More Firms Move to In-House Research

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Throughout this class, we have learned how to generate our own research and understand other's. We also looked at research companies that brands and companies hire to complete their research. For me, I had a difficult time understanding the importance of learning proper questionnaire design, exploring various survey options, and research regulations and guidelines because I assumed that wherever I work, we would most likely do our research out of house as well.

But a recent article published by The Wall Street Journal, suggests that we might see a rise in in-house research.

While the article doesn't go into the advantages and disadvantages of conducting research in-house versus hiring out, there are definitely differences between the two. In favor of in-house, research would most likely be cheaper but unless the company spends money on new technology, they might not produce or receive the data they could get from a secondary source.

Either way, this article should serve as a reminder that understanding research is a skill that employers may be looking for when hiring new employees and it's important that people know more than the basics.

This would definitely have been an interesting topic to cover in class, I hope you consider sharing with students the possibility of them conducting research at future jobs that don't necessarily have research in the job description...yet.

Obsessed with Getting Published

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New research shows that some researchers may be more concerned with getting their research published than generating new and original data.

The Australian article, In Research, more is less, highlights the controversial issue of researchers plagiarizing their own work and "salami-slicing" their research in order to become published in scholarly journals. Numerous studies prove that these two methods compose up to 22% of published articles. For those of you who are not familiar with self-plagiarism, researchers have been known to modify previously published articles, present the data in a slightly different light and get their articles published again and again. The author explains salami-slicing as picking a part data and publishing articles about individual pieces of the puzzle to get more publicity.

Personally, I was extremely surprised by this number. I have been warned in class and on the web that researchers oftentimes have an "agenda" but I never knew that some researchers took it this far. While this is definitely not a positive aspect of the research world, it is good to remember that some researchers have ulterior motives.

Trusting Research

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Today, I read an article from the Detroit Free Press regarding the egg research controversy and was impressed with the angle this story took. The article briefly examines the controversy surrounding egg research and whether eating them is bad for you but then dives into explaining what makes research valid.

If you haven't seen this article, I definitely recommend reading it now.

The author says, "The most useful thing for the public to remember is to think about how many people are in the study, what ax the researchers may have to grind, and whether it's biased in any way and controlled for confounding factors."

Throughout my research coursework, we have learned specific tactics to ensure that research is valid and accurate but I think this quote can serve as a good reference for everyone to remember as they encounter research data.

Technology and Public Opinion Research

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A recent article by the Huffington Post lists cell phones and the internet as two important technologies of 2012 when it comes to public opinion research.

The article states that some of the discrepancies of past political public opinion polling were because researchers underestimated and underrepresented the amount of "cell-phone-only households" in their samples. The author goes on to explain that a number of these cell-phone-only households share the same background and political views and therefore, leaving them out of a sample generated inaccurate results. Because of these inaccuracies, many strategists set quotas for the number of cell-phone-only households before starting their polls this election year.

In addition to paying more attention to cell-phones, HuffPost says it's important to reach out to voters via the web. With the internet, research can reach a vast source of voters and acquire more accurate qualitative data.

The first, make sense, the internet allows researchers to contact more people in a short amount of time and with little expense. The latter, however, threw me for a loop...qualitative data?

According to the article, more researchers are turning to the web to conduct online qualitative interviews about controversial and sensitive issues. The author states that this approach works because researchers receive "personal thoughts and feelings from respondents that they may have otherwise been reluctant to share in a more traditional focus group settings."

Although this surprised me at first, it makes sense to use the web for this type of polling. After all, it is relatively easy and cheap to find your sample and if respondents are responding via this medium, I would expect more sensitive surveys to be distributed online.

YouTube Changes Video Ranking Algorithm

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Last week, YouTube announced on their blog that they have "started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search to reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching." What does this mean exactly?

Previously, YouTube's "Most Popular" and "Recommended" videos were based off of the numbers of views or clicks a video receives. But over this past year, YouTube has switched its focus to ensure that the videos they suggest are representative of what videos people actually watch and enjoy rather than those that are simply clicked on but not necessarily viewed.

