Tuesday 19 January 2016

RPG Research

I am conducting research into the audience, market, and production of a new RPG game based in the Harry Potter universe. Through my research, I am planning to answer these 15 questions:

Audience Research
Form of Research
Who is my target audience?
Internet research (comparing fans of similar games and HP products), questionnaires.
Comparing the fans other products using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter will enable me to get a rough estimate of the size of my playe rbase. Questionnaires will enable me to directly ask who in the audience would be interested in the game.
What do they want from the game?
Directly asking the audience what they want from the game will give me straight answers that I can compare and evaluate to make the best decisions about what to include in my game.
How do they feel about other RPG games?
Questionnaires, popularity/sales/reviews of other RPG games.
Asking the audience what they liked/didn’t like about other RPG games will tell me what sort of gameplay and features I should and shouldn’t include in my own game. Comparing the popularity/sales/reviews of other RPG games will also enable me to see what is most popular, and will also tell me my competition.
What platform do they play video games on?
The platform on which gamers play games on is very important when deciding where and how I am going to distribute my game, and the easiest way to gather this information is via a questionnaire.
How do they feel about Harry Potter, and do they think that the universe would make a good setting for an RPG?
The target audience for the game is fans of Harry Potter and RPG games, though some fans of Harry Potter may have never played this sort of game before. Finding out what they like about the Harry Potter universe can enable me to include what they would like in my game so that I can attract non-gamers.
Market Research
Form of Research
Are there any similar products already on the market?
Internet research, content analysis.
Analysing similar products (other RPG games) can give me an insight to their codes and conventions and help me work out what I can do to make my game stand out. Internet research can also give me an insight into who is my competition.
What is the best price and distribution method for my product?
Questionnaire, internet, considering previous research.
This will allow me to ask the audience directly how much they are willing to pay for an RPG game and what platform they would rather play it on (this question will have already been asked as part of my audience research). Knowing what platform my audience prefers will enable me to make an informed choice of distribution methods.
What is the best way to advertise my product?
Content analysis of other products’ advertising campaigns.
Analysing other products’ advertising campaigns will enable me to see what works and what doesn’t work, and what I can do to make my product stand out.
Is there a gap in the market for my product to fill?
Internet research.
The internet is a good place for me to find out information about other products. My previous research should also help me to see whether there is a gap in the market for my game.
What current trends are affecting the market?
Internet research.
Internet research will enable me to see what games are most popular at the moment, what is getting the most recognition and awards, and will enable me to see whether it is the right time for a new Harry Potter game to be released.
Production Research
Form of research
What content will be in the product?
Questionnaire, content analysis
A questionnaire will allow me to directly ask the audience what they want to get out of a game, and content analysis will help me understand what codes and conventions are popular in other RPG games that I could transfer to my Harry Potter universe game.
How much will the production cost?
Internet research to work out the budget.
Could look at similar products to find out what their budgets were, but overall I will be working out the budget myself.
How can I demonstrate the USP?
Internet research looking at what other products are doing.
Internet is a good source of information and inspiration. I could look at the USPs of previous games set in the Harry Potter universe and what other RPG games are doing.
How long will it take to produce?
Internet, planning, observation.
It is important for me to consider the length of time that this project will take so that I can choose the best time to begin the advertising campaign.
What is the competition doing that works?
Internet research, content analysis
Using internet research to look at what similar products have done will enable me to get a large overview of who my competition is and what they are doing to be successful.

For my primary research, I created a questionnaire and asked twenty people from my target audience (fans of Harry Potter and/or RPG games) to answer it. To do this, I shared it on a forum for RPG fans (reddit.com/r/rpg_gamers). This ensured that I received valid responses as the questions were aimed primarily at finding out what it was about current RPG games that already existing RPG fans liked so much, and helped me gather qualitative and quantitative research data.

