Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Some Tips

Having seen quite a few of by now, the following are some tips based on aspects you seem to be struggling with (I'll add to this as I work through the appointments)::

DON'T PANIC! no matter how far behind you are, you can turn this round: you have the basic exam questions already [Q1: how did you go about researching this topic; Q2: what have you discovered about this topic] and some detailed breakdowns for both questions [HINT: use these!!!]. Break the work down into bite-sized tasks, practicing writing up your findings for both Q1 & Q2 as you go - so [Q1] describe this part of the research process, how you went about finding info, but also evaluate how useful this was (strengths and weaknesses of rsch methods AND sources) + [Q2] summarise what you found out

  • Q1 MUST SHOW THE RESEARCH PROCESS - MAKE LINKS BETWEEN 2NDARY & PRIMARY RESEARCH: e.g. look at your Q'aire; have you read any articles which link to 1 of your Qs? If so, here you have an example of how secondary research influenced design of your primary research
  • LOOK FOR THEMES/RECURRING ARGUMENTS: this mainly applies to Q2, but can also be useful for organising/structuring your Q1 essay; look for common themes and structure your Q2 essay round these - which means, for example, taking certain Qs from your Q'aire and tying these (and your results) in with articles you've read. E.g., there are many views on the Q of media violence/effects: it clearly has a negative effect (hypodermic syringe passive audience effects model) and more censorship/regulation/age restriction is needed; new/digital media make all arguments about regulation/age restrictions out-moded and irrelevant; we need to see children as sophisticated media consumers (U&G - Blumler & Katz's uses & gratifications model of active audience); calls for censorship are actually ideologically-driven moral panics, often whipped up by right-wing newspapers (eg D.Mail) or TV outlets (eg Fox News in USA) - and often a reflection of technophobia: the older generation's fear of new technologies typically taken up by young people ('early adopters') which they may not understand; the evidence is mixed, and further, more in-depth and long-term research needs to be carried out...
  • THERE OFTEN IS NO DEFINITIVE 'RIGHT' ANSWER TO YOUR RESEARCH Q - IT'S A CASE OF YES AND NO...: Don't think you have to come up with a clear-cut answer; it's perfectly valid to conclude that there are some powerful arguments on either side - this leads to a neat structure for Q2 where you can set out both sides of the argument, including aspects of your own research which either support or contradict your own hypothesis
  • THE 4 SIDES OF HAND-WRITTEN NOTES: 1st off, rem that if I don't sign these off you can't take anything into the exam. Its vital you DON'T use CONTINUAL PROSE (ie full sentences) in these notes, other than direct quotes from books or of questions you used in Q'aires etc - and these should not be more than 2 or 3 lines. Rem also that the 2nd side of the cover sheet I sign has space for a list of references.
  • SETTING OUT YOUR NOTES: use upper-case HEADINGS and even colour codes (eg primary rsch in red, 2ndary green, newspaper articles blue, quotes black). Think about it: if you have to search through your notes they're not really much use. You have the question in advance, so make your notes as user-friendly (for you!) as possible
  • REFERENCES: You must give full references wherever you're discussing books/articles/websites/web-pages etc - and, yes, this does mean those sometimes very long URLs (make sure these go in your notes, and on the cover sheet)
  • TEXTUAL ANALYSIS: it is vital you include some textual analysis, which essentially boils down to either content (measuring what appears in a text, or, more likely, a series of texts) or semiotic analysis (as you did for the AS exam, deconstructing a text denoting shots/editing etc and using terms like signifier, polysemic, anchorage, preferred reading etc). E.g., for children/video games you could deconstruct some sample sleeves and/or ads (print and/or TV), probably using YouTube, google searches or company websites
  • SEMIOTICS: I'll upload some refresher guides later
  • EVALUATING RESEARCH METHODS: Even if its just ONE ... do make use of the handouts and books in the library on research methods as part of your evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses [Q1] of the research methods you've used. Better still if you've found a book/article which actually uses the same method and reflects upon it, but the Messenger-Davies book, amongst others, evaluates the pros/cons of various rsch meths - so a quote or 2 would be a good idea
  • EVALUATE SOURCES: I'm sure you've all used some material from The Guardian; always reflect on the nature and possible bias/ideological orientation of your source. Gdn's a centre-left newspaper, so may be in favour of regulation of media ownership and advertising, but against censorship; a paper like The Times, on the other hand, is right-wing and likely to be in favour of censorship (the likes of The Mail often campaign for censorship). Murdoch owns The Times (and BSkyB, + Fox...) so it will be against regulation of advertising and media ownership. Some books are written to push a point-of-view, not as a report on neutral academic research - always consider this
That'll do for now...

No comments:

Post a Comment