Course: Digital Media Research (SIMM34)
We offer a range of perspectives and methods on how to understand and critically analyse digital media production, content and everyday practices. This course offers an introduction to digital media research methods, emphasising the significance of reliable, valid and situated research in a critical study of digital environments. These environments include a wide range of contexts from business, public service and non commercial spaces, the architecture and content of participatory cultures, social media and social activism, and digital socialities.
Our guiding approach on this course is that digital media research methods matter to a critical study of digital environments. The course focuses on combining empirical qualitative research with critical social and cultural theories in order to emphasise how the digital media researcher uses, adapts and critically reflects on methods and concepts to research problems or questions.
The intellectual structure for the course is based on qualitative multi-methods within digital media. There are three specific methods we focus on in the craft of digital media research. The first method includes production studies, specifically the method of production interviews within the context of the architecture of digital media production. This method is useful for institutional analysis of professionals, amateurs and practitioners where one to one interviews are necessary for understanding inside a digital production culture. The second method is qualitative text analysis of social media analysis, including the qualitative analysis of Facebook and Twitter for selected case studies. This is useful for an analysis of small scale social interaction using these platforms as a means of digital communication. The third method includes aesthetics and communicative form of digital media content, specifically visual images, and the embedding of images in the digital environment. Visual methodology is useful for studying selected samples of digital texts and representations in a range of content, from mobile media to You Tube videos. These three social science methods are connected to key concepts of media industries and professional practices, media and social relations, and critical social optics.
We offer a perspective on the methods that is pragmatic and experiential, constructing the act of doing research as a valuable resource to draw on in this course. The knowledge you will gain from this course is practical, and in the final part of the course you will apply a selection of specialist methods in a group project. The foundation of theories and concepts that you learn in the first half of the course will build confidence in designing a project and applying the specialist methods in a real world case study. This is a short, intensive course that gives you the methods toolkit for designing and conducting research on digital media environments.
Our course is aimed at a diverse range of international postgraduate students who wish to study digital media research methods for the purposes of conducting empirical research for Masters theses, and also for professional skills in digital media methods for careers beyond postgraduate education.
Student Endorsements for Digital Media Research
"The course Digital Media Research SIMM34 is a really well-designed method course, with a cutting-edge content. It provides students with a multi-methods approach to be used as a practical tool for qualitative research. The focus on digital media also gives many possibilities for students to conduct a situated research that can be contextualized within the digital media environment, and combining it with related critical social and cultural theories. Speaking from my personal experience, the course provided me with a unique chance to work in collaboration with the Skissernas Museum, that supported our research with a rich empirical case: the art exhibition The Weather War. The multi-methods approach that we learned in the course allowed us to examine the case from both an institutional level of professionals understanding inside the digital production, as well as the audience level of the aesthetics and communicative forms of the visual performance of the digital context. I would warmly recommend this course to anyone who are interested in doing media research and analysis, in particular in digital environments.”
'Through emphasising the practical application of research methods applicable to digital media environments, Digital Media Research provides an excellent opportunity to develop your competencies as a researcher in the twenty first century. The course is well structured, beginning with an introduction to specific research methods, followed by a hands-on group research project, and concluding with a reflective essay where students relate the methods used to broader theoretical and methodological concerns. The course is both challenging and rewarding, and a course that I absolutely recommend!'
'If you want to get deep into the understanding of how digital media production works and how to conduct a digital media production research, I would recommend this course. The course provides multi-methods approaches which are very useful and insightful to analyze the case critically. The students would also have opportunities to get different perspectives from other students because of the discussion which arises in the class and the group work.'
'Taking the SIMM 34 Digital Media Research course was a great addition to my academic toolbox. The course gives a nice overview of relevant methods and encourages us to analyze the research material with a critical lens. The biggest strength to this course is the opportunity to work directly and so deeply with the methods. The time we were able to spend applying the these methods and getting constructive feedback on the process from our instructors gave us the empirical experience necessary to feel confident working with these methods in the future. Would recommend this course to those looking for useful knowledge and skill-building on qualitative research methods in the digital context.'
'The course Digital Media Research introduces us to the magic world of Digital Media. The informative lectures provide us with classic theories and methodologies. The workshops and group work give us chance to apply theories to practice. From visual methodologies to producer interviews, from denotation to connotation, we learn to critically reflect on the philosophies and methods when conducting our empirical research.'
'I have really enjoyed the Digital Media Research course because it has given me a better grasp of our digital world. During the course we have studied interesting case examples and theoretical concepts that inform digital media practices, and this have helped deepen my practical experience in choosing the appropriate qualitative method of analysis in order to arrive at a deeper and more complex understanding of digital media phenomena. One thing I really loved about the course is supervised seminars, where our course leaders Annette Hill and Tobias Olsson introduced us to a process of ’learning by doing’ where we had room for making mistakes and learn from each other during our group projects. I found these seminars very effective because they have enabled me to develop skills in research design and applying analytical tools/concepts.'
'The course in Digital Media Research not only allowed me to put my background in Art History to good use, but also showed me the full strength of doing multimethod research. For the group assignment, we did a case study at Skissernas Museum and our supervisor guided us through the design process and contributed with crucial connections of her own. Skissernas Museum was very welcoming and helpful which highly contributed to the success of the project. It has been my strongest piece of research at Lund University so far and is thematically definitely something I will continue investigating within my studies here!'
