• For this paper, you will examine the online comments section a media story of your choice. For example, comments in a story posted in a digital newspaper, TikTok comments, You Tube comments, Twitter comments, Facebook comments of a news story , Reddit, or something similar.
• Decide on your research question. Many researchers start with nothing specific in mind (inductive reasoning) or with a very specific idea in mind (deductive reasoning). You could think about looking for signs of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, or body shaming, or body positivity, for example.
o Past researchers have looked for certain themes (i.e., research questions):
what kind of personal information do people share on twitter?
do people believe election results?
do most commenters have a negative view about being overweight?
• You’re going to look for patterns. You should pick a certain kind of story or blog to examine and then read through the comments of that story as well as other similar stories. What patterns can you find?
• 3-4 page (no cover page is necessary)
• margins no more than one inch
• font no larger than 12 point
Your paper should include the following headings (shown in bold).
The first part of your paper should be an introduction to the topic or issue that you will be discussing. Here is also where you’ll describe your methodology – where you gathered your data, from which online sources, and approximately how many comments were read and analyzed.
Once you’ve decided on your topic and research question, and decided on your methodology, you’re going to examine the language of the commenters.
What did you discover? You are looking for patterns.
• Were comments negative or positive?
• Was there a a word or words or term that was used repeatedly?
• Was there underlying racism/sexism/ageism?
• Was there a pattern of topics most commented upon? Giving percentages or counting is expected.
Here is an example:
Researcher Joyce reads the Daily Mail (online gossip paper) every day for a week. She reads every story that relates to Meghan Markle and then examines the “most popular” comments in each story. She finds that 2/3rds of the comments posted each day on each story included racist terms or derogatory comments about Meghan Markle. The finding is that most people who comment on the Daily Mail stories have prejudicial thoughts about Ms. Markle.
In the analysis portion, you look at the patterns found in your findings, and analyze the meanings of these patterns.
• What general conclusions can you make based on your data?
o What might the comments made say about our culture or society?
o What messages are being sent about the writers of the posts?
o How might the comments impact the subjects of the comments (ex: are people being racist, sexist)?
o How might the patterns you discovered impact people reading them on a societal level? (For example, if there are a lot of body positive comments on a TikTok video. might that show that young people are very open to differing body types?)
The last part of your paper should be the conclusion. This is the time to wrap up your ideas and concluding thoughts. Read over your paper completed paper and make sure any point you might have brought up has been resolved, discussed and dealt with in a clear manner.
• Below is a link to a scholarly article (that you may have already read for your annotated bibliography assignment). But I’ve made some handwritten notes on it focusing on how a researcher wrote up her findings, analysis, and conclusions. I think you’ll find this useful. To view the article with Jill’s notes, select Article with Jill’s Notes I have attached Article with Jills Notes in the file section if you need it for resources.
• Please read these three examples of content analysis of documents online (adapted from ReviseSociology.com)
Boepple and Thompson (2014) conducted quantitative analysis of 21 ‘healthy living blogs’. Their sampling frame was only blogs which had received an award, and from those, they selected the blogs with the largest number of page views.
They found that content emphasized appearance and disordered messages about food/ nutrition, with five bloggers using very negative language about being fat or overweight and four invoking admiration for being thin. They concluded that these blogs spread messages that are ‘potentially problematic’ for anyone changing their behavior on the basis of advice contained in them.
Davis et al (2015) conducted an analysis of postings that followed a blog post concerning a cyberbullying suicide of a 15 year old named Amanda Todd. There were 1094 comments of which 482 contained stories about being bullied, 12% about cyberbullying, 75% about traditional bullying, the rest a mixture of both.
The research found that the main reason victims of bullying are targeted is because they do not conform in one way or another to society’s mainstream norms and values, with the most common specific reason for bullying being a victim’s physical appearance.
Humphries et al (2014) conducted content analysis on the kinds of personal information disclosed on Twitter. The authors collected an initial sample of users and they searched friends of this initial sample. In total the collected 101, ,069 tweets and took a random sample of 2100 tweets from this.
One of their findings was that Twitter users not only share information about themselves, they frequently share information about others too.
• Please read this sample paper so you have an idea of how another student completed the paper. To view the sample paper, select Sample Paper Download Sample Paper I have attached a sample paper in the files section.