Research Vocabulary

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In class we discussed how the word "random" has now been gentrified and is part of many people's every day language. Another blog I came across discussed how "trend" has fallen into the same issue. She's a trend analyst and explains that people often don't know quite what to expect from her because they get caught up in the idea of a fashion trend or what's "trendy".

"The truth is, whether we are reading, watching a movie, looking at art, buying products, or shopping, our world does not change that much. We don't step from one world into a new one when we come from behind our screens to go jeans shopping, or when we go from yoga to the bank. Our desires influence--and are influenced by--our whole paradigm, our entire set of references.

That means that we are influenced and influence trends on different levels."

Researchers find trends in their data constantly. Trends help predict genetic mutations, diseases, fashion, people's likelihood to buy something...it certainly is a large and encompassing word.

Invisibility Cloak!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ja_fuZyHDuk

Science and research are sooo interesting! There are some amazing things happening in the world, these days.

DrinkSavvy Color Changing Drinkware

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DrinkSavvy Color Changing Drinkware is a product being developed to prevent people from being roofied at parties and clubs with tasteless, odorless or colorless drugs.

Right now they're still testing and doing scientific research to perfect the project but it could be seriously revolutionary.

A Pregnant Man? The Power of Widespread Research

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A man jokingly peed on a pregnancy test and was shocked to discover that according to the strip, he was pregnant.

He posted this startling discovery to Reddit and someone urged him to get checked for testicular cancer. "The short story is that all pregnancy tests are checking for a pregnancy hormone called Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is produced by the placenta in women (the temporary organ that forms when an embryo has attached to the uterine lining) and is thus a reliable indicator of pregnancy. As it turns out, HCG is also produced in men suffering from a rare but aggressive form of testicular cancer called choriocarcinoma. Choriocarcinoma tumors secrete HCG, and it's identical to the hormone secreted by placentas."

So someone may have saved this man's life from knowing this tiny fact and happening upon his Reddit post. I think this is a very interesting thing to consider because as we spread research knowledge further, add it to social media sites, look into more platforms like the Cell Slider one I previously posted about, think about how much more we'll be able to help out people in need and spread knowledge. It's truly an interesting thing to consider.

Volunteer Researchers

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While browsing a popular design/communications blog, PSFK, I came upon their list of innovative projects going on in the medical field. One of the most interesting was this one, called Cell Slider. It's built on a platform by two companies, Zooniverse, a crowdsource research project originally built for identifying stars, and Cancer Research UK.

"Volunteers will analyze images in ways that computers cannot, and in greater numbers than if only professionals were tasked with the research. The smartly designed website asks users to identify what kind of cells they see in an image - white blood cells, connective tissue or irregular cells. If they identify the appearance of mutations, they are prompted to count how many there are, what proportion of them are stained yellow, and how intensely they are stained." The site even has a tutorial and guides for identifying the cells. "Each image is viewed at least five times to reduce the inaccuracies that inevitably result from using nonprofessional analysts, and a portion of the slides have been looked at by experts to calibrate the results."

It's such an interesting idea to crowd source research- especially research like this. I mean, obviously this type of site might not be that thesible for an ad company to do but it's still a bit of really neat medical research.

Do Better Research!

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Especially over the last couple of weeks with our analytics speaker, our own TA presenting and taking a closer look at applied PR and Ad research, it's finally solidified in my brain that research is completely necessary. The problem is that research done incorrectly or results that are misunderstood can end up as a waste of time and money.

The article urges every company to embrace more than just quantitative surveys and random focus groups. They use the example of a European energy provider that does extensive customer research to ensure their customers are happy. A representative from the company explains it very well, "The way that we make a customer feel will dictate how they behave--whether they stay with us as their energy provider, whether they call us up, and whether they shout at us when they do call," he says.

What method did the company use to research? They asked a number of new customers to keep every piece of communication they received from the energy provider in the six weeks it takes to switch over. These customers were also asked to graph how they felt about the switch each day. "These exercises and subsequent one-on-one interviews in customers' homes revealed that E.ON's new recruits wanted reassurance that they'd made the right decision to switch providers--and became concerned when they didn't get it."

It may seem like a tiny piece of the company's entire plan but it's absolutely crucial and a great example of research done well.

Creativity Research

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Everyone is desperate to come up with THE innovative, new idea that revolutionizes their field. But how are things like that done? Teresa Amabile heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top B-school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity and is one of the country's foremost explorers of business innovation.


Her Study:
In an interesting method of research, she collected daily "diaries" from 238 people working on creative projects in seven companies in the consumer products, high-tech, and chemical industries. The participants weren't made aware that "creativity" was what she was watching for but she dug for it by asking them about challenges they faced, what their work environment was like every day, and especially when they came up with solutions to problems. With nearly 12,000 entries to process the article states that Amabile and her team are still examining them but they feel they've already flipped 6 myths about creativity.