I gathered the quantitative data in an excel document and created bar charts to make it easier to compare the data. According to this data, the primary age group that I should be aiming at is people aged 18-22 as this is the main age range that has answered my questionnaire. However, the issue with this is that as I only asked people on an RPG fans forum, the pool of responses was quite thin anyway. If I was to repeat this research, I would widen my options for results, which would give me a more accurate understanding of who my target audience is. The results I have at the moment only indicate the age range of the people that use the forums, and while this does help to give some indication of the age range of my target audience (as well as confirms my own expectations), it does not take into account the fact that there are probably many other potential fans of the game who are not searching the forum. There is little difference between the genders, which supports a previous study that tells us that there is a fairly even distribution of male and female Harry Potter fans (54% female and 46% male)[1]. This means that I should ensure that the game is not aimed primarily at one gender as this could reduce sales. The majority of people said that they prefer the Harry Potter books to anything else - and very few people said that they preferred the video games. This suggests that there is both a gap in the market for my game, but also that I may have to work hard to please my audience. The reason the films were less popular is due to the fact that they do not follow the books as well as the audience would have liked, and with the video games primarily following the films, this led to them also being fairly unpopular, particularly later on in the series. Therefore it may be an idea to try to stay true to the books (without following the same storyline, of course). This involves following the descriptions of locations and any original characters that may feature in the game, and a storyline filled with a mixture of character and action-driven narrative. At the same time, the game should feel immersive like a film, with interesting, smooth cut scenes that the audience can react to with emotions. However, video games can go beyond this, as they actually pit the player against the threat in the game - the player isn't just watching the action roll out, they are deciding what happens. According to Media Magazine, this factor has helped video games overtake films in the "storytelling stakes, but also in atmosphere and immersion." [2]
My target audience is a group of people that play video games very frequently, every day in most cases. To keep this audience interested in my game, it should be extremely engaging, from the storyline to the gameplay, and must heavily feature elements of the Harry Potter universe to keep the fans' attention. Most people also said that they prefer to play games on PC, though PS4 and Xbox One were second and third most popular. This tells me that I should aim to get my game released on PC primarily, however a console release would help sales and boost my audience. The majority of my audience felt that £20.01-£30 was a suitable price for an RPG game with as much content as I plan to input in my game. The most recent games in The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls series both sell for £50, but The Elder Scrolls Online was also originally released with a monthly subscription price. The Elder Scrolls Online, however, was considerably unpopular in comparison to previous Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim due to its 'hollowness' and lack of customisation[3].

When asking what my target audience's favourite RPG is, most people answered that the series The Elder Scrolls was their favourite, with Fallout and The Witcher coming close second and third. The Witcher and The Elder Scrolls have fairly similar fantasy settings, with The Elder Scrolls having full character customisation, and slightly different settings in each game. The Witcher, however, features the same setting and same character throughout, allowing the audience less customisation. I asked the audience to explain what their favourite feature was in their favourite RPG (which provided me with qualitative data), and a large majority of people said that they liked the character customisation in The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and others said that they loved the fantasy setting of The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher. The ability to use magic was also a popular feature, which tells me that this audience would love a full-character customisation Harry Potter RPG set at Hogwarts. A huge majority of the audience claimed that they value the storyline of the game most, saying that this is what attracts them to the game and keeps their interest. There was also a few responses that said that they prefer an interesting setting and side quests to keep them playing the game. I think that a Harry Potter universe RPG offers me endless opportunities for a gripping storyline, as well as an enticing setting, that differs from the usual fantasy/sci-fi/wasteland setting that is common in recent RPGs. Whilst Harry Potter does have a fantasy setting, the game will be featured at the wizard school Hogwarts, and will follow the same lore from the original Harry Potter books, which has not been seen before in another RPG game. This, again, helps to fill a gap in the market.

Overall, from my questionnaire, I have been able to gather a good grasp of exactly what my target audience would like to see in the game. Their answers about their current favourite RPG games suggests that the Harry Potter universe would be a setting they find interesting due to its similarities to other fantasy games, while also having it's own lore and enticing setting (a wizard school). Most of the responses agreed that the opportunity to create their own character and control them in Hogwarts would be a lot of fun, as long as the storyline takes off into something beyond just simulating school life. I think that with the size of the Harry Potter universe, this would be easy to pull off. A school setting also provides me with lots of opportunities for side quests, something that has actually already been implemented in previous (although less popular) Harry Potter games, including Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. These common conventions from RPGs are often what can make or break the game, as an interesting storyline and setting is vital to the audience's enjoyment.

