it has a strong point of being free. It could be a very good exploratory method to do before you are restrained by rigorous logic of causality, or bound by financial limitations. So I felt, when I set in the second life teaching skill class, disguised as a professor-to-be who came for a pedagogical purpose. As I observed other participants comfortably, I could narrow down the research question I had.

Yu kun's questions

Questions about variants of qualitative interviews

In Hopf’s “Qualitative Interviews: An Overview”, (204). He listed different types of interviews , give them definitions. Though I don’t have any experience to conduct interview people for research goals. But, based on my experience to be a journalist, I think it is very dangerous to strict ourselves in one particular way to interview people. Combination of different ways to interview people is the most successful way to find the truth. But I am not sure if I can take this thinking in academia.

How to deal with the relationships with the interviewees

In Flick,“Field Observation and Ethnography,” (223). He listed several topics to be discussed in pervious literatures. I am interested in first two topic : How to build up relationships of trust and How to shape one’s role in the field. For me, those skills are hard to learn from books. Therefore, I want to know more about that. In addition, how to keep my objectivity is also a challenge. If I maintain closed relationships with interviewees, I don’t know if I will lose my subjectivity.

Criticisms of Observation

Adler and Adler, proposed two problems in “Observation Techniques,”(p 87-88): validity and reliability. But these two issues are also criticisms of qualitative researches. We can distinguish the qualitative methods with quantitative methods by these two characteristics. In my opinion, if we pay too much attention on these two issues, we will lose some characteristics of qualitative methods.

Questions about ethnomethodology

Adler and Adler (99), “ ethnomethodologists are concerned with how people accomplish their everyday life.” For this issue, I am still concerned about the objectivity of a researcher. How to keep a suitable relationship with the subject is still a question for me.

Questions about formal sociology and new Iowa school

Adler and Adler (91), does it mean that those scholars were affected by science-orientation tradition and tried to improve the validity and reliability of this methods? Does it mean that this qualitative should give up some of its characteristics?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Paul's Questions for 9/28

1) I like the idea of an insider’s perspective when conducting observational research. In fact, for our project, that’s exactly what I’ve done. My observation of a high school football game put me in a setting in which I routinely belong. But while my presence is routine, I believe other participants may be more fully involved, such as coaches, band directors, players, etc. As a band parent, I’m trying to determine if I fall under the “active membership role” or “complete membership role,” detailed on Page 85 of our first reading this week. At first I thought it was the latter, but now I’m not so sure. Which is it?

2) In the Denzin and Lincoln reading where they discuss studies of the public realm, Cahill’s (1987) role in observation is described as a process where the team “continually reorganized and reviewed [their] field notes in order to discover common patterns, uncover general themes, and evaluate emerging hypotheses.” With that in mind, I wonder how narrow or broad of a focus one should have before initiating an observation in the public realm?

3) Ellis’ auto-observation approach, according to Denzin and Lincoln, offers a great way to get at core meanings and experiences, and complements more formal observational concerns that emphasize structure over content. But I’m also concerned about the ethics of auto-observation. Let’s say that I’m describing my work environment, and keep the names of others out of the report, yet describe their tasks and/or roles. With only a little digging on the part of the reader, don’t I run the risk of identifying them because it’s clear that they work with me? This is briefly addressed later in the reading, but not clearly enough for me.

4) In terms of the flexible research strategy discussed in our second reading on page 226-227, observing over an extended period is only possible if the ethnographer adapts to situational circumstances through the “art of fieldwork” as described by Wolcott in 1995. Various methods are described here and elsewhere in the reading, but what about the tools needed in certain situations? Should the effective ethnographer always carry a recorder or camera with him, for instance, to capture an unplanned or unexpected moment, which may not replicate itself? Or even when flexibility is embraced, should it be accomplished without these tools? Should you simply take in the moment, and then summarize it in writing later? And how much later is too late?

5) Meaning-creation and the author’s subjectivity when writing and reporting ethnographic findings is an aspect of our reading that I can relate to based on the observation Alex and I undertook at a high school football game. As I told him, I already had a preconceived notion about how various groups act in such situations. My concern is that I was looking for what I already expected, and therefore missed other group nuances. Was what I observed truly representative of what was going on? How much of my past opinion must I describe in the reporting of this recent encounter? Clearly, having at least two people involved in the observation will help validate similar findings, and perhaps discount those that I simply “saw” based on my past experiences, right?