Results
1. Creativity doesn't have to come from "creative types". Anyone with normal intelligence can be creative or spark the next great idea for your company.
2. Money doesn't motivate creativity. In fact, it seems that people who are busy thinking about bonuses or being paid are less likely to be creative. Most respondents in the study said they didn't consider their pay on a day to day basis. Their job is their job. She also suggests that people who are so worried about their pay are more likely to be risk-averse thinking they'll be punished if they try something new and out of the ordinary. "People are most creative when they care about their work and they're stretching their skills. If the challenge is far beyond their skill level, they tend to get frustrated; if it's far below their skill level, they tend to get bored."
3. Time pressure doesn't fuel creativity. Interestingly, most of the respondents thought that being on deadline made them more creative but her data showed the opposite. "Time pressure stifles creativity because people can't deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up." I know that I've felt this with Graphic Design projects I've had in the past. The less time I have to do it, the more standard it is.
4. Neither fear nor sadness spur creativity. "There's a kind of virtuous cycle. When people are excited about their work, there's a better chance that they'll make a cognitive association that incubates overnight and shows up as a creative idea the next day. One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity."
5. Competition doesn't beat collaboration. "when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information. And that's destructive because nobody in an organization has all of the information required to put all the pieces of the puzzle together." I've found it so helpful to have weekly critiques for my graphics class. It's always great to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work.
6. A streamlined organization does not make a creative organization. "Creativity suffers greatly during a downsizing...Every single one of the stimulants to creativity in the work environment went down significantly."

Overall, interesting things to keep in mind for whatever field you work in.

All info from: http://www.fastcompany.com/51559/6-myths-creativity

Campus 3.0

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As evidenced by my blog, I spend a lot of time reading Fast Company articles due to my involvement/interest in the combination of communication, business and design. This morning while reading I found an article titled "Designing Colleges for More than Just Connectivity," written by Maddy Burke-Vigeland an architect and Principal for global design firm, Gensler.

The article is based off of two years of surveying and research done by Gensler looking at students preferences for learning around campus and how college designs are either meeting or not meeting these preferences. It shows for example, how about 2/3 of students prefer to study alone but would rather have interactive discussions in class- basically opposite of what's offered at most schools. Overall it proposes less focus on technology in the classroom and more focus on methods to help kids learn, including increased discussion time in classes.

"How Companies Learn Your Secrets" - Behavioral Research

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This semester I am enrolled in Marketing 3001 where we've also discussed research and its impact on marketing activities. This week we read an article from the New York Times titled, "How Companies Learn Your Secrets" that was very interesting.

The article begins by sharing a story from a statistician at Target who was approached by marketers asking if they could figure out when a customer was pregnant. According to the article "new parents are a retailer's holy grail". The idea is that pregnancy and welcoming a new baby into the family is a very chaotic time in a couple's life and they tend to make quick decisions on buying things for their new family member- and they buy A LOT of stuff. Because this is such an up-in-the-air time for families, it's an easy time to target them to make them change their habits; for example, to go from buying only your cleaning supplies at Target to realizing "Oh hey, I could also pick up some produce while I'm already here...and I have a coupon for baby wipes so I might as well get those...and here are those diapers I've been looking for..." etc, etc.

A chairman from the Predictive Analytics World Conference says that Target has always been talented in the area of "predictive analytics" and using behavioral research to their advantage. I think that this is one of my favorite parts of the marketing and promotions world- applying behavioral research to consumers. It's so endlessly interesting and perhaps a little unethical but intriguing.

Target was inspired to look into changing people's habits by a number of studies that have been done recently regarding habit formation. Some of the strongest research on this shows that habits are based on cues, actions and rewards. Target set out to create habits by setting up their own cues and rewards. In the case of getting pregnant women to buy everything at Target, their cue would be a page of coupons for baby bottles, lotion, a grocery item, (Target found people are more okay with this type of marketing and will use the coupons if it doesn't seem quite so purposeful, so for example not sending customers "Congrats on your baby" flyers), the action would be to use it and then the reward is saving the money. The more opportunities people have for going into Target the more likely they are to buy lots of things from Target.

The research in general is pretty cool because I'd be interested in trying out the cue/action/reward technique for studying/exercising, things like that.

I Took a Survey on a Plane

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On my way back from Atlanta, Georgia last weekend I took a survey for Delta on the little TV screen on the back of the head rest.

This class has made me so much more aware of all the ways and efforts companies are making at getting my feelings, thoughts, input.

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