RPGs are an incredibly popular genre of video game, that come in many styles, but most of which revolving around a fantasy setting. There are some exceptions to this rule, namely Bethesda's wasteland world Fallout, and Bioware's sci-fi Mass Effect. Both incredibly popular games, with the recent release of Fallout 4 in November 2014 having "1.2 million PC players on the platform in just one day of availability."[4] The upcoming Mass Effect game, Andromeda trailer has racked up over 5 million views on YouTube since its release in June 2015, and gained great levels of hype from the game's presentation at E3 2015, despite the developers giving only small hints about the premise of the game. It is undeniable, however, that fantasy settings dominate the RPG genre. This is proven by the 5.5 million World of Warcraft subscriptions[5], the ratings of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (including six 9/10s and two 5 stars) and the on-going success of the Final Fantasy series from its first release in 1987 to its latest release in 2010. The majority of these fantasy games feature magical elements, and enable players to choose between taking a magical route or sticking to more traditional styles of battle, such as swords or archery. In my game, the player would be restricted to using magic for battle, which stays in line with the lore of the wizard world of Harry Potter. However, like The Elder Scrolls and World of Warcraft, players will have completely control over the customisation of their characters; what they look like, what skills they possess, and what they excel best at. Despite multiple Harry Potter games (one for each film, and spin offs like Quidditch World Cup and Lego Harry Potter), there has never been an RPG that focuses on a whole new character, which immediately gives me a gap in the market to fill. According to my questionnaire, my target audience was also not very impressed with the previous Harry Potter games, meaning that these games do not pose much competition to my work. However, the RPGs previously mentioned pose a strong threat to my success. It is important that I emphasise my unique selling point (primarily the Harry Potter universe) in the marketing of my game.

A huge trend that is growing within the gaming industry is the introduction of virtual reality. With the development of headsets like the Oculus Rift, VR is soon to be a huge player within the industry, and whether or not a game supports VR could affect its sales. Therefore, it is potentially a good idea to invest in developing the game to support VR. There is a large development community already developing, including mainstream publishers like Ubisoft. Developer Ian Baverstock said, "From an investment point of view, oh my God, virtual reality is the place you want to be."[6]. Virtual reality for an open world, RPG Harry Potter game could become extremely popular, seeing as the Harry Potter world is a fictional world that thousands of people worldwide long to be real. Therefore, the high levels of immersion that can be achieved with VR could be a huge selling point for the audience.


Overall, I believe that a Harry Potter universe RPG would be extremely successful and my research has been very useful in coming to this conclusion. I believe that the setting, combined with an engaging storyline (the two most important conventions of an RPG, according to my questionnaire), would keep the target audience interested in my game. The majority of my research was conducted through my questionnaire, however my internet research has also been valuable in enabling me to find other, similar RPGs and compare them against each other, the feedback I have received from my audience, and my own ideas for my game.
Through the questionnaire, I have learnt what demographic my target audience is, what media form they preferred the Harry Potter series in, what platform they prefer to play video games on, their favourite RPG and why, and what they consider to be important in an RPG. This information, I believe, is very important to consider when planning my own RPG. The fact that the majority of the audience prefers the books suggests that they are very well-read and understand the universe of Harry Potter more than say, a casual fan whom has only seen the films. This, combined with the knowledge that most people valued storyline in RPGs tells me that the story for my game must be engaging and exciting in order to be successful. Knowing the rough demographic of my audience (age/gender) also helps me understand exactly who I should be marketing this game to. The slightly older audience enables me to work more freely with darker themes like horror and violence. I should, however, consider the fact that the Harry Potter films never went above a 12 rating, so my game should not exceed a 15 at the most, if necessary. While it is true that the original Harry Potter audience will have grown up by now, this does not mean that younger generations are also becoming fans of the series, much like new generations are still fans of the original Star Wars films. If I isolate this younger audience (as in, 12-15) I may reduce sales.
There are many different styles of RPG, fantasy being the most popular setting, which gives me endless opportunities for inspiration. The already existing Harry Potter video games and films can also give me visual inspiration, while ensuring that my game surpasses the audience's expectations in order to get better ratings than previous Harry Potter games. The conventions I have identified in existing content that I have analysed (settings, characterisation and customisation, fighting styles etc) have been useful in identifying what is popular with the audience so that I can implement these features into my own video game, which will then ideally make it more successful.
The questionnaire was definitely the most effective form of research, however the internet was an invaluable source of secondary information. The internet enabled me to find out information about other video games and trends in the gaming industry that is vital to the success of my own game. It was important, however, for me to ensure that the webpages I used for information were valuable sources, so I made sure to only use news articles and similar, trustworthy sites. User-generated content sites like social networks and Reddit also enabled me to read the discussions between members of my target audience. The internet is an obvious choice for researching a video game audience, due to the fact that naturally, a video game fan would spend a lot of time on the internet. Therefore, other than my questionnaire itself (which was distributed through the internet), the internet was the most invaluable source of information for this project.
If I was to start this project again, some things I would change include the questionnaire. Firstly, I would try to get a larger amount of people to answer it, as twenty does not seem to be enough to give me a good overview of what the target audience wants. The Harry Potter "fandom" is huge, as are the fandoms for various different RPGs, and asking only twenty people limits the answers I could get. I also originally planned to ask audience members who had not played RPGs or had limited experience in playing video games to see what would make them decide to play one. Finally, I would have added a few more questions to the questionnaire, particularly a question to do with what the audience likes most about the Harry Potter world. This is one of the questions I had planned to answer using the questionnaire but overlooked at the time of making it. I did solve this by reading fans' discussions on sites like Tumblr and Reddit, but having the question in the questionnaire would have allowed me to get more direct answers.