Participant observation idea

Every Tuesday evening, 7:30pm, at the tennis courts of Patterson Park, across from the Blondie Pharr Tennis Center at Airport Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd, a group of the Barony of Bryn Gwlad, the Austin branch of the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA), meets to practice medieval fighting.

Yes, they are crazy people: they conduct activities such as "baronial announcements" and "adult armored combats". There’s lots of socializing and people wondering around in medieval/renaissance clothing. I'm sure that studying such a group would make for an interesting, to say the least, experience. Remember, these are people who think they are living in medieval Europe!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Teresa's questions

In the chapter about observation techniques, the authors describe observations with different degrees of participation (e.g., complete participant, participant-as-observer, observer-as-participant, and complete observer). In what factors should we think about when choosing the degree of participation in an observation?

Adler and Adler assert that the complete participant and auto-observation offer the advantage of great depth and insight. However, I wonder if you’re subject of your own observation, how can you analyze culture and norms that are taken for granted and become natural for you? How can we draw conclusions and generalizations?

Ethical issues in participant observations and interviews are similar to journalistic ethical dilemmas. They include disguising identity, denouncing crimes when investigating, etc. Should we apply the same or similar ethical norms in an academic investigation that in a journalistic report? Why or why not?

Ethnographies are supposed to be immersions for a long period of time. In this sense, although Everbach’s study is really good, it seems to be more a collection of interviews in a three-week period than a participant observation. Why should we call it a participant observation?

Finally, the journalists who worked at the Sarasota Herald Tribune clearly knew the purpose of Everbach’s study. Furthermore, they knew that this all-women led newspaper was an anomaly; they called it “amazonia.” Therefore, to what extent the researcher obtained the answers she wanted to get? In other words, should the researcher or interviewer give details or clearly say the purpose of the study beforehand?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A 'pitch' for Sunday baseball

Hi all!

So far, no takers on the Friday football observation, so I also wanted to "throw" out there my other option of observing a children's baseball game this Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. We could observe until 4 p.m., and discuss right after that at the concession stand area. The snowcones will be on me. If you're interested in either the Friday football or the Sunday baseball this weekend, just let me know!

Paul Brown

Monday, September 21, 2009

Football observation this Friday?

If one or two of you are interested in observing this Friday evening's high school football game, let me know. You can email me at or just call me on my cell, 680-9447. We could meet around 6:30 p.m. Friday -- I'd be happy to pick you up if you're around campus, or just meet me at the ACC parking garage on 12th Street between Rio Grande and South Lamar. I'll provide the tickets to the game, you provide the popcorn. After halftime, around 8:45 p.m., we can walk over to the Tavern near the stadium to discuss our findings.

Paul Brown

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Teresa's questions

  1. Potter’s book asserts that synonyms associated with qualitative research are the following: interpretation, ethnography, humanism, postpositivism, cultural studies, feminism among others. Then, when he describes different qualitative methodologies, he also names ethnography, reception studies, and cultural studies. I think this is confusing and he mixes what according to me are different concepts. I may be wrong but for me cultural studies, critical studies, feminism are theoretical approaches while ethnography and reception studies are different qualitative methods. Although I understand they are related, there are not the same thing or cannot be described as synonyms. I agree that most investigations guided by critical or cultural theories use qualitative methods, although it is not a necessary link. For example, although the most obvious way to investigate hegemony is using qualitative tools, I also think it is possible to do it through a quantitative analysis.
  2. In a similar vein, I wonder whether there are different qualitative methodologies of data gathering (i.e., ethnography, interviews, reception studies) while others are methods of data analysis (i.e., textual or semiotic analysis). For example, the interviews’ texts or field notes have to be textually analyzed. If I think about the quantitative approach, a survey or an experiment is a method of data gathering while there are different statistical tools to analyze that data. Therefore, although these qualitative methods are often put together, I wonder whether they represent different steps.
  3. After reading the article on triangulation, I am not clear on one thing: Does triangulation seek to answer the same question with different methods? Or it also seeks to answer different research questions with different methods. If the latter is true, the researcher would be looking at the each issue (i.e., RQ) from different perspectives (i.e., each method). Therefore, what he/she would be triangulating?
  4. In the article on triangulation there is an assertion that I would like to discuss. The author says that triangulation is a strategy leading to a deeper understanding and less toward validity of interpretation. Validity is to make sure you’re studying what you’re supposed to be studying and not something else. Therefore, wouldn’t we conclude that through a deeper understanding we make sure we are studying or seeing what we are really seeing? In the end, aren’t both concepts seeking the same goal?
  5. Toulmin, who advocates convergence between idealism and realism, asserts that scholars draw from other scholars, so their interpretation conform to those of the community and are not purely personal. Although I tend to agree with his/her view, I wonder to what extent this position prevents novel ideas because they usually don’t get accepted or conform to those in the community in the beginning.

