An Interview with Franny

In my mini-focus group, I interviewed Franny Johns, a current student in the BCM210 course to see how she would respond to a variety of questions.
Me: Okay Franny, we’ll start with a little bit of information about yourself, please state your name, course, age and sex.
Franny: Alrighty, well my name is Franny Johns and I’m 19 years old. I’m studying a double degree of Media and communications and International Studies and I’m a female.
Me: What is your level of scientific education?
Franny: I stopped science in year ten
Me: And how informed do you feel about science in today’s society?
Franny: I feel a bit lost when it comes to all the information about science but I try to keep up as well as I can
Me: Do you follow any science related Facebook pages? How much do you interact with them?
Franny: I follow “I f**king love science”, which comes up on my feed sometimes with some pretty interesting articles and videos which are pretty easy to understand even though I don’t study science. There’s also a lot of facebook pictures that come up because friends like different science related posts, although some of them go straight over my head.
Me: Do you think these posts increase your enthusiasm for science?
Franny: I think without them coming up on my feed I wouldn’t have anywhere near as good of an idea about science, I don’t see it much in the news and most of the stuff that comes up is pretty interesting.
Whilst the interview was only a short sample of a full length focus group, it worked as an interesting insight into some of the results we can expect from it. For the focus group we need to phrase the questions in ways that will generate more conversation and discussion within the participants, possibly by making them cross examine both their own and others answers.
We may also benefit from making them compare how much they think they know about science, by giving them a point of reference and contrast about the sheer amount of research out there, and the amount the average college student is aware of, versus the average amount that a professor in an scientific discipline and other such comparisons.
From this we hope to find out how informed media students are with science, and if/why they think this is important.

Advertisements

A textual analysis

This article addresses research released pertaining to the unethical research practises that were conducted without subject’s knowledge by Facebook, thus invading the subject’s privacy. It aims to explain why this was such an unethical practise. The article was written by Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guillory, and Jeffrey T, all of which are scholars capable of disseminating and assessing information.
The audience of this article is the general public with a scholarly or general interest in the subject. However viewers must have a sufficient knowledge of more complex concepts as there is a large amount of complex language and jargon. The information covered affects the social networking site facebook, which most, if not all, viewers have a functioning knowledge of or are actively participating in themselves. This means that the article has close cultural proximity to the viewers, therefore is more likely to generate interest.
The information is presented in a way intended to inform, but not make the decisions for the viewer. It presents the information in an objective manner, which allows the viewer to process and analyse with being subjected to any pre-existing bias from the author.
This paper represents an important and emerging area of social science research that needs to be approached with sensitivity and with vigilance regarding personal privacy issues. As a result there is very little other information available that closely correlates with the data presented in this paper. However it does make reference to previous articles which aim to put into context the ways in which such research has been conducted ethically and unethically in the past.
There is undeniable evidence that Facebook manipulated and monitored users without their express permission or knowledge. This means that the findings in this paper are extremely valid, however the prepositions implied will only be proven with time. This research is useful both as a case-study of unethical practises, but also as a tool to greater utilise social media in the future.
The text is ordered in a chronological and information based order, where research present builds on previous ideas covered in the paper, which follows a rough approximation of chronological order.
The text is written in an extremely academic nature that has a large amount of jargon and high-ordered manner of sentence structure. It is written with a formal tone.
The key value that this article embodies is the importance of a high standard of ethical research practises. Whilst there are some who will argue that the ends justifies the means, in this context the ends was greater financial gain for the company, therefore was in no way ethical.
This text is somewhat unique in its field, therefore there is little to compare it to. However it does follow the same inference of the importance of responsible research techniques that operate under universal guidelines.

The Ethics of Acting Ethically.

‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’- Hamlet William Shakespeare

To consider ethics in media research, one would first search for what is and isn’t ethical. Therein lays the beginning of a complicated process of acting under the fluid definition of ethics. Ethics are defined by Tinkler as “widely agreed moral principles about what is right and wrong” (Tinkler 2013). These “ethical practises” are decided upon by ethics committees, funders and the institutions in which the researchers are conducting their study (Tinkler 2013). It is these fluid definitions behind which humanity is protected. Ethics were designed so that basic human rights and dignities would not be ignored in the quest for knowledge, but would rather guide the search.
However there is no overall governing body for these practises, and ethical standards from one institution or study to another can vary greatly. It is generally agreed upon that the ethical gathering of data will adhere to these rules: all test subject must voluntarily participate, no harm will come to them- either physically or emotionally- and that all results will maintain anonymity and confidentiality of the participants.
This then throws up another barrier for researchers: how will these unavoidable frameworks effect the collection of data?
Is it enough to ensure an accurate selection a variety of humans, including a diversity of nationalities, ages, genders, life experiences and socio-economic status?
Or are we missing an undefined sub-set of personality types; that is people who wouldn’t volunteer for a social research projects?
Even if the research information is gathered under ethical standards, this does not ensure that the final result will be ethical. Data processing must also be conducted in a non-bias, objective way that protects the welfare of the research participants by displaying high levels of honesty and integrity, free from plagiarism (Weerakkody, 2008). This too brings up many questions about what is and isn’t ethical. Researchers are often plagued by concerns that their research may tote on the borderline between moral and immoral, while in the past other researchers have abused this grey area in order to sway the findings of a paper.
In this betrayal of the trust we have in the overarching protection of ethics, we also become less likely to trust other, possibly completely legitimate papers. When unprincipled research is discovered, institutes may have to review hundreds of papers to check for maintenance of ethical practises, other legitimate research that has extrapolated data from falsified papers will have to be rectified and the general public may become less likely to believe future papers after a scandal of mishandled information is revealed. As there are no formal laws in Australia that can hold researchers to ethical practises, we can only rely on the integrity of the researchers, and failing that, the fear of repercussion from their institute, future sponsors and their peers.
Ethical practises are all that stands between the sake of humanity and the pursuit of knowledge or recognition. It is under the guidelines of ethical practises that research flourishes, in a way that is beneficial to all humankind.

References

Tinkler, Penny 2013, ‘Ethical issues and legalities’, in Using photographs in social and historical research, SAGE, London, pp. 195-208

Weerakkody, Niranjala Damayanthi 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, in Research methods for media and communications, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, South Melbourne, Vic., pp. 73-91