[1] Sragow, M (2011) The Secret to 'Harry Potter's' Success. [Online] Available from: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-07-18/entertainment/bs-ae-potter-succcess-20110713_1_deathly-hallows-harry-potter-steve-kloves. [Accessed: 17th January 2015].  

[2] Ewins, M (2012) War of the Worlds: the Convergence of Films and Games. Media Magazine. [Online] Available at: https://www.englishandmedia.co.uk/media-magazine/articles/16862. [Accessed: 19th January 2015]

[3] Herndon, N (2015) The Resounding Whimper of The 'Elder Scrolls Online' Release. [Online] Available from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/archenemy/2015/07/20/the-resounding-whimper-of-the-elder-scrolls-online-release/#2715e4857a0b2fc4c4295ce9. [Accessed: 17th January 2015].

[4] Smith, D (2015) 'Fallout 4' Has Already Made History. [Online] Available from: http://uk.businessinsider.com/fallout-4-breaks-steam-records-2015-11. [Accessed: 18th January 2015].

[5] Statista, (2015) Number of 'World of Warcraft' Subscribers from 1st Quarter 2005 to 3rd quarter 2015 (In Millions). [Online] Available from: http://www.statista.com/statistics/276601/number-of-world-of-warcraft-subscribers-by-quarter/. [Accessed: 18th January 2015]

[6] Stuart, K and Webber, J, E. (2015) 16 Trends That Will Define The Future of Video Games. [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/23/16-trends-that-will-change-the-games-industry. [Accessed: 19th January 2015]

Sunday 18 October 2015

Comparing Research Methods

When someone thinks about research, they usually think about searching for information on the internet. In the 21st century, this is definitely the most common form of research, and rightly so. The internet is a vast source of information ranging from history to technology to literature and beyond. It can be used to access archives of old articles and journals, and even recently published books can be found on the internet, whether they are legal or not. It can be used for both primary and secondary research, as not only can you find information from secondary sources, but you can also post your own questionnaires and post on forums to find out people's opinions about things. For example, a researcher for an upcoming film could spend some time using the internet to learn about the topic the film is about (secondary research), then spend some time asking audiences on the internet whether they would be interested in the film being planned using questionnaires, social media, and forums (primary research). However, the internet does have its disadvantages. Most websites can be edited from anyone anywhere, for example Wikipedia, which can be edited anonymously by any of its users. This means that not all information found on the internet can be trusted, so it is important to check sources for their reliability by seeing if it is from a creditable source, and by checking whether the same information can be found from another source. Despite these drawbacks, the internet remains one of the most effective forms of research, just because of the sheer size of it.

In comparison, libraries and archives were the primary source of secondary research until the internet took over. To this day, libraries and archives are still relevant, it's just that much of the information found in libraries can be found faster on the internet now. The advantages of libraries is that in most cases the information found in books can be considered reliable, especially if you are taking the information from academic journals and archives. However, a researcher may find themselves reading information from a book that is decades old, meaning the information could be fairly outdated. For example, it is unwise for a scriptwriter to research the Egyptians for a historical epic film using a textbook written decades ago, as some of the information may be outdated, so if they want the film to be historically accurate, they should research from recent and up to date information. This does not mean to say that old books and archives should not be used, as they can be useful for learning context behind many things, however information found should always be cross-referenced with another source to ensure its credibility.

For primary research, questionnaires are a very useful tool. They are similar to interviews in that they ask people questions, however the benefit is that they are often anonymous, which in many cases may give the person confidence to be truthful in their answers. However questionnaires can also go the other way, and people may lie about their opinions because they want to give the expected answer. It is important that questionnaires are written in an open, unbiased way, but at the same time being carefully designed to ensure that the researcher is able to extract the exact information they want from the audience. Questionnaires can be distributed in public or spread on the internet, making them a fast and effective way to gain information. An example of a questionnaire being used for media production is in audience research for a product. Producers can use the data taken from questionnaires to understand what their audience is like and what they want from the product.

Similar to questionnaires, internet forums are also a useful way to gain information from multiple people in quick time. A post with a question can be uploaded, and then it is just a matter of time before many people have replied with their thoughts and opinions on the matter. This form of research can also be turned into a conversation between multiple people, anonymous or not. An example of an internet forum being used to research audience opinions on something include forums created for fans to discuss their favourite video games, films, TV shows, and books, which can also be used by the producers and support team so that they can communicate directly with their audience to find out their thoughts as well as help them with any queries they have. A good example is the IMDb message boards, where movie fans can talk to each other and filmmakers can read what their audience is saying about their films.

