For this assignment, you are to write a 3-4 page (double-spaced) paper with margins no more than one inch and font no larger than 12 points. No cover page is necessary.
Examine the comments section of digital newspapers, The Daily Mail, TikTok comments, YouTube comments, Twitter comments, Facebook comments, Reddit, or something similar.
1) The first part of your paper should be an introduction to the topic or issue that you will be discussing. Here is where you’ll describe where you gathered your data, from which online sources, and over how long a time period.
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 prejudicial attitudes about heavy people or disabled people, for example. Basically, 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. Is there a pattern? Does it matter the source of the story (Fox News vs. MSNBC)? Past researchers have looked for certain themes (i.e., research questions):
what kind of personal information do people share on twitter?
what are the reasons people are bullied?
do most commenters have a negative view about being overweight?
2) The main portions or the body of the paper should focus on explaining all your findings. You’ll also then discuss your analysis based on these findings.
Once you’ve decided on your topic you’re going to examine the language of the commenters.
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.
Here are some samples of how to organize your findings and your analysis:
Were comments negative or positive?
Was there a pattern of topics most commented upon? Giving percentages or counting is expected.
Was there underlying racism/sexism/ageism?
What messages are being sent about the writers of the posts?
What general conclusions can you make based on your data?
What might the comments made say about our culture or society?
3) The last part of your paper should be the conclusion. This is the time to wrap up your ideas and concluding thoughts.
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 tic to video. might that show that young people are very open to different body types?)
Go back and read your paper and make sure any point you might have brought up has been resolved, discussed, and dealt with in a clear manner.
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