My Research Project: Reflection

Hi everyone!

So we’ve finally reached the end of my research project. Over the course of these past few month I like to think I have learned a few things about my research topic, as well as the practise of research in general.

As I have discussed in my previous blog posts, this project started with a curiosity and interest in health and nutrition and why people have varying opinions on what is considered to be healthy. This is ultimately what I decided to base my research project on. As this is a genuine interest of mine, I made sure that I completed my research to the best of my ability, for myself, for my stakeholders and for those who have assisted me in completing my project. I was able to do this through attending the BCM212 lectures, where we discussed the aspects of research and how to ensure your research is ethical and effective.

One topic that we discussed in the lectures is socially responsible research design. In this lecture, we learned about our responsibility to ourselves and to those who are following our research. I made sure I updated my stakeholders on my progress through twitter and through blog posts, as I knew I was responsible for their inclusion in my project. Additionally, I attached a link to my blog and my twitter on the Big Spreadsheet on moodle, where the rest of the BCM212 cohort could access my blog and participate in my survey. In hindsight, I feel I could have posted a few more blogs in order to update my followers more regularly.

When developing my survey and focus group questions, I referred to the Harvard Guide to survey design (2017) and Duke’s focus group guidelines (2005). In doing so, I was able to ensure that my survey questions were concise and easy to understand, focusing mainly on quantitative data. I was then able to go into further detail with my focus group questions, by discussing the epistemological aspects of my survey questions. Additionally, I employed strategies from the Lean Research Guide (2015) to ensure that my research practises were ethically sound. To answer the guide question “How are we designing the informed consent process to ensure that research subjects receive all the information that they need in a way that is understandable to them in order to decide if they wish to participate in the research or not?” (2015) I included a blurb at the beginning of my survey, which briefly described my project and thanked stakeholders for their participation. There was a similar description at the beginning of my focus group.

When conducting my survey, I was unable to gain enough participants in order to collect sufficient data, although I tweeted the link to my survey several times. This issue was later combated in class, when my tutor assisted me in getting my classmates to complete the survey.

The lecture topic I feel I related to the most was flexibility. This is when we discussed how to maintain a good schedule and manage our time to complete our project on time and effectively. Additionally, we discussed risk management strategies and what we would do if our project did not go to plan. Xavier Amatriain’s discussion of managing research in an agile way (2011) goes into detail about planning your project.

I did not run into any significant problems when conducting my research and I did not often find myself completing a significant amount of work within a limited time frame. I was able to stay on time and prioritise my tasks based on importance and what need to be completed in order to move on to the next task. However, I believe I could have organised my time better by creating a schedule that would allow for testing my project, as Amatriain suggests. This would have improved my ability to create an effective survey and thus develop focus group questions that would allow be to better answer my initial research question.

This entire process gave me the essential tools to conduct research in an operative manner. Going through the steps to complete each task on time has helped me to value the importance of planning and managing your time.

All-in-all, this has been a significant learning experience for me, and I believe that the knowledge I have gained – both through experience and retrospection – will assist me in my future endeavours.

Thank you all for sticking with me during this process!

REFERENCE LIST:

Amatriain X 2011, “Managing Research the Agile way” Techno California, Weblog post, 15 March 2011, viewed 31 May 2017 <http://technocalifornia.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/managing-research-agile-way.html>

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University 2015, The Lean Research Framework <https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B36nNXj12OvSMmJhZHRpOHZBMmM/view>

Guidelines for conducting a focus group 2005, <https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf>

Harrison, C 2007, Tip Sheet on Question Wording, Harvard University Program on Survey Research, updated 17 November 2017, viewed 19 April 2017 <http://psr.iq.harvard.edu/files/psr/files/PSRQuestionnaireTipSheet_0.pdf?m=1357530492>

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Information & Health: Research Project Update

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to give you an update on my research project.

When I began this project over a month ago, I decided focus on the topic of health and nutrition. This was due to the fact that I had somewhat of a turnaround when it came to my personal views on nutrition, which became a priority in my life. I was determined to find out whether others have felt the same, and what drives people to decisions. Or, alternatively, why people chose to continue bad habits.

I’ve narrowed down my initial question that I formulated in my research proposal. The question I now intend to answer is:

How does information impact our opinions on health and nutrition?

Through this researc1603w-getty-instagram-food-photoh I am hoping that I will see more of a connection between what we consume on social media and how that influences our behaviour. Especially since showcasing healthy food and fitness regimes on Facebook and Instagram is becoming more prominent within western society.