Sungsoo's Questions

Q1.Potter’s suggestion of three-dimension classification of qualitative approach, axiomatic, methodology, and method, helps to catch the broad and often confusing definition of ‘qualitative.’ However I cannot help having the impression that he draws the line in arbitrary.

Q2. Are there any other qualitative methodologies? Since Potter’s book published in 1996, I hope that we must have some newly developed qualitative methodologies.

Q3. Potter’s idea of ‘template’ (Potter, p25) is very interesting, then, how can we describe the template of the quantitative approach?

Q4. Pauwels provides insightful guidance of the Internet research, especially to those of cultural studies. His proposal of hybrid media analysis definitely elucidates many aspects of Internet research which have extremely complexity. I like to know some researches which combine the cultural studies and linguistic analysis to examine the Internet usage.
Q5. Belton’s ‘Face at the window’ study’ shows that there are competitive methods of qualitative research dealing with the media effects on the audience or media users. However quantitative researcher may well react like this: We can add the variables of the relationship between children and his parent to the relationship between violent TV program watching hours and violent behavior or violent story telling. What will be the difference between her research and other researches based on quantitative methods?

Sung Woo- questions

1. Can Triangulation enhance the reliability of qualitative research studies?
-I am curious about Triangulation as a research strategy, because I think it deals with the problems I had with qualitative approach. One of the problem of being qualitative is, I think, reliability. We discussed last week that the result of a qualitative research could be unique to the researcher. How could you tell this uniqueness is not a bias or an academic defect of the author? So Flick mentioned utility of Triangulation as a way of validation. But he did not mention to what extent, to what effect. I am eager to know.
2. In Triangulation, how can we combine the result of different theory application, data or investigators as something of one study?
-I imagine that we can try Triangulation in our group assignment #1 since we participate as different investigators. But I cannot think of a way we can combine different results as that of one study. The readings did not mention this. Systemizing and describing how to Triangulate would add another chapter of a long methodological quest?
3. Boundaries are so blur among methodologies that it is really hard to discriminate?
-Potter said differences among seven methodologies are not so great. At the same time he said they are not interchangeable (65-67). This confuses me a lot because I could see there is a huge overlap between methodologies.
4. How do you find the loop to connect a specific person, institution or text to a historical, cultural background?
-In quantitative research his may be done with sampling, testing external validity. When you do qualitative research, you tend to analyze specific case, with the unique result depending upon a specific researcher. How can you argue that the historical background is crystallized in that result?
5. Which is a good cat? A white cat? A black cat? Or the one that catches mice?
-Having read the Chapter 1 of Potter, and being more confused about the definition of qualitative, I think we should approach the matter of quanti- and quali- in a more utilitarian way. I assume the debate over methodology is a vernacular phenomenon in academia. Definitions based on the dichotomy of quali- and quanti- is reductionist, I think. The two approaches do not have to be mutually exclusive in a specific way. I found definition of Strauss and Corbin (p.7, p.11) especially troublesome. “Any kind that is not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification?” I think that is misleading.