Arguably, the real life version of an internet forum is a focus group, a form of research commonly used by market and audience researchers when planning a new product or service. For example, advertisers can show a group a new advertisement and ask them questions about what works and what doesn't, so they can gain feedback on it before releasing it publicly.  The advantages of focus groups are that they are a fast and effective way to derive information from multiple people at once depending on the size and co-operation of the group, and the researchers monitoring the group can judge peoples' thoughts and feelings based on their body language and facial expression (which cannot be done with questionnaires and internet forums). The main disadvantage is that sometimes a focus group may develop a mob mentality, and some people may not be as truthful due to "peer pressure," or that they simply do not have the confidence to speak up with an opinion different from the rest of the group. Also, focus groups can be more expensive, certainly more expensive than a questionnaire, so it all depends on the budget the researchers have. An example of when a focus group can be used effectively is when planning a new advertisement for a product. The advertisement can be pitched to the group, then the group can give their feedback on it.

Saturday 17 October 2015

The Nature & Purpose of Research in the Creative Media Industries

Research is a very important factor to include in pre-production, no matter what the production is, in the media industry. Whether the final product is going to be a film, article, advert, video game, or something else, lots of research should be undertaken before production is begun. Three different types of research should be undertaken - audience research, market research, and production research.

By conducting audience research (collecting and analysing information about the target audience for a specific product or sector of the media industry), the creator(s) of a media product can target their audience more effectively, therefore leading to a more successful product. Audience research is important for both the overall product and its advertising campaign. For example, the video game Guitar Hero has a very defined target audience - fans of rock music and playing musical instruments. Therefore, for the new Guitar Hero game, it seemed to make sense to create it in first person, so that it feels like the player is actually performing to a huge live audience. This is because research into the target audience had been done before the video game and its advertising campaign was made, and the researchers found that the majority of fans of the series were interested in live performance.

Market research is also an invaluable form of research that must be undertaken when planning a product or service, and it should also be performed periodically after the product/service has been released. Market research implements audience research, as it is part of working out what the products' target audience is and what its current audience is (if it is a product that has already been released). Market research also enables the producers to set reasonable targets for their product/service, allowing them to identify opportunities for growth, and possibly the introduction of new products/services. When conducting market research, both primary and secondary research can be used. Primary research refers to the monitoring of sales and quality of your own product. Secondary research refers to research into competitors' products, of which the data can be compared with your own products, allowing producers to understand what they can do to get the competitive edge and unique selling point. An example of market research being carried out in the media industry is the film company Pixar. Before releasing a film, Pixar's market researchers would investigate the current market to find out what is popular with Pixar's general target audience - young children and families. It would also research Pixar's main competitors such as Dreamworks to see what it is about their products that makes them popular. This enables Pixar to use this information to their advantage and gain back the popularity it may lose to Dreamworks after a release.

Product research is the third of the three types of important research that should be conducted. Product research enables you to understand what it is that your audience wants from the product or service they are offering, allowing you to tailor your product/service to your audience needs/wants, and also keep an edge up against the competition. Product research should be produced repeatedly throughout the production in order to make sure that your production company stays up to date with current trends. An example of product research being used in the media industry is in the planning stages for an advertising campaign for a product, like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. The producers of Dove understood that their industry was a very competitive one, and they needed a unique selling point and something to make their product stand out. So their hard-hitting and inspiring Real Beauty Sketches advert went viral very quickly, due to the fact that it connected with its target audience (women aged 20-50) on the fact that in most cases, women were very insecure about their appearances, and the advert encouraged women to think differently. The success of this campaign was due to the exceptional product research - the researchers knew exactly what the audience wanted - a product that would make them feel less insecure - and gave it to them.

Monday 5 October 2015

Research Terms Glossary

An archive is a place in which a collection of information and records are kept. They are a very useful place to start research about many topics. Archives can be both online and offline, for example, the New York Times has a website dedicated to past articles of its newspaper going back to 1951 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/nytarchive.html), and The Vatican’s Secret Archives is an example of an offline archive. 

Archive / ’ɑːkᴧIv/A n.  1. sing. and in pl. A place in which collected public or corporate records are kept; a repository for documents etc.; a data bank. 2. n. pl & sing. Records so kept. B v.t.Place or store in an archive; spec. (Computing) transfer to a store of infrequently used files, or to a memory at a lower hierarchical level. [Oxford English Dictionary]

University of Nottingham, c2015. What is an Archive? [online] Available at: <https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/graduateschool/resources/hidden-collections/introduction-to-archives/what-is-an-archive.aspx> [Accessed 2 October 2015].

