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may find themselves reading information from a book that is decades old, meaning the information could be fairly outdated.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the Egyptians for a historical epic film using a textbook written decades ago, as some of the information may be outdated, so if they want the film to be historically accurate, they should research from recent and up to date information.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 (, 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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [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: <> [Accessed 4 October 2015]

Sunday 6 September 2015

Presentation Techniques

News Presenter

A news presenter is a person who presents the news during a news program on TV, radio, or online. They can also be knows as a newsreader, newscaster, anchorman/woman, or news anchor. Styles and techniques that news presenters must adopt include - using the correct terminology and pronounciations (without slang), and appearing professional and authoritative without patronizing viewers. Famous examples of news presenters include Sir Trevor McDonald (former anchor for ITN), Jeremy Paxman (former anchor for Newsnight), and George Alagiah (current anchor for BBC News at Six).

Continuity Announcer

A continuity announcer is a person who's job is to announce to viewers what TV programme is coming up next, and inform them of any changes to the schedule and of any sensitivities that could be present in the coming programme. A continuity announcer is, in most cases not seen, and is instead a voiceover commonly played over an ident. The idea is to link and/or promote upcoming programmes and encourage people to stay tuned. A technique commonly used by continuity announcers include appealing to the intellect or sense of humour of the audience. An example of a continuity announcer is Claire Gibbb, who currently works for the BBC.

Broadcast Journalist

A broadcast journalist is someone who broadcasts news and journals via radio, TV, and the internet. A broadcast journalist must have strong research skills and accuracy. All facts that are to be broadcasted must be double checked in order to avoid releasing false information. The tone of voice and image should be serious and professional to reflect the seriousness of the profession.

Magazine Programme Presenter

A magazine programme is a TV show that presents various topics, usually based on current events, using an interview and commentary format, for example, The One Show. These types of programmes have a similar approach to news and current events as a normal paper magazine. Presenters for these types of shows should be knowledgeable across a large range of subjects (or at least appear so) and have a good sense of control, with an ability to link the material they are given together. They should also possess good interviewing techniques, as interviews are a key part of the TV show. 

Lifestyle Programme Presenter

Lifestyle programmes refers to shows such as cooking shows, home improvement, fashion makeovers, and various other life-improvement shows. The presenters should be fairly casual and knowledgeable about the subject. The style of presentation should be like a conversation between friends, with the presenter talking directly to the audience and/or the guests featured on the show.

Documentary Presenter

Documentary presenters (notable examples including David Attenbough, Steve Erwin, and Bill Nye) can have various different presenting styles depending on the context of the documentary. In some documentaries, the presenter is in the shot (this is quite common in an interview format), or they can be a voiceover out of shot.Talking heads are very popular in the documentary genre. Different styles of documentary include wildlife documentaries (in which the presenter will often be offscreen), and history (which can be a mixture of offscreen commentary and onscreen interviews) and life stories (which is commonly talking head interviews). Documentary presenters should also be very knowledgeable about the subject they are talking about, so they are able to rely information confidently and clearly to the audience.


DJs and radio presenters often have their own personality that they present to the audience which entertains them. For example, Daniel P. Carter, DJ for the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show, has quite a lively, friendly, and humorous personality, which helps to keep the show's younger audience interested. Radio presenters should also use the same language that the target audience uses, so to use Daniel P. Carter as an example again, he uses a lot of informal language and slang, similar to his target audience. In contrast Alan Titchmarsh from Classic FM uses more formal language and a calmer tone which it's older audience prefers.

Chat Show Host

A chat show host, such as Ellen Degeneres or Conan O'Brien should be relaxed and comfortable in front of a large audience. They should ask questions that are interesting and entertaining to the audience, as well as informative. They should have the ability to make guests feel relaxed on the show, and comfortable enough to answer questions that would interest the audience (this could lead to fairly personal questions, which is where the comfort factor comes in).

Game Show Host

Game show hosts are the most important factor of a game show's success. A lively, entertaining hosts is what keeps the audience interested and the contestants relaxed and involved. Examples of popular game show hosts are Bradley Walsh and comedy duo Ant and Dec. They both use humour to keep the audience entertained, often taking part in friendly banter with the contestants. Hosts should have the ability to think quickly and should always appear in control, even when the show is not going as planned. Confidence and energy should also be radiating off them.