Triangulation nonsense

Let me begin by saying that Flick is crazy: who has ever heard of more than one researcher working on a qualitative paper at the same time? The idea is preposterous and I’m sure that brilliant reviewers will not let any of this more-than-one-researcher nonsense get published.
Now that that has been cleared up, I think the article was a nice little exposé of triangulation, what it means and how we should use it. My only question would be: how do we go about writing about triangulation in our research? Do only qualitative journals accept it as valid?
I think Pauwels brings up a very interesting discussion with the “virtual” versus “real” worlds. What he fails to mention is that, in many cases, people tend to like the virtual better because they can be whoever they want to be (due to the lack of face-to-face interaction: “identitiy play” on p.608) and they can completely avoid what he calls “potentially threatening forms of feedback” (p. 605). Baudrillard, for example, spoke of the virtual world as the same as giving each users its own vessel, which he can use to travel wherever he goes without having any physical contact with anything and anyone.
Representativity is another huge issue. The research we read is usually focused on Internet users and, I believe, that helps us forget that there are many non-users out there. Dr. Straubhaar conducted some research on this area last year and, if I remember correctly, 25% of the first-generation immigrants hadn’t even HEARD of the Internet.
The critique that Internet research is “still largely confined to textual data” (p. 607) has a lot to do with what we talked about in the last class: it’s easier. The call that the author makes to bring in more ethnography into Internet research instead of just looking at the pages themselves is brilliant. We are trying to study new phenomena using the same textual analysis that scholars have always used to analyze books. Isn’t the Internet more a way of life, a way of doing things and participating rather than a mass-media device? Shouldn’t we stop thinking about an online world and a real world and start thinking that we live, and do research, in the area where they meet and the “borders” become invisible?
The Belton piece was very interesting (I loved the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” deal on p. 634). Besides the fact that Mel was messed up in the head, the piece made me think that we think way too much about what TV is doing to our kids. That’s not to say that we should stop researching, but after reading the article and going over Cultivation Theory and mean world syndrome in my head I couldn’t help thinking that, if we take away the images (which are VERY powerful), TV is not much worse than “children’s stories” that are full of evil witches, bad wolves, cruel stepsisters, monsters and ghosts.
If the piece proves anything, it’s that children can watch all the TV in the world…but their level of m essed-upness is directly related to their real, everyday life (i.e. family, friends, school, etc.). That’s what the author calls “incorporation of personal experience” (p. 639). If they’re using the images from TV to express their own feelings, does it really matter if the images are bad if everything else they’re surrounded by is good?
I apologize for this question: isn’t quantitative research also guilty of completely ignoring human individuality (p. 641)?

Alex Questions

Q1 – Potter begins essentially by describing how qualitative research is defined by however the researcher decides to define it, noting the lack of consensus and even differing use of terms. Today, is qualitative research still seen as pretty much anything that is not numbers driven research?

Q2 – Potter talks about the rise of empericism. If one accepts empirical as meaning something that can be measured, doesn’t that lend itself to quantitative methods? (Seems like a misnomer…)

Q3 – Potter’s introduction is full of philosophical and ideological camps – constructionists v. realists; idealists v. materialists; ontological v. epistemological; etc… - do most qualitative researchers today find they must subscribe to such camps, or be accepted by their philosophical peers within these points of view?

Q4 – Flick describes how triangulation can mean many things, from triangulation of data, to researchers, to research methods. Does the idea of “more is better” ever come into play? As in triangulate as many research elements as possible in order to get better research? (I can see this is almost being chaotic, actually.)

Q5 – Pauwels raises an important issue of conducting qualitative research in a digital media environment and multi-media environments in general. Does a combination (triangulation) of methods seem to be the preferred way of approaching online media research today?

Yonghwan's Questions

1. It was interesting to know there are a number of scholars who are reluctant to provide a definition of qualitative research. I could understand what they intent for in that qualitative research and method are very flexible and intersubjective; they don’t want to limit its flexible boundaries and mislead the readers. And I also agree that “this is of very little comfort to students and other scholars trying to understand it” because I don’t want to wander through the literature aimlessly (we may see definitions for qualitative research p. 7 are still helpful for us). Thus the thing is that would resisting making a definition be helpful in growing the field of qualitative research? If it would, how?

2. Continued to this issue, has anyone thought about research questions that would not be solved with existing qualitative method? Are these kinds of issues (i.e., resisting a simple definition of qualitative method and research questions which is sort of hard to answer with existing qualitative methods) related to emergence of Triangulation?

3. Triangulation is used to refer to the observation of the research issue from two different points (Flick, p. 178). In the section of criticisms of triangulation, it is stated that “triangulation is now seen less as a validation strategy within qualitative research and more as a strategy for justifying and underpinning knowledge by gaining additional knowledge (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994, p, 5; cf. Flick, 1992).” What’s the point of differentiating a validation strategy from a strategy for justifying and underpinning knowledge?