Audience Profiling
Audience profiling refers to the creation of an audience profile based on the social and economic characteristics of a group of people, to aid in the marketing and advertisement of a product or service. A very common form of audience profiling is the use of the NRS demographics system, which involves putting audience members in groups based on their class and income, for example an upper-middle class citizen would fall into the A social grade and a working class citizen would fall into the D social grade. 

Economic characteristics (disposable income, car ownership, home ownership, etc.) and social characteristics (lifestyle, leisure activities, buying patterns) of the listenership, readership, or the viewership of a particular advertising medium.

Business Directory, c2015. Audience Profile. [online] Available at: <http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/audience-profile.html> [Accessed 2 October 2015].

BARB is the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board. It provides the industry standard for audience measurement, commissioning research companies to provide its clients with the data they want, for example, when Channel 4 want the audience statistics for their channel, they can go to BARB. 

BARB was set up in 1981 to provide the industry standard television audience measurement service for broadcasters and the advertising industry. BARB is owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BSkyB and the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) and is a not for profit company limited by guarantee.BARB commissions research companies to provide the services that our users want, including the production of audience viewing figures. The audience measurement contracts are held by the following companies - RSMB, Ipsos MORI and Kantar Media (formerly known as TNS).

BARB, c2015. Frequently Asked Questions. [online] Available at: <http://www.barb.co.uk/resources/barb-facts/faq> [Accessed 2 October 2015].

Content Analysis
Content analysis is the detailed examination of a form of a visual, written, or spoken communication. Content analysis can be used to identify the meanings behind the information and the meaning/ideas presented through the structure the information is presented in. An example of content analysis being used for research is the analysis of answers to a questionnaire. 

Content analysis is a technique for systematically describing written, spoken or visual communication. It provides a quantitative (numerical) description. Many content analyses involve media - print (newspapers, magazines), television, video, movies, the Internet. Any medium that can be recorded and reviewed is appropriate. Content analysis is also used to analyze new material recorded by the researchers, and to classify open-ended responses to interview or survey questions.

Stambor, z. 2005. Content Analysis: Introduction. [online] Available at: <http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites/sommerb/sommerdemo/content/intro.htm> [Accessed 2 October 2015]

A database is a collection of relevant information organised so that it is easy to access and manage. Databases are usually kept in a computer, and are used by many companies and organisations to hold information. An example of a company/organisation using a database is the NHS. The NHS uses a database to hold all its information about the millions of patients it treats. The database makes it easy for doctors and consultants to keep track of information on their patients.

A database is a data structure that stores organized information. Most databases contain multiple tables, which may each include several different fields. For example, a company database may include tables for products, employees, and financial records. Each of these tables would have different fields that are relevant to the information stored in the table.

Tech terms, c2015. Database. [online] Available at: <http://techterms.com/definition/database> [Accessed 2 October 2015]

Focus Groups

Focus groups are small groups of people (generally the target audience of the product/service you’re researching for), who are given a pitch of the product/service and then asked to give feedback based on their opinions of the product/service. Focus groups are useful for figuring out what changes can be made to a product before its production to make it more desireable to its target audience. They can also be used to find out the best way to market a product to the audience, making them a good place to start when planning an advertisement. 

A marketing research technique for qualitative data that involves a small group of people (6-10) that share a common set characteristics (demographics, attitudes, etc.) and participate in a discussion of predetermined topics led by a moderator. There are opportunities to conduct focus groups with the use of focus group software.

MRC, c2015. Focus Group. [online] Available at: <http://www.marketingresearch.org/issues-policies/glossary/focus-group> [Accessed 3 October 2015]

Internet Forums

Internet forums are places where people can discuss things online. People can post topics and read other people’s posts and respond to them. There is a forum online for nearly every subject, and some websites develop communities, such as on the forum sites 4Chan and Reddit. Internet forums can be very useful for research as one can gain lots of information from many people in a short space of time. Additionally, as many forums tend to be fairly anonymous (and anyone can choose to be anonymous if they prefer), it can allow for people to be more truthful in their answers. However this can also go the other way, and people may exaggerate or lie, filled with confidence due to the fact that their identity is hidden.

An Internet forum is a discussion area on a website. Website members can post discussions and read and respond to posts by other forum members. A forum can be focused on nearly any subject and a sense of an online community, or virtual community, tends to develop among forum members.This type of forum may also be called a message board, discussion group, bulletin board, or web forum, but it differs from a blog, the name for a web log, as a blog is usually written by one user and usually only allows for the responses of others to the blog material. A forum usually allows all members to make posts and start new topics.

