I have to recommend this little tip sheet for those who wish to publish acacemic papers in the social sciences. I am one of them and often times I found myself facing a dilemma about how to position or frame an idea. If you agree that a paper usually tells a story – then it is an important decision to frame the story, as an idea could be told in a zillion different ways. Usually I have to choose between the “phenomena” and the “theory”. No matter what decision I make it risks losing one part of the audience as a result of the frame. Ezra Zuckerman calls the “row” (phenomena) and “column” (discipline or theory) problem and usually one cannot aim for both.
I tend to go with the “phenomena” approach when I write, because it is the social phenomena that interest me fundementally. I care less about theory – which is supposed to be the truth about how the world works. But usually we see researchers change their theories (often too quickly) to suit the phenomena and empirical evidences they study. I don’t think highly of that approach either. If theories are just means to “interpret” the empirical evidences, then they lose their most important function – to predict the unknown. In that case, we are not doing research any more – we are no more than investigative journlaists who cannot write as well but may have some fancy statistical skills.
So the “row and column” way of looking at article-writing is the central point he made in the tip sheet. As a consequence of the researcher’s decision to go with the “phenomena” or “theory”, other decisions follow. The whole list can be found here.
At this ICA I will be presenting a poster, for the very first time. Usually poster is a format widely used in scientific disciplines, but social science conferences start to have poster sessions recently to save time, including the ICA and Sunbelt. I think some studies can actually be explicated better by posters rather than by traditional verbal presentations.
Since I am a newbie of this presentation format, I googled about how to make a good poster and found some really interesting articles. The most comprehensive, and funny, guide of scientific poster making could be found here. Although it says “scientific” posters, most of the advice are equally applicable to non-science posters as well.
I haven’t been very diligent in updating my research blog recently …. well, because it took much more time than I had thought to write intelligent blog posts. But it seems that I will be doing that more often in the next three months because I will be doing a lot of reading and blogging about them helps to organize thoughts.
Yes, in case you are wondering, I am finally going to take qualifying exam somewhere this September. The preparation, as well as the exam itself, will be a great opportunity to read, re-read, and organize stuff that I care about. I am excited.
Besides reading, I will also be doing ASIMS, which is a fabulous workshop on research methods, hosted by the Annenberg School at USC. Both USC and Penn students will join the two week workshop. I am tentatively in for categorical analysis and multi-level analysis. Sounds like great fun.
I am also presenting at the annual ICA conference at Montreal from May 21-26:
Shen, C. & Monge, P. (2008, May). Power asymmetry and network structure in Open Source community. Paper presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Montreal, Canada.
Shen, C. & Fulk, J. (2008, May). Ecological dynamics of online communities. Paper presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Montreal, Canada.
This year’s ICA has a lot of interesting sessions and panels. Besides, it is also time to reunite with old friends (a lot of them!) and make new ones. Can’t wait! 🙂
Thanks my fellow Annenberg introvert Trav for sending me Jonathan Rauch’s article “Caring for your introvert”. Yes, there is another sad hegemony there in our daily social life.
And there is an interesting cultural element too. When I came to the US I started to notice that this is defnitely not a good place for introverts to live. In China, where people are not supposed to speak a lot in classes, being an introvert is okay, still not too good. But in the US where people are judged by what they speak, being an introvert is absolutely awful.
I know it has been a while since I posted the last entry. School is back in full swing and my time is devoted to three classes, two TA discussion sections, and two regular research group meetings. Apart from that, I am also doing four reseach projects and serve as a project manager for ~10 people working for our NSF project right now. All of the above really excite me, but I feel it is a bit difficult for me to keep up with what are going on in the research community….Therefore I am substituting reading notes for “serious” blog entries, but those reading notes are equally thoughtful.
This week and the past week we discussed CMC and group processes in my 641 class.
Postmes, T., Spears, R. & Lea, M. (2000). The formation of norms in computer-mediated communication. Human Communication Research, 26, 341-371
Motivation of study
- Previous models of social influences of social construction are inadequate in specifying precisely what exerts influence.
- S ocial construction is a dynamic reciprocal process, which is not accurately captured by rather static operationalizations.
A social identity approach
- Is context-sensitive, because different situations make different social identities salient
- SIDE model: mediated group can develop and follow group norms even if they are visually anonymous.
- Social identity is constantly negotiated through group interaction. This approach allows for the observation of the emergence and development of group norms.
Group norms in CMC setting
- CMC groups will have more consistencies of interaction content and form within groups than between groups. (Supported).
- Group norms (in terms of interaction content and form) will be amplified and accentuated over time. (Partially supported for interaction content, but not form).
- Group norms will influence communication within the group but not outside of the group. (Supported).
- Groups were defined as clusters of participants with minimal distance (reciprocal message) in a distance matrix, not based on interaction content/style. Although it is shown that there are significant differences of interaction content and style between groups, the researchers didn’t report within-group differences (individual interaction content and styles) and neither did they compare them with between-group differences.
- Nothing is known about their prior interaction history. Social norms may have been migrated from other groups formed earlier than this stats course, which could severely undermine the validity of the findings. This actually could explain why interaction style was not amplified over time.
- The last hypothesis test was not very convincing. Communicating with staff (outgroup) may not necessarily be considered as changing the social context at all. Yes the audience is different, but the social context and group identity may remain the same. It would be interesting to compare people’s interaction content/style with the staff among the same group members.
- Researchers didn’t find that interaction styles were amplified over time through group processes. To what extent could individuals develop interaction styles and maintain them in group processes? As we spend more and more time using CMC, how do group processes interact with our individual “style”?
- (General question) From this article and other CMC research to date, what are the different perspectives to understand the group processes in CMC? How do we reconcile the differences of research findings? What factors and boundary conditions should be considered?
- (General question) what are the differences between CMC and FtF? When is CMC more/less beneficial than FtF?
- Considering ecological validity, what are the general methodological challenges of CMC research? What method or combination of methods is good to study CMC?
- Finally, with the advent of new communication technology and people’s growing comfort of using them, is it accurate to refer to CMC as if it is unitary?