4. It is interesting to see that while much of the quantitative approach follows the traditions of humanism, there is also a sizable scholarly community of qualitative researchers who consider themselves as following the traditions of science more so than the traditions of humanism (Potter, p. 34). I remember that I had a conversation with my colleagues regarding this topic. One of my senior colleagues, who are qualitative person graduated from UT RTF, mentioned that qualitative research is also science and can be even more scientific than quantitative research. As a qualitative researcher (or at least a student taking qualitative method class), do you think qualitative research is science? If yes, in what sense?

5. It seems important to consider generalization issue in debating whether qualitative research is science or not, which is closely related to theory (building or developing). How can qualitative research make generalization (at least among those who follow the traditions of science)? In addition, in relation to theory building, which one comes first, theory or observation?

Sun Ho's Questions

* In chapter 5, Potter introduced three interrelated facets to mass media research (audiences, texts and institutions) and matched up seven qualitative methodologies with those. Then on page 68, he stated that we "usually focus on one of the facets and choose one methodology as a strategy for examining the facet of interest."

1. But what are some of the exceptions to this? Can we think of any examples of research studies that include more than one facet of interest and/or that involve more than one methodology?

2. Is this something doable within the qualitative approach? If yes, how can we manage to conduct the study without losing the primary focus of the study?

* Pauwels, (2005), “Websites as visuals and multimodal cultural expressions: opportunities and issues of online hybrid media research,” Media, Cultural & Society, 27(4); p. 604-613.

3. When I first read this article, some of the "opportunities and issues" of online hybrid media research discussed here seemed outdated in a way since it is a rapidly evolving research area. But at the same time, I realized that we still need to pay attention to some of the "issues" such as the textual bias or triangulation. What are some of the recent developments on these issues?

4. This article focuses on the interactive features of the web and CMCs as it was written at the time when we didn't see much of the web 2.0 technologies that we see now. But it seems like researchers ourselves tend to face different opportunities and issues when we look at different technological features of the digital media. What are some of the latest opportunities and issues we see from online media research now, especially when it comes to qualitative approach?

* Belton, (2000), “The ‘face at the window’ study: a fresh approach to media influence and to investigating the influence of television and videos on children’s imagination,” Media, Culture & Society, 22(5); p. 629-643.

5. On page 642, Belton concludes, "future research would benefit from letting go of crude categorizations and from developing methodologies which take on board the individual, everyday, embedded reality of the viewing experience." The author also explained about the paradigm shift in media research "from an experimental and statistical approach towards 'real world' studies of 'ecological validity'" (p 641). The study seems to suggest that we take a more ethnographical stance. But what other qualitative methodologies can we use specifically for mass comm and journalism research?

YUKUN's Questions

The definition of qualitative

In Potter's book, Chapter discussed various definitions including direct definitions and indirect definitions. In my personal opinion, qualitative methods existed long before quantitative methods and lnclude various methods such as ethnography, textual analysis.... It is easier to define quantitative approaches. I support the contrasting-type definitions in chapter. I believe scholars should not focus on how to define qualitative approaches as a whole rather than focus on define individual qualitative methods. For example, what is ethnography? or what is textual analysis?

Three facets in Chapter 5

In chapter 5 Potter propose three facets: the Audience facet, the text facet, the institution facet. I am wondering if any scholar compared qualitative approaches and quantitative approaches in these three facets. Which approach is suitable in the first facet, the second facet or the third facet? In my opinion, qualitative approaches are more suitable in the institution facet. Qualitative approaches can overcome the limits of studying the institution. In this level, the qualitative approach has more advantages than its opponent.

How to build qualitative theories

After done Potter's Pauwels and Flick's articles, I wonder how we could build a qualitative theory. Most characteristics of building theories are not in qualitative approaches: generalize, replicate....... In addition, qualitative approaches always stress unique case. Therefore, those differences really confuse me. Or should we reley on triangulation to build our qualitative theory?

Triangulation between convergence and divergence

At the end of Flick's article, he wrote something about triangulation between convergence and divergence. Does the convergance of triangulation mean it is the one step of qualitative theory building? Besides, how do we deal with the conflicts between different methods? If there is a conflict among triangulation, does it mean a new research question?

Question about Pauwels article.

This article reminded me our discussion in last week. In my opinion, the new media seems open a new window for qualitative research. Especially, new media combines verbal and visual communication. Quantantative researches only focus on the manifest information. It is hard for a scholar to study images only by quantantative methods. Qualitative methods or triangulation are the solutions for this pitfall.