Wise Geek, c2015. What is an Internet Forum? [online] Available at: <http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-an-internet-forum.htm> [Accessed 3 October 2015]


An interview is a meeting in which one or multiple people are asked questions based on a specific topic. Interviews can be used when deciding on an applicant for a new job (in a job interview), but are also used to create media content involving celebrities, for example interviews with actors on chat shows or in videos posted on the internet. When researching a topic/product/service, researchers can take to the public to interview them on their opinions, as part of their study. For example, researchers can go to a public place and ask passersby to answer their questions.

Interviewing involves asking questions and getting answers from participants in a study. Interviewing has a variety of forms including: individual, face-to-face interviews and face-to-face group interviewing.  The asking and answering of questions can be mediated by the telephone or other electronic devices (e.g. computers). Interviews can be structured, semi-structure or unstructured.  

Cohen D, Crabtree B. 2006. Qualitative Research Guidelines Project. [online] Available at: <http://www.qualres.org/HomeInte-3595.html> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


A scholarly/academic journal is a collection of articles written by experts and professors in a particular subject. They are often used for discussing new research and to criticize already existing research. Journals are useful for giving researchers a place to exchange their research. 

A journal is a scholarly publication containing articles written by researchers, professors and other experts. Journals focus on a specific discipline or field of study. Unlike newspapers and magazines, journals are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers.

University of Victoria, c2015. What’s a Journal? [online] Available at: <http://www.uvic.ca/library/research/tips/journal/index.php> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


Observation refers to analysing the activity of something, or frequently checking the results of some sort of research project, such as a questionnaire or interview. Observations are useful for keeping a close eye on results, and is normally paired with making extensive notes while an investigation is going on. Observing an audience’s reactions to something is a good way to conduct audience research for a new product/service. Another example of how observation is good for research is that when watching an event first-hand, it is easier to write about it based on the fact that you saw it from your own perspective. 

Deriving understanding of an activity or group by watching it. In qualitative market research practice, some 'pure' observation is carried out (for example, watching shoppers in-store) but observation is often accompanied by a degree of interaction between observer and observed. For example, researchers might go to a social event with respondents, not only watching but also joining in the activity, while also asking some questions and talking to participants about what is going on.

The Association for Qualitative Research, c2014. Observation. [online] Available at: <http://www.aqr.org.uk/glossary/observation> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


A periodical is a piece of literature released at regular intervals, for example, a magazine, newspaper, or journal. These are useful for research as the information is updated frequently, whilst in comparison, the information in a textbook might go out of date after multiple years, but would not be updated until a new textbook is published. 

A magazine or newspaper published at regular intervals.

Oxford Dictionaries, c2015. Periodical. [online] Available at: <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/periodical> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Primary Research

Primary research is research that is carried out to learn something new, by using questionnaires, surveys, and interviews. 

Market research can be either primary or secondary. Primary research is new research, carried out to answer specific issues or questions. It can involve questionnaires, surveys or interviews with individuals or small groups.

Business Case Studies, 1995. Market Research and Consumer Protection. [online] Available at: <http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/food-standards-agency/market-research-and-consumer-protection/primary-and-secondary-research.html> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research refers to research used to quantify a problem by generating numerical data that can be turned into statistics. An example of why this is useful in audience research is; by quantifying people’s opinions, views, and behaviours, researchers can better understand how an audience will respond to a product/service/marketing scheme, and better adjust their project to suit the audience. 

Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research.

Wyse, S.E., 2011. What is the difference between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research? [online] Available at: <http://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-qualitative-research-and-quantitative-research/> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research refers to using research to understand reasons, opinions, and motivations. It helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for quantitative research. Qualitative research can be gathered using small focus groups, interviews, and observations.

Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research.  It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfill a given quota.

Wyse, S.E., 2011. What is the difference between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research? [online] Available at: <http://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-qualitative-research-and-quantitative-research/> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


A questionnaire is a survey which is used to ask questions to various people. It is designed specifically to derive information about a specific topic. Questionnaires can be used to collect data, which can then be compared and analysed, making questionnaires a useful form of research, particularly when finding out an audience’s opinions about a certain topic. In most cases, a questionnaire is anonymous, allowing people to be more open and truthful in their answers than they would be if their identity wasn’t hidden, similarly to anonymous internet forums. Questionnaires can be used in conjunction with other forms of research, for example, a focus group can be given a questionnaire so that they can anonymously answer the questions. 

