research project self-reflection

In this task I learnt that conducting research is as iterative as any other type of project. The philosophy of ‘fail early, fail often’ guided and reassured me through my research journey. I found my first topic idea developed into something better and more important to research after discussions with my tutor. My first survey also failed, while my second survey was received much better. From this I learnt that simplicity can be lost when there’s too many questions with too many completion rules. I also learnt that some questions, generally the ones requiring more detail, are not suitable for written responses and instead should be used in interviews.

From the evolution of my project and as a consequence of engaging in other people’s projects, I learnt of the value that interviews can bring in addition to that of the survey. Though I did not have time to conduct any myself, after being an interview respondent in another project I know the depth of my findings would be much richer if I had.

This research project also helped me to subvert my own expectations about research trends. Before I began this process I struggled to identify with many of the people who would soon become my respondents. I could not have predicted the results to be as strongly skewed in the way that they were as my current situation does not align in that direction. Thus, this project helped me shed my preconceived expectations which will prove to be a valuable skill in future research undertakings.

Another key component of the research process is the concept of gaining ‘insights’ when analysing the research data and pulling everything together. These insights helped me to formulate the basis of my opinion article so that it had weight and brought value to readers. In the future I will design my surveys and interviews to be optimised for gaining clear, key insights that truthfully represent the survey responses as an end result.

To surmise, the process of research I undertook for my BCM212 project taught me key aspects of research that I would not truly understand just from reading about them in a textbook. I learnt how to be adaptive and perceptive, as well as how to dig deeper for clarity and richness in future research pursuits.

Provider brings moral-cavalry to the future of Aged Care

This feature article is the final instalment of my PR Writing Miniseries.


QPS Benchmarking’s reporting is more effective than ‘gaming the system’ under new quality indicators, recent enquiry demonstrates.

The Aged Care industry. We like to imagine it as a place of graceful twilight years; the cookie jar always full. Amanda Smith, owner of Apex Aged Care, is confronted with the hard truth each day; Aged Care is a business. Figures. Facts. And now, audits.

The Australian Government’s July 2019 introduction of a compulsory National Quality Indicator Program has codified patient care into a series of audits. These laws were introduced following the ongoing Royal Commission. Though the intentions of the program are benevolent, they put extra strain on the already fatigued providers.

At a recent industry conference, Smith witnessed another provider’s admissions to gaming the system by ‘cherry-picking’ prospective residents. These divisive moves motivated by self-preservation. Smith herself confesses, she cannot stomach such actions.

‘The right way’

Smith sought an alternative to keep in-step with her competition—one which maintains unwavering patient care. She works with the General Manager of QPS Benchmarking, Adam Holcroft, and his skilled team to implement their new National Quality Indicator app.

“Adam makes me feel confident that I am doing right by my staff and our patients. He and his team are responsive and highly knowledgeable about the system; which is why Apex can balance the increased busywork with actual patient care. Absolutely no compromises in sight,” Amanda said.

Cloud-based and tablet compatible, the QPS Benchmarking app utilises a simple data-input workflow that saves time. The required reports are automatically transferred to the My Aged Care portal, no extra effort needed. 

“Backed by rigorous research, the app streamlines the complicated and makes ‘doing the right thing’ easy,” explained Holcroft to Smith.

QPS