I have learned that surveys, when conducted correctly, have much value. Properly conducted polls have the opportunity to gain valuable insight on public opinion issues, gage awareness, measure attitudes, identify key publics, recognize consumer trends and set social norms. However, the true value of surveys can only be discovered when they are well designed, organized and generalizable. Challenges arise when these three conditions of a good survey are not applied. It is in these situations that we find such surveys as the pseudo poll which was presented earlier in this paper; invalid, unrealizable and nonprobable these sort of polls create distrust of surveys as a means of scientific research. Additionally, surveys are limited in the information they are able to collect. Unlike in person, or over the phone interviews, there is no way to gage facial or vocal inflection in the surveyors' responses. A lack of time, money and resources often prevent the inclusion of open-ended questions in surveys, further limiting the amount of data one is able to receive.
November 2012 Archives
This is an excellent outline of the Communication Research Process, which we discussed early in the semester. It begins by first identifying a problem and mapping out a research strategy. From here a research question can be formed, which they suggest is the single most important part of the method as it must be narrowed to focus on the root of the problem that is being researched. Once the research question is formed, one can determine the methods, which will be used to gather information. Additionally, they suggest researching previous studies on the same, or similar, subject. Finally, once all the information has been gathered, one can analyze and interpret the results, enabling action steps to be taken.
I gained much insight into this method and found the many questions and explanations they provide to be very useful.
This YouTube video is an introduction to Survey Monkey, a free online survey software and questionnaire tool. I use the software often to poll the opinions of my sorority sisters and to conduct surveys for classes. I find the software very easy to use and appreciate the fact that it is free. Additionally, I have found the software's way of collecting data very useful, as it is conveniently displayed as graphs.
This is a very valuable article, which makes several suggestions on how to combine common strategies to increase the response rate of post-graduate outcome data. Several suggestions for the survey design include: tailoring the survey to the intended audience, making the survey user-friendly, recognizing that appearance matters and focusing on essential questions. Additionally, one must consider the administration of surveys. The article suggests ensuring confidentiality, personalization, providing prenotification of the survey's importance, expressing commitment, promising incentives and conducting follow-up. By combining several of these techniques, one can be expected to increase their survey response rate and gather more generalizable data.
Summary: This article draws attention to the controversy of patenting human genes, thereby limiting who can work on research. According to the article, published on November 30, 2012, the US Supreme Court added to its docket a case concerning patents held by Myriad Genetics on genes that correlate with increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Scientists and doctors are challenging these patents due to their inability to conduct their own research and help patients. In their petition seeking review, the plaintiffs told the Supreme Court that "Myriad and other gene patent holders have gained the right to exclude the rest of the scientific community from examining the naturally occurring genes of every person in the United States." Additionally, the patents "prevent patients from examining their own genetic information" and "made it impossible to obtain second opinions."
My Opinion: I found this article very interesting because it highlights one of the main problems with research - the race to find the answer first. In this race, people often forget the overall intention of what they are doing, which is to help others achieve greater and better health. In this case, it is my opinion that Myriad Genetics has been corrupted by their drive for money and prestige in finding a cure, forgetting that they are inhibiting others from achieving the same goal. The competition has become so severe that people's lives hang in the balance and everyone's main concern is rights to research, but everyone has the right to live as well. I believe that the Supreme court should rule in favor of the plantiffs.
Growing up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, I would be fascinated to evaluate the effects of the United Way's 2008 Pregnant Boy Campaign. Every time I drove through the city at this time I was surrounded by busses, bust stops, billboards and posters of pregnant boys and the saying "it shouldn't be any less disturbing when it's a girl." The campaign was meant to highlight the city's high teen pregnancy rate and encourage the idea that it should not be the norm. I know from articles I have read in Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel that the city's teen pregnancy rate has gone gone over these last five years, but I would love to evaluate the effects of this add on the changing norms.
"Public relations research supplies initial inputs to guide strategy and message development for organizational objectives, philosophies and change, and provides a method for predicting effectiveness and assessing results. It is research practitioners who identify the needs and interests of an organization's publics, so that other public relations specialties can properly address and work towards fulfilling them in the most effective way possible. Often these results are included in a media plan, which describes the current circumstances facing the organization, sets goals, identifies key publics, and specifies key messages and media platforms. The cultivation of such plans and research adds value to public relations practitioners among all specialties, and the field itself, for their ability to contribute calculated data and insight to achieve organizational goals.
The cultivation of such research allows public relations professionals to speak truthfully and knowledgably about their publics, establish accurate philosophies on how to stimulate change, and be open about the actions that will be taken to achieve organizational objectives. Ivy Ledbetter Lee, named the father of public relations, defined public relations as acting "frankly and openly, on behalf on business concerns and public institutions, to supply to the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which is of value and interest to the public to know about." While the field has definitely changed since Lee's time, the concept of transparency is essential in establishing the solid relationships essential for accomplishing an organization's intended outcomes." - Taken from a paper I wrote for Jour 3202
As the economy continues to struggle, more and more businesses have begun conducting "in-house research," meaning that people within the company are expected to be able to conduct and interpret data. While I see this as a great opportunity for people to gain greater insight into their target audiences and interests, I fear that unqualified individuals may collect and share false data and thus harm the public's opinion of the greater field of research. As we have discussed in class, many are already skeptical of research studies, not believing them to be representative and not wanting to participate because they feel there is an alternative agenda. If conducted poorly, those conducting in-house research could reinforce these stereotypes, further hurting the field.
On the flip side, this new process of conducting research would same businesses much money and enable them to still gain insight, when conducted correctly. Additionally, the value of understanding the research process in invaluable within a company, as it enables them to conduct similar, follow-up, or continuous studies in the future.
According to this article by the Public Relations Society of America, Obama's casual tone in emails helped him raise $690 million dollars for his 2012 Presidential Campaign. This report inspires me to evaluate whether this sort of casual tone would also work for various types of businesses. As we have discussed in class, wording and ordering are key to securing valid results. I would likely conduct research by creating several carefully worded emails at varying levels of formality to see which where most read and responded to. I would then replicate this process for several different types of business fields and gather and analyze the results. I would be very curious to know whether there is any correlation between certain types of fields and the formality of their writing.
One thing that stuck out to me from this recent election was the reporting of two different US unemployment rates from the liberal and conservative media outlets. The liberal news stations always report significantly lower unemployment rates than those of conservative stations. This article does a good job of explaining how each of the two rates is calculated. The primary difference between the two calculations is the inclusion of people who want a job, but are too discouraged to look for work. The problem with the two different unemployment rates is that they create uncertainty as to which figure is a true representation of the greater US population. Based on our class lessons this inconsistency in figures makes both unemployment rates invalid and unreliable. Ultimately, there must be a consistent formula developed to determine the country's true unemployment rate to establish valid and reliable results.