In this assessment, I chose to use a combination of secondary and primary (interviews and a survey) research. This methodological choice had various implication. In interviews participants gave me more in-depth answers, and often explored related tangents; providing additional data. My survey was also beneficial in providing easily analysed statistical data which could visually aid my findings. Furthermore, surveys were conveniently distributed, and quickly completed. Lastly, secondary sources were very beneficial as they provided a good foundation to the claims I made in my report, and added to my report’s integrity. However, there were some negative implications of this methodological choice. Despite interviews averaging 30-40 minutes, my participants always seemed to want to discuss more. Thus, they rushed their concluding thoughts. On the contrary, some participants became nervous (despite attempts to make them comfortable with lollies and not using a laptop), and were unsure how to respond. The survey’s main negative implication was its restriction of the diversity in my participants’ responses. Additionally, sharing my survey on Twitter meant it could get lost in all the other surveys. If I were to do this assignment again, I would additionally conduct a focus group. I believe this would have diversified responses and encouraged participants voice their opinions more. Throughout this report axiology was constantly considered.
Axiology is the study of value in aesthetics and ethics (Crowe 2017). Various moral/ethical values guided my research. For example, I gave my participants information sheets to ensure they were informed on my research topic, how I would be using their information, and consented to my use of their data. This ensured ethical validity as it confirmed my participants knew what they were consenting to. Axiology was further relevant in my interviews and surveys. Unless the participant requested I do otherwise, they were kept anonymous to respect their privacy. Ethical concerns regarding respect frequently guided my research/writing. When representing my participants, it was crucial I respectfully represented them. This ensured I did not ask bias questions, or represent my participants in a way they would not like. I also viewed my communication updates as an element of ethical research practice, ensuring my participants and stakeholders were informed about my project, and could contact me (in addition to my email and twitter). This topic was also one that I also believe was highly reflexive.
Memes are an integral part of our vernacular (Shifman 2013). Personally, I constantly use memes to communicate information about social issues, depict responses. Thus, I was genuinely curious of their influence on communication of information about social issues. This topic is also reflexive to my participants, as it discusses something so integral to our daily communication. Furthermore, often my participants’ views and opinions influenced my perspectives and my research. This reflexivity was one of the reasons I believed it was important to effectively engage with my participants and stakeholders. Despite participants occasionally becoming nervous in interviews, I believe that I did everything I could to effectively engage with them, such as putting lollies on the table and taking notes in a notebook when they were trying to think (so they weren’t rushed). I believe I also effectively engaged with others in my survey. The information page, the comment section, and how I requested participants’ much-valued input on twitter, all evidenced this. Finally, I engaged with others was through my communication updates. My blog updates were effective in letting others know my progress. These blog updates were then shared on twitter, allowing easier accessibility. I had originally wanted to give fortnightly twitter updates as well. However, this would have been inconsiderate to my participants, as twitter’s character limit meant not enough information could be shared to make the post useful. Thus, this would have inconsiderately wasted my participants’ time, and my own. I have also learned much about my professional/research communication values and how they will inform my practice in the future.
I have learned much about my professional and research communication values. Axiology, for instance, has shown me the need to be morally and ethically responsible/considerate when collecting and representing information. Furthermore, I needed to ensure that I was respecting my participants and the information they had given me. There was also a predominate need for integrity, as I learned the importance of ensuring my information was from a legitimate source which was providing reliable information. Furthermore, this project has given me a great deal of insight. I now have a greater understanding of the aspects which make memes so popular, how memes work, and the various ways in which memes can be used beyond mere entertainment. Furthermore, I am now more able to recognise when memes are being effectively used as a platform for social rhetoric, critique, and protest as they communicate and respond to information about social issues.
- Crowe, NP 2017, ‘Axiology’, Salem Press Encyclopedia, Research Starters, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 June 2017.
- Shifman, L 2013, ‘Memes in a Digital World: Reconciling with a Conceptual Troublemaker’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.18, no.8, pp.362-377