I have constructed a survey that I will be posting within the next few days, as I am still trying to figure out which website I will use to host my research. I intend to follow that survey with a focus group, which will generate further discussion on this topic and hopefully go into a more detailed analysis of information and health.

When my survey is uploaded I will include a link in this post, as well as post the link on Twitter. Your participation would be deeply appreciated.

I will continue to update my blog as my research progresses so please stick with me if you’re interested!

 

 

Research Project Proposal – Why the nutrition confusion?

Curiosity can lead you to discover aspects about yourself that you didn’t know existed. You may discover passions and interests, as well as interesting things about the world we live in. It is curiosity that changed my perception of health, specifically, my relationship with food. I continually find myself to be curious about nutrition; is it saturated fat that is the enemy, or is it sugar? What kind of information do we have to support these arguments? Why do so many people have different opinions on what is healthy or unhealthy?

Therefore, the question I have formulated for my research is: Why are there so many varying perceptions on nutrition and what role does information play in determining these perceptions?

I aim to gain insight into the food industry and understand why so many people have contradicting opinions about health. I have often come across these contradictions in my own life. Due to my mother being a personal trainer, she is very aware of nutritional information and I often go to her for nutritional advice. She believes that a high protein, high fat, low carb diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to go, thus I tend to lean towards those beliefs myself. However, I have friends who follow a vegan diet, and see public figures promoting a high carb, plant based diet as the optimum lifestyle. So how is there information that promotes both contradicting lifestyles to be correct? What is the source of this information? More importantly, how will this affect the future of public health? Furthermore, I hope to discover what makes an individual a “fanatic” of these lifestyles.

Possible methods that I can utilise to obtain answers to these questions are focus groups or online surveys. I feel that anonymous online surveys would encourage people to be more candid about their nutritional views. I will conduct quantitative research, such as asking participants their gender, age, where they grew up and where they tend to source most of their information. I will then follow that up with qualitative research by going into more detail about their perceptions and understanding of health and nutrition. This information will hopefully allow me to observe patterns and links between the demographic of people and whether that has an impact on their nutritional views.

Additionally, I hope to explore research ethics and how to properly conduct research in a manner that is respectful to participants and their views. Specifically, how to respect opinions that may conflict with my own, and not let my bias opinions shape that way I conduct my research.

Curiosity killed the cat – Or in this case, saved my health.

Hi All!

It’s been a while.

Approximately 6 months since I last did a blog post in fact.

And while many things have stayed constant in my life over the past few months, I like to think that there have been a few positive changes as well.

This week in our BCM212 lecture we were asked to reflect on where curiosity has led us in terms of learning, and the first thing I thought of was my health. Before you roll your eyes and tune out, this is not a blog post where I brag about my vast health improvements – as much as I would like to brag, I know that it’s not what people want to hear.

Being that last year was my first year of Uni and I spent that first year on campus, my health pretty much went down the drain – which is pretty typical of first year students living away from home. My new found independence lead to some poor decisions and several kilograms gained, and it took me a year to realise that enough was enough.

My curiosity essentially led the charge, taking me to various health websites and all of the food documentaries that Netflix has to offer. I learned so much about the food industry and the misinformation that is perpetuated and believed by the public. And while I would like to share all of that information with you, that is not really the point of this post so I encourage you to find out for yourself.

To sum up, my health has improved and I’m finally back to where I started, for now anyway. I’ve learned that curiosity is a powerful tool that allows us to absorb information and perhaps find new passions.

If it weren’t for that burst of curiosity all of those months ago, my chubby, miserable alter-ego would probably still be here.

And I’m so glad she’s gone.

Crossover Cinema: A Hybrid Culture

 

Crossover cinema is used to encapsulate an emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualization and production and hence manifests a hybrid cinematic grammar at the textual level, as well as crossing over in terms of its distribution and reception’ (Khorana, 2013)

This idea of ‘Crossover cinema’ has allowed audiences to enhance their understanding of other cultures, through the inclusion of their own cinematic culture as well as others. The representation of diaspora through mainstream media and diasporic media allows those communities to maintain links to their origin whilst increasing their connection to the industrialised worlds and enhancing their confidence in different social situations. Although various positive outcomes exist when it comes to crossover cinema, it may also have a negative impact on an audience’s perception of another culture.