'As a student, future researcher, and (hopefully) reflexive citizen, I am delighted to have worked so closely with the Skissernas Museum on this project. The course in Digital Media Research Methods, like many of Annette Hill’s courses, pushes us to put to put our knowledge of methods to the test in real ways, and the experience therein is truly invaluable in assembling our “methods toolboxes” (to borrow her words)! It’s even more meaningful when given the opportunity to collaborate with an institution like Skissernas, seeing as they not only engaged the community through this critically thought-provoking exhibition, but welcomed us and were available throughout the process to support our research. This project has energized me to continue seeking collaborative research opportunities as such, and has also let me hoping for another chance to work with Skissernas again in the future.'
'The course in Digital Media Research has proven to be a rewarding experience as it encouraged us to apply methods we learned during the course in practice. As a group, we conducted a case study on the temporary exhibition The Weather War at Skissernas Museum. Thanks to the help and support given to us both by our course leaders and the museum staff, we were able to use a multi-method approach, which gave us useful insights into the symbolic power that art holds to broaden the discussions around the human-nature relationship.'
‘Based on my first year of studying at Lund University, Digital Media Research was one of my favourite courses that I took. The topic of the course is highly relevant to the nature of today’s media landscape. Having worked as a media professional dealing with digital environments on a daily basis prior to pursuing postgraduate studies, numerous concepts and ideas were immediately relatable - such as the role of producers or the power of images. It has allowed me to enrich my knowledge and reflect back on previous experiences from a different perspective that I’ve never thought of before.
As this is primarily a methods course, it has also extended my personal toolkit in conducting meaningful research for the future. The course ensured that I’m proficient in the craft of digital media research from all appropriate angles, from the importance of reflexivity, purposeful application of methods, to ethical research. These valuable intangibles, among many other important takeaways, were planted into my train of thought seamlessly and unobtrusively, hence creating a lasting impression that will no doubt stay with me for the rest of my academic career.
Furthermore, a lot of positives can be said about the quality of instruction in this course. The instructors were clearly proficient in creating a course structure that’s cohesive with concrete learning outcomes. At the start there seemed a lot of work, but by the end of the course everything fell into place and made sense. And I believe that's what anyone could expect from a great and meaningful course.’
‘The Digital Media Research course moves away from the strictly theoretical and into a hands-on approach to methods. The course leaders are tremendously experienced and are able to provide the students with concrete examples through their research and guide us to have a better understanding of how to use the selected methods. The course also provides a safe space for actually conducting research using the studied methods, giving the students invaluable experience that will undoubtedly assist in future research. I most definitely recommend this course to anyone who is interested in the many possibilities that digital media research provides and wants to roll up their sleeves and put methods to practice.’
Digital Media Research is a comprehensive course, offering two main methods in it’s teachings, aesthetic analysis and production interviews. It provides more specialist methods, focused on researching digital media. This is a focus that I personally experience as often overlooked, but the course managed to provide great insight into these methods. A main point of the course was also emphasizing the benefits of doing multi-methods research, combining methods in a single project.
The main course leaders, Annette Hill and Tobias Olsson, both provide their own perspective on the methods, constructing valuable sources of experience for the students to draw on. Centered on the practical, the final part of the course offers students to apply the methods in a project, but not before offering a stable foundation of theory in the first half, which personally made me feel confident in applying the methods in the group project. Being short but comprehensive, the time invested in the course did supply me with great tools when looking at digital material through a number of different angles. It is a clear and pragmatically centered course, which, for me, made the methods easy to assimilate, but challenging and rewarding to apply in reality.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to explore qualitative methods that are useful when undergoing digital media research. I found the course challenging, yet clear and concise with its structure and outcomes. At the completion of the course, I developed a keen interest in semiotic analysis - something that was completely knew to me!
As the course concerns digital media research, I was able to see how the methods taught would be useful not only in future research but when working within a range media fields. Additionally, many of the readings required involved social cultural topics, such as power, and having these concepts intertwined with the methods kept things very interesting.’
‘This course helped me have a comprehensive understanding of digital media by conducting a quality empirical research. The research methods which focus on producers and contents feed quite well into the audience research course and enable students to have a holistic understanding of media content from its production to the circulation and reception.
The group works in the course helped me understand how the diverse digital media contents can be analyzed using various research methods. The complexities of the digital media technology and the differences in culture and context has also been discussed using digital ethnography as an alternative method. In addition to providing multiple research methods to study the producers and contents of the digital media, the course also provides conceptual tools such as form and power to analyze contents and how they are influenced and shaped by different levels and forms of power relations. As we all go further to the age of deep ‘mediatization’ and ‘mediation’, this course will help me be critical and more reflexive in the way I use, watch and engage with digital media in its multiple forms.’
‘The course offers a good introductory insight into qualitative research methods used within the digital media environment. It focuses on the practical side of research, where we look into a number of empirical case studies in class that are combined with critical social and cultural theories. Lively class discussions are highly encouraged. Towards the end, the course allows us to thoroughly reflect on our knowledge of multimethod research after applying them to an actual research project.’
‘Digital Media Research was a great opportunity for hands-on methods practice. You learn from lecturers with professional, real life experience and you get to work together with your classmates in producing genuine research using new methods.
‘Digital Media Research is a hands on methods course in which we practiced research in seminars interwoven with the lectures and in one bigger group project. We did methods instead of just reading about them. The group work was supervised in a very helpful way and the feedback after the presentation was a really valuable evaluation of the project. I think we all learned a lot by doing the project as a group work, because of all the discussions and different interpretations which naturally arose.
The course was rounded off by an essay in which we individually were given the opportunity to reflect upon the group work and on the methods used more theoretically. I can highly recommend this course if you are interested in trying aesthetic analysis and/ or production interviews connected to digital media.’