List of a research or survey questions asked to respondents, and designed to extract specific information. It serves four basic purposes: to (1) collect the appropriate data, (2) make data comparable and amenable to analysis, (3) minimize bias in formulating and asking question, and (4) to make questions engaging and varied.

Business Dictionary, c2015. Questionnaire. [online] Available at: <http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/questionnaire.html> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


Radio Joint Audience Research is a company set up to operate an audience measurement system for the whole UK radio industry. It serves both the BBC and licenced commercial radio stations. It is owned jointly by the BBC and the RadioCentre. It is responsible for setting the research specification, awarding the research contracts to third party suppliers, and quality control of the research. 

RAJAR Ltd (Radio Joint Audience Research) was set up in 1992 to align, design and operate a single audience measurement system for the UK radio industry serving both the BBC and licensed commercial stations.The company is jointly owned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and by the RadioCentre (the trade body representing the vast majority of Commercial Radio stations in the UK).Whilst the Board’s focus is on strategy, governance and decisions of policy, more detailed technical research matters, and where relevant, decision-making, takes place at the meetings of a Technical Management Group (TMG). This group is made up of representatives of the BBC,commercial radio and the advertising community.

Radio Joint Audience Research, c2015. The Organisation. [online] Available at: <http://www.rajar.co.uk/content.php?page=about_organisation> [Accessed 4 October 2015]


Recce is short for reconnaissance, and is used to assess a location before filming/writing a novel/screenplay based in that location. Before deciding on a location to film, it is important to check that that location is a suitable place to film. For example, filmmakers must think about whether the location is quiet enough, whether it has a power source for powering equipment like lighting and sound equipment, the access for vehicles and equipment, and the health and safety risks that may be present.

A recce is an essential part of the preparation and research processes to meet potential contributors, assess locations and research stories.  Carry out as many recces as your budget and time will allow as this will arm you with information that you can use to plan your script and filming schedule.  You should make sure risk assessments are carried out for recce's bearing in mind that often its one person going out on their own and the hazards of driving distances and sole working come into play.

Screen Hi, c2015. Why Do I Need To Recce? [online] Available at: <http://screenhi.co.uk/production/recce> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Reference Books

A reference book is a textbook that holds specific facts and information, such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, biography, directory, handbook, and more. They can be very useful for quickly finding the information you need, though they would not be quite as detailed as using a book based solely on the topic you are researching. For example if you were researching cars, a dictionary would have a definition of what a car is, but it would not hold any more detailed information.

Reference books are designed for accessing specific facts or information and can take the form of indexes, dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, almanacs, directories, handbooks etc.

Simon Fraser University, c2015. What Are Reference Books? [online] Available at: <http://www.lib.sfu.ca/find/other-materials/reference-sources/what-are-reference-books> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Secondary Research

Secondary research refers to the compilation of research already gathered from another source. Researchers will use previous studies, reports, and press releases to create their own report with their own conclusion.

Also known as desk research, secondary research is the most common research method employed in the industry today. It involves processing data that has already been collected by another party. With this form, researchers will consult previous studies and findings such as reports, press articles and previous market research projects in order to come to a conclusion. 

Market Research World, 2005. What is Secondary Research? [online] Available at: <http://www.marketresearchworld.net/content/view/810/> [Accessed 4 Octber 2015]


A survey is a method of gaining information from people. They can be completed in numerous ways, most commonly by using a printed questionnaire, however they can also be done over the telephone, via the mail, or in person. Every participant in a survey is asked the same questions, which are planned in advance and tailored to ensure that the exact information that is needed can be derived from the participants.

Surveys are a method of gathering information from individuals. Surveys have a variety of purposes, and can be conducted in many ways. Surveys may be conducted to gather information through a printed questionnaire, over the telephone, by mail, in person, by diskette, or on the web. This information is collected through use of standardized procedures so that every participant is asked the same questions in the same way. It involves asking people for information in some structured format. Depending on what is being analyzed, the participants being surveyed may be representing themselves, their employer, or some organization to which they belong.

HR Survey, c2015. What Is A Survey? [online] Available at: <http://www.hr-survey.com/WhatIs.htm> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Textual Analysis

Textual analysis refers to the analysis of the content of a form of media, such as a printed article, a speech, a film, or game. It involves the analysis of both themes and symbols within the text, in order to work out the meaning behind it.

A systematic analysis of the content rather than the structure of a communication, such as a written work, speech, or film, including the study of thematic and symbolic elements to determine the objective or meaning of the communication.

The Free Dictionary, c2015. Content Analysis. [online] Available at: <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Textual+Analysis> [Accessed 4 October 2015]