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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is a prominent example of crossover cinema in Western culture. It is seen as an authentic representation of slum life in India from a Western perspective. “Slumdog Millionaire…literally crossed over to the main (nonforeign) group…The film’s cross-cultural affiliations no longer rendered it foreign, and this is an important indicator of its crossover production, content, and appeal.” (Khorana, 2013) The film’s director, Danny Boyle, is of British origin, which seemingly undermined the authenticity of the Indian life, as it contained large amounts of British influence and showed a mostly negative perspective of the Indian culture.

Essentially, whilst crossover films can have a negative impact on the way other cultures are perceived, intercultural communication and understanding can be improved through accurate representation and thus enhance the lives of diasporic communities.

References:

Khorana. S, 2013, ‘Crossover cinema: a conceptual and genealogical overview’, University of Wollongong Research Online, viewed 3 September 16 <http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2020&context=lhapapers>

Internationalising Education.

internationstudent.jpgThe globalisation of education is vital to the Australian economy and international relationships. International education can strengthen the ties between Australia and other countries, which assists our trade relationships as well as our understanding of global issues and our worldwide reputation.

Despite this importance, international students face a plethora of issues in regards to the exchange process and cultural experiences. “A crucial element in the achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment.” (International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, 2007, pg. 2) This is made difficult due to the existence of a condescending attitude towards those who study internationally, where people assume that those who are not fluent in the English language lack intelligence, or are weak or helpless.

In reality, “studies suggest that many international students prior to coming to Australia have spent many years learning to speak English and thus enter the country unaware of the extent to which local accents, fast speech and Australian colloquialisms…” (International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, 2007, pg. 3) While international students are perfectly capable of speaking English in a formal sense, it’s the detachment from culture that gives off the impression of unintelligence.

This ultimately generates anxiety and uncertainty amongst international students. This attitude may deter individuals from studying in Australia or even in other countries, and thus damage the Australian economy and current international relationships. In order to prevent this demise, the perception of international students’ needs to change.

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Group of Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation

These students are required to be motivated and empowered in order to succeed in a different cultural environment, hence they should be perceived for their reality, as opposed to what is assumed.

References:

Kell. P, Vogl. G, 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, pg. 2-3

Global Film: The Nollywood Industry

In Western culture, a Global film is considered to be a production that is not made in the major western countries, such as the UK, the US, Canada, etc. The emergence of global film industries, such as Nollywood and Korean films, have contributed to the increasing globalisation of film.

Nollywood

Beginning in the early 1990’s, Nollywood has become the second largest film industry in the world, producing over 2000 films a year. These films are relatively low budget, thus producing fairly low quality films that are released straight to video, rather than being released in a cinema. This is due to the feeling of insecurity amongst Nollywood audiences, as there is a lack of safety outside of the home.

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These films have become vital to the economic and social growth of Nigeria as well as Africa as a whole, as it has become a cultural phenomenon amongst local audiences. While it has not entirely popularized itself outside of Africa, the production themes and characters have become central to the representation of local audiences in cinematic productions. “While there is no doubt that Nollywood exhibits the hybrid character that is obvious in many forms of African popular arts, it is its acute notation of locality that gives it an unprecedented acceptability as the local cinematic expression in Nigeria and indeed in Africa.” (Okome, 2007) The uniqueness of the production of Nollywood films provides a deeper insight to the Nigerian culture than would otherwise be visible in western culture.

These films ultimately generate a sense of community amongst the creators and audiences of Nigerian cinema, thus allowing it to thrive as a film industry.

References:

Okome. O, 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, Postcolonial Text, Vol 3, No 2, viewed 4 September 16 < http://postcolonial.univ-paris13.fr/index.php/pct/article/viewFile/763/425>

Sol Lewitt: Instruction and Procedural Action

In the case of conceptual art, the essence of the work is in the ideas or the concepts rather than the completed work. These concepts allow the artist to express the true meaning of their work through execution, as opposed to the meaning being dictated by the final product. The art of instruction is the leading technique for artist, Sol Lewitt, who is notorious for his instructional pieces, specifically his ‘Wall Drawing’ collection.

“LeWitt believed the idea itself could be the work of art, and maintained that… an artist should be able to conceive of a work and then either delegate its actual production to others or perhaps even never make it at all.” (The Art Story Foundation 2012)

The process of instruction and procedural action was a key contributor to Lewitt’s impact in the world of conceptual art. He used this process to emphasise the idea that the concepts behind the creation of a work can exist at their own art form. Lewitt’s ‘Wall Drawings’ series was the catalyst for this process, and thus his work in conceptual art, as he used written instructions in order to produce his work and dictate it to others. These instructions would be provided to either and individual or an organisation who purchased Sol Lewitt’s work, as opposed to receiving the completed artwork, for which they were to complete themselves. The instructions that were used to execute his work exist as part of the artwork, rather than a means of reaching the final product.

