Author Archives: tracymatos

Week 12 – How My Research Question Has Evolved

Hey everyone! Can’t believe this is the end already! To think about how my research topic has evolved, I had to look back at the comments made on my SSHRC program of work and what I had to consider on changing or improving for this research proposal. So, I decided to not focus on CIPA anymore because it’s an American legislation and I don’t want to travel to the U.S. However, I found the topic of Internet censorship really interesting so I decided to focus on Internet censorship within Canada. This is actually an advantage for my research because there is not much literature focusing on this within the Canadian context. So, this research could certainly contribute to the literature that discusses this topic. Other than that, my research topic has not changed all that much.

Looking back at my previous blog posts, I realized that I could not decide if I wanted to take an ethnographic approach with this research. It took me awhile to figure out that this approach may not be best suitable for my research question. The purpose of my question is to hear librarians and children’s voices about how they are affected by Internet censorship. I think interviews are the best way to go about with this research. Also, not many scholars used this approach when discussing this topic, or if they did, they did not include the responses from the participants in their papers, which I intend to do for my own research.

Good luck to everyone on your research proposals and other assignments and see you all next semester!

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Week 11 – Peer Review

I found Lovejoy, Revenson and France’s (2011) article thoroughly informative, especially for someone who is not too familiar with the peer reviewing process. It was interesting to see that Lovejoy acknowledges that many people are unaware of the process and states that they “may never attempt these activities, despite the desire to do so, because they feel ill-equipped to conduct a review” (p. 2). I, for one, feel this way, especially since I never really had the confidence to even review my own work, let alone someone else’s. I looked over my peers’ papers on several occasions, but I found this really difficult to do. I remember looking over paragraph after paragraph, and there were times where I could not find anything to critique on.

Throughout my years in university, I have often asked family members and friends to look over my work, and to provide me all the honest critiques they can give. I feel more comfortable with people that I know and trust to review my work, especially those who are familiar with my style of writing. They acknowledge the common mistakes I make when writing papers and they point this out to me and tell me a better way to go about with the paper. I find to be at less ease when a stranger reviews my work because I am not always confident with my own writing, and I do not take it well when others criticize it. However, from Professor Galey’s lecture last week and the readings, I felt a bit more relaxed when I was told to not feel entirely discouraged or upset if the reviews come back and reject your paper or advises major changes. Lovejoy et al. (2011) also mention that papers are sometimes rejected because they would perhaps “be better suited for publication elsewhere” (p. 3). So, a rejection does not necessarily mean that the paper is bad in the sense of quality of writing. Even so, I am still a bit apprehensive about submitting my paper to a journal; yet, I hope that I will eventually gain enough confidence to do so someday.

Lovejoy, T.I., Revenson, T.A., France, C.R. (2011). Reviewing manuscripts for peer-review journals: A primer for novice and seasoned reviewers. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 1-13.

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Week 11 – Digital Preservation

(Note: I wrote “Week 11” in my title, since I’m including Reading Week and made that Week 10)

My professors in the past told me to keep all my research notes and findings in a locked and secure place for a certain amount of time, but this was due to confidentiality and privacy issues. So, I have not really thought about preserving my materials for others to look at and understand. With this specific research proposal in mind and the method I would probably like to use, which is interviewing, I did not initially think digital preservation will be relevant since, like some of you have written so far, I prefer to have paper copies. In my personal experiences, I have found paper copies and physical files to be a lot more secure and reliable than digital files. There were a few times where I lost important documents on my computer, and I had no idea how to retrieve them. However, in this increasingly technological era, I simply cannot avoid the use of technology, and so, my transcripts and recordings from my interviews will most likely be typed up and uploaded to my computer. 

Now what is a bit worrisome is preserving these files for a number of years, especially if they are to be kept and maintained for decades or longer. I have unfortunately gone through many computers and laptops during my secondary and postsecondary years, and I have lost important files over the years. I finally learned that I should not simply save my documents and files to the computer, and I should start saving them to my e-mail or to a hard drive. I have only been doing this recently, and if only I had done this earlier, I could have had all of my pictures, essays, and all my other documents with me today. So, to ensure my research materials are preserved, I will essentially be taking certain precautions like the ones I mentioned to ensure that these materials would not get lost or destroyed. 

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Week 10 – Researching Comic Books

It took me awhile to figure out which artifact I would like to look at for a research project. With the help of this week’s lecture, I decided that I would like to look at comic books and graphic novels. When Professor Galey talked about close reading of artifacts, it made me think back to my courses that I took a few years ago, which focused on comic books and cartoons. We learned and practiced close reading of these texts, but I never really had the chance to look at texts of my choice. So, I think if I had to focus on artifacts, I would choose comic books. There is a lot that can be taken from these texts, even before opening them, such as the appearance of the text. For instance, one can examine and analyze the size, colours, thickness of the cover and back pages of the comic books, and some really interesting conclusions can be drawn from this analysis.

