Having identified my media niche, explored its field site, and planned my approach for the auto-ethnographic research project, it was time to conduct some background research. This post aims to achieve two goals that will help progress the project in its coming stages. The first goal being conveyance of a solid understanding of the framework for analysis of data and notes, and the second an exploration of ethical issues that may surround my research, accompanied by a method of management for these issues.
One of the key features of autoethnography is having complete member researcher (CMR) status (Anderson, 2006). A CMR has a close relation to a research group as they belong to it and are capable of a better understanding within that group through their personal experience. Personally, I consider myself being a member of the Like A Version ethnography as I actively engage with content by often ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’, and sometimes commenting on the videos posted on Triple J’s YouTube account. By having CMR status, I hope to be able consider my position within the Like A Version community in order to enhance my own methods of note-taking, these being through interaction with videos and personal reflectivity when viewing new ones.
In my background research I also found out about the importance of observation practices. ‘Certain behaviour is difficult to observe; further, a researcher must have the time, money, and energy to devote to observation and must be allowed to observe by those in the situation of interest’ (Merriam, 2009). While I do not have much money, I feel it is irrelevant in my auto-ethnography study so will disregard that aspect. I do note however, the importance of time, energy, and the need for devotion to the situation of interest as a crucial factor in my research. I consider myself devoted to the topic as it is one of personal interest. Merriam goes on to list important elements that are likely present in any setting, being: the physical setting, the participants, activities and interactions, conversation, subtle factors, and your own behaviour (2009). YouTube accounts do not necessarily allow all of these to be known to other viewers, but I do believe analysis of the participants, activities and interactions, conversation and my own behaviour can all be taken into account when observing data from the YouTube comment section.
Mertens posed the question ‘If qualitative researchers view their purpose as the creation of knowledge or even self-insight, then what are their ethical responsibilities in terms of representation, voice, and credibility? (2014). I believe my research can be purposed as a source of knowledge for musicians and the Triple J producers to develop better understanding of their Like A Version audience, what works and what does not.
My responsibilities first and foremost are to represent the community of viewers fairly and authentically. For this project I will not use anyone’s names, and instead use my own reflective notes when referring to the top comments made by the audience – keeping as true to the original comments as I can. Another way to manage any unethical practise is to give all credit to Triple J and the bands represented within videos, continually reflecting on data and notes collected and viewing them from a non-biased perspective, regardless of any urge to convey my personal opinions and experience when representing them.
ANDERSON, L. 2006. Analytic Auto-Ethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography – J CONTEMP ETHNOGR, 35, 373-395. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2453124/mod_resource/content/1/Leon%20Anderson%20Analytic%20Autoethnography.pdf
MERRIAM, S. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. 2009. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2464747/mod_resource/content/1/Ethical%20Use%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20and%20Findings%20510%20Donna%20M.%20Mertens%20The%20SAGE%20Handbook%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20Analysis.pdf
MERTENS, D. M. 2014. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2464747/mod_resource/content/1/Ethical%20Use%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20and%20Findings%20510%20Donna%20M.%20Mertens%20The%20SAGE%20Handbook%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20Analysis.pdf