3. What we mean by research

You know what research is, I’m sure. But for this module you really have to demonstrate your research and it’s impact on your work.  Do your research now, you will make better work. Don’t leave it to the CW hand-in!

So what do we mean? The word research literally means ‘to investigate thoroughly’. It refers to a systematic process of inquiry through scientific methods to discover, interpret, revise facts about a given subject or a problem and thereby generate a new body of knowledge.

Look at the definition;

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  • to investigate systematically
  • to discover or verify information for use in (a book, programme, etc)

Synonyms – investigate, study, enquire into, make enquiries into, look into, probe, explore, analyse, examine, scrutinise, inspect, review, assess

These meanings and similar words are what you need to do to evidence the research into the theme, genre and subject matter of your idea.

RESEARCH is the backbone of your project – research gives your work veracity, authenticity and integrity.

A good media producer knows how to use both primary and secondary sources in their work and how to integrate them in a cohesive fashion.

Primary research: Primary research is any type of research that you go out and collect yourself. Examples include surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research. Conducting primary research is a useful skill to acquire as it can greatly supplement your research in secondary sources, such as journals, magazines, or books. You can also use it as the focus of your project. Primary research is an excellent skill to learn as it can be useful in a variety of settings including business, personal, and academic.

Primary research is really important and it’s a great way to gather information for your project. You must carry this out.  The results of can give you:

  • statistics and other data to support your project rationale
  • first-hand information about your subject matter
  • anecdotal evidence that inspires or develops your scripts

There are several ways to conduct primary research interviews  – Face to Face, Phone, Email, Chat/Messaging. In order to get a good response rate it’s often best to carry out a mix of these.

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Secondary research (also known as desk research) involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing publications. So this is existing published work (from news or research publications) that you are using to support the rationale or development of your project.

Secondary research uses outside information from a variety of credible agencies. It’s usually published in pamphlets, newsletters, trade publications, magazines, and newspapers. Secondary sources include the following:

  • Public sources. These are usually free, often offer a lot of good information, and include government departments, libraries and museums (e.g. BARB, RAJAR, OFCOM, BFI, UK ARTS COUNCIL, BBC)
  • Commercial sources. These are useful but may involve a cost and might be biased  (NEWSPAPERS – The Guardian/media, Vice. MEDIA TRADE MAGAZINES – Broadcast, MEDIA WEBSITES like Mashable, Digital Spy).
  • Educational institutions. Really valuable information sources – more research is conducted in colleges, universities, and technical institutes than virtually any other sector. (Use LOCATE to search for research publications)

The above are mainly UK examples, you can of course look at sources from your other countries to support your work.

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This mind map gives you a visual representation of how your subject and genre knowledge should now be developing.

Contextual Rearch:   It’s really important you demonstrate the context of your media project. For media production students this means studying how other artists and producers work to develop your knowledge and understanding. Contextual research here includes analysis of ideas, techniques, style and development, including:

  • Films (you really should be looking at authored (not Hollywood) work at Level 3)
  • TV and radio programmes
  • Other artistic works
  • To what genre, style, form does it belong? What other work, similar in look or content to your own idea, has already been made?
  • What secondary sources have helped your understanding of your subject matter/ theme/ genre? Discuss and analyse these.
  • Once you’ve done this research you need to discuss how you intend to develop your project to say something new or different to what’s gone before.

Remember to attribute and substantiate your work – references/ credits must be included as appropriate. It’s really important that you remember to include the full citation for all original sources you use in your work (using Harvard Reference style)


Critical Analysis: Once you’ve done all your research you need to pull together all your work so far and write a critical analysis of it.  The purpose of this analysis is to carefully examine and evaluate your research . As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts. Examining the different elements is not an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and understand the work as a whole.

So consider;

  • The sources you learnt the most from and how has your understanding of your subject matter/ genre developed?
  • The common themes or threads in the research
  • An interpretation of your statistical data with conclusions
  • An evaluation of the research as a whole and consider what you’ve gained from it. How might this knowledge be used to develop work that is different to what has gone before?
  • A conclusion on what meanings or decisions the research has enabled you to develop or make.

Use this diagram, for a literary essay, to help you structure your own creative analysis:

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Source: http://www.tc.umn.edu

How to write a Critical Analysis presentation

This is an assessed component of CW1.


Further Reading:

Primary research – useful how-to guide

Differences between primary and secondary research – video guide

Why Art & Culture matters – UK Arts Council

UK viewing trendspotting report – BARB (British Audience Research Board)

UK Radio listening report – RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research)

Education/Research reports – BFI (British Film Institute)



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