I realize that a lot of comic books are being published online and in digital format, which is not surprising at all, since everything is becoming digitized nowadays. I think it would be quite interesting to do a close reading and critically analyze comic books and strips in this format. One would not be able to easily analyze the cover and the back of books as done with print texts, yet, there are other aspects to consider. For instance, in terms of reading a comic book online, how many pages can be shown on the computer screen? Can you see the entire page without scrolling down? These are a couple of questions that I would ask if I was researching digital comics, but these would obviously not be relevant if I was looking at comic books in print. Regardless, either format that the comic books are in would be a fascinating research experience! 

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Week 9 – Some Concerns for Research Proposal…

I decided to focus this blog post on one of my concerns for the research proposal, which is deciding on the one method I will be discussing in the proposal. After Jenna Hartel’s lecture on ethnography, I felt that a lot of what I wanted to do related back to this lecture, especially when she talked about the six tenets of ethnography. One tenet that stuck with me afterwards was that “discovery occurs via multiple field methods and is emergent” (Hartel, 2013) and then she provided a list of methods that have been used in ethnographic research. Now, I originally wanted my methods to consist of observations and interviews, which I initially thought of as two separate methods that would produce different kinds of data, yet, Jenna provided both of them in the list, along with a number of other methods. So, this got me questioning whether I should be doing ethnographic research with these methods or not. I looked at the other tenets to see if this is the kind of research I would like to do with my topic in mind. However, the more I think about it, the more fearful I am in using this approach, especially since I am unsure if my topic and research question fits with this approach.

As these ideas and concerns are dwelling in my mind, I find that I am leaning towards to discussing one method in the proposal, which is interviewing. I do not want my methods and methodology to be too complicated, nor would I want the research process to be an inconvenience to those who are involved, specifically the participants. So, I think by keeping it simple and straightforward, it will allow for productive data to come through out of this one method.

Are any of you considering in doing ethnography and discussing this in your proposal? Does anyone have similar anxieties or concerns about using this approach?

Reference

Hartel, J. (2013). Introduction to ethnography [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from University of Toronto Research Methods Blackboard Web site. 

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Week 8 – Statistics

I would like to start off with this post by saying I found Glen’s lecture about statistics and surveys to be quite informative, and I thoroughly enjoyed how he gave examples of bad survey questions. Although some of the examples were amusing, this is a problematic matter, especially when Glen told the class that a couple of them were done by graduate students. This clearly shows that we must be more informed and trained in the research methods that we would like use for our research projects.

Now, in terms of statistics, I learned that these could be great to use, but I find it is dependent on the research topic and question. Also, I find that statistics sometimes come with negative connotations with it because of the complexity and perplexity of them. One of Glen’s slides exemplifies this when he presents many of the complicated terms associated with statistics. These can be overwhelming and intimidating for some people, and thus, may not want to use them for their research. This is actually true for me and so I have not had much experience with statistics, except for the couple of instances where I had to use Census Canada for some projects. However, I used Census Canada awhile ago, and I believe it was for high school projects, and I am certain that I did not use this website or any statistics for that matter in my undergraduate years. A lot of my research in my undergraduate years focused on qualitative methods and data, which I was taught to use in a couple of courses. So, this might be another reason why I have not used statistics extensively.

I find the Minard flow map to be a great example that shows graphs are more than just a representation of numbers. This graph presents a lot of information that is presented in a number of layers. Each layer or set of data clearly defines what they are set to do. For instance, one layer presents the temperatures throughout the context of space and time. Another layer shows the number of soldiers, and how there were more or less in certain time periods and locations. This map cannot simply be examined and analyzed within a short span of time, which I find is also the case for statistics. Even so, the information gathered from such data could be quite enriching and useful for someone’s research.

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Week 7 – The Field of my Research

Jenna Hartel’s lecture on ethnography last week reminded me of my past projects and papers in my undergraduate studies, especially in my third year where I learned about research methodologies. I am not completely certain, but I believe that the professor did talk about ethnographies in one class; however, I am quite sure that we talked about working in the field and doing fieldwork. My fieldwork in my undergraduate years has been situated mainly in children’s homes. However, within the children’s homes, I occupied different areas while doing my research with them. I was sometimes in the kitchen with them, with their parents at times overlooking us, or in the family room. It was essentially their choice and with wherever they felt most comfortable. I find that ensuring their comfort while in the field is important, especially if the subjects are to be greatly involved in the research project. Hartel’s lecture reminded me that it is important to become an insider in the field. I find that this may very well be difficult to do and a major challenge when doing ethnography, especially if I am dealing with subjects that see me as if I could not understand or participate in their culture.

                For the research in this class specifically, the field that I would primarily be in is libraries. As long as there are children and librarians to be my subjects, I do not have a preference to being in a specific type of library. However, it may seem reasonable to narrow it down to a couple of types, especially because I do not want my research to be too broad. Therefore, I may look into public and school libraries. Libraries are essentially the ideal fields for this specific research because much of it entails my first-hand observations of interactions between children and librarians, which will then be used for my fieldwork. Another method that was taken into consideration for this research is carrying out interviews, and I am not too sure about the field and fieldwork regarding this, especially if it is not necessary to do these interviews in the library environment. It would be interesting to do interviews in various fields though and take note of how they might affect the subjects and their answers.

                This blog post was one of the most difficult ones so far, which surprised me at first because I have been briefly introduced to ethnography and fieldwork, but it is completely different when being in an entirely different discipline and with a distinctive research area to explore in.

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