Not only will this new algorithm provide YouTube users with the actual, Most Popular videos, but this new ranking system gives content creators and companies a more accurate depiction of the most popular videos. After all, now it takes more than a catchy video title and display image to become one of YouTube's Most Popular video.
YouTube has also added "Time Watched" to its YouTube Analytics so people can now view their video's "Estimated minutes watched."

This addition will be extremely helpful for users to understand their own videos popularity as well as in assessing other videos that are deemed "Most Popular." For companies generating viral videos, this research will allow them to assess videos of their own as well as videos of their competitors. Therefore allowing marketers to grasp what aspects of videos are well received by target audiences.

If you haven't checked out YouTube Analytics I would encourage you to do so! Here's a video to get you started.


Research Available to Journalists

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This week in my strategic writing course, we talked about the amount of false news that is being reported in today's society. With a couple of these false reports gaining popularity in the news currently, I think it is important to remember as upcoming journalists that there are many free online research databases that we can turn to to better check information and statistics.

I have a compiled a few of my favorites:

Google Scholar

PubMed Central

National Bureau of Economic Research

Journalist's Resource

While this information may not be complete, these data bases provide journalists with an easy way to properly fact check on a deadline.

Survey Review: Simplifying Surveys

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As I was completing a classmate's survey last night, I found it extremely difficult to answer the questions she was asking. I went back over the questions and expected to notice some leading or loaded questions but found none. But then I realized, while the survey wasn't wrong, it was poorly designed.

The survey was comprised of completely open ended questions but wouldn't accept a blank answer. For at least two of the questions, I would have responded no but because I had to submit an answer, I did. Because of this inconvenience, I wouldn't be surprised if other participants did this as well. Additionally, most of the questions asked us to list circumstances or groups of people but it would help her data as well as her participants if she listed specific outcomes in a multiple choice format and then also had a "other" (with the option to list the other circumstance) and a "NA".

If she would have done this, I have no doubt that she would have a more organized data set as well as better, concrete answers from participants.

Google Research Provides Input for Mobile Phone Providers

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Google posted on their blog today research that can predict the success and sales of smart phones. After analyzing their search results, they found interesting figures for phone companies.

Google found that 52 percent of "purchase-related searches" occur before the company
actually launches the product and that for every one million views a product's video receives the week before its launch, there is an additional 11 percent rise in sales.

What does this information do for phone companies? Well, the findings suggest certain trends within the industry and show proof that more people are researching phones than ever before.

For more on the findings, I encourage you to check out Tech Crunch's article.

This just in-- Kansas State researchers are beginning to analyze Twitter statuses to see if they can use this medium in the prevention of disease. According to e! Science News, "researchers are studying whether a well-timed post from a public authority or trustworthy person could be as beneficial as flu shots, hand-washing or sneezing into an elbow."

The research team is comprised of countless researchers from numerous different backgrounds. So far researchers have surveyed people on various concepts such as how college students use social media and what preventative techniques they use to reduce their chances of acquiring an illness. The end goal is to see if a strategically placed tweet could prevent disease and to determine who would be the best person to distribute this message.

While the article is informational, it doesn't list any other survey techniques. In my opinion, I think a good method would be to implement a focus group where college students could have an open discussion on opinion leaders or where they receive their news and whether or not they would take initiative from a tweet urging them to get a flu shot, etc.

Definitely an interesting topic- I'll be sure to keep you posted on further research.

University Brand Perception and the .xxx Domain Survey

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This evening I participated in the University Brand Perception and the .xxx Domain Survey via the SJMC research pool. Based on the questions, it is obvious that the researcher set out to determine people's opinions towards .xxx domains and the perceived image participants have of universities that buy these domains to protect their online image. The survey was completely composed of Likert Scales and didn't give any open-ended question.

Although I think this type of scale is qualified for the type of results the researcher is looking for I worry that because this is an extra credit survey, that few people will actually read about what a .xxx domain is and therefore, the researchers could receive inconsistent or skewed data. Thus, I think that this survey would be better suited for an audience that has experience of prior knowledge of .xxx domains. Without this prior knowledge, it would be hard to gauge such newly formed opinions solely from likert scales.