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In order to maintain his artistic principles throughout his collection, the instructions that were set were to be followed as intended. While each completed work had varying interpretations of the instructions, those that diverged from the instructions were unable to be included as a part of the series, as they weren’t entirely connected to Sol Lewitt’s concepts. To ensure these artworks remained authentic to Sol Lewitt’s ideas, he would oversee the execution of the piece. This process still continues regardless of his death in 2007, with a representative of Lewitt taking his place in the installation process.

All of Lewitt’s Wall Drawings were intended to display his artistic aesthetic. The style he adopted through his introduction to conceptual art was based around mathematical principles, heavily involving lines and shapes, as well as bold colours. This style was vital for others to adopt in order to participate in the movement.

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However, these ‘Wall Drawing’ instructions exist as a demonstration that no individual processes instructions in the same way as others, as “each person draws a line differently and each person understands words differently.” (Searle 2006) While the instructions were to be followed closely, they did not specify what materials the executer had to use, allowing them to have the freedom to create a unique piece. This ultimately proves that while instructions may lead an individual in a certain direction, each person is able to show their individuality through procedural action.

“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” (Lewitt, 1967)

The final sentence in this statement by Lewitt can be compared to the creation of digital art in most recent years. The ability to create art using technology follows the same process of providing instruction and processing these tasks in order to create the piece. The encoding and decoding of instructions will differ depending on the type of technology used to create the piece, similar to the varying interpretation of individuals to produce unique work.

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The conceptual art movement changed the way we perceive art and the artistic process. The emphasis on the importance on the process and ideas behind the work paint a more complete picture of the meaning of the work itself. The processes that are present in Sol Lewitt’s artistic techniques, along with society’s technological advances, have shaped the way artists produce their work and have allowed for new forms of art to develop.

References:

Smith, E.S. 2009, Reinstallation, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Blackbird Archives, viewed 15 August 16 < http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v8n1/gallery/smith_e/lewitt_541.shtml >

Searle, A.S. 2006, Second Thoughts, The Guardian, viewed 15 August 16 < https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2006/dec/07/2 >

N.D. Sol Lewitt Biography, Art and Analysis of Works, The Art Story, viewed 15 August 16 < http://www.theartstory.org/artist-lewitt-sol.htm >

Lewitt, S.L. 1967, Artform (Paragraphs on Conceptual Art), International Arts and Culture, viewed 15 August 16 < http://sfaq.us/2011/11/sol-lewitt-on-conceptual-art-1967/ >

 

 

Someday.

Much like the character I created, I’m not very spiritual. However, when I looked at Holly’s photographs, the atmosphere of her location felt very spiritual and heavenly, so I decided to explore the spiritual aspect of child loss. I came up with the idea after recently watching The Help, which touched on the issue of miscarriages.

My research mainly consisted of blog posts of women discussing their experiences and spiritual connections, which I used both and research and inspiration for my story. The major plot point in my story was inspired by Lorna Tedder, who talked about seeing her unborn children in her dreams and through meditation.

“I’ve recently been introduced to several shamans…They urge women who are facing untimely or unwanted pregnancies – not always the same thing – to go into a meditation and talk to the soul who wants to come through as a new baby.” (Lorna Tedder, 2010)

Additionally, the opening scene of No Country for Old Men, where the Coen Brothers displayed scenic still shots with a voice-over introducing the characters and the storyline, was the style I wanted to achieve.

I used a sound piece that contain diegetic, ambient sounds along with musical tones in order to convey the environment as well as the spiritual atmosphere of the locality and the experience.

The Social Media Mask.

While it may not be true that everyone who projects themselves on social media are fake, they may adopt differing personas in order to portray the best version of themselves to an audience, essentially masking their true attributes.

The idea of the “Social Media Mask,” can be applied to the life of social media personality, Essena O’Neill.

 

Essena O’Neill, an Instagram and YouTube star, recently caused a stir when she revealed that she was quitting social media, saying that the online world is “fake.”

When creating content and documenting her life, Essena donned a mask that hid her true feelings towards the world she was caught up in, claiming that she was actually miserable when she tried to come across as positive.

“Everything I was doing was edited, and contrived and to get more value. To get more views…” (Essena O’Neill, 2015)

We use social media to convey the best versions of ourselves to gain approval from friends, family and even strangers.

However, does this mean we’re all fake?

Or do these personas become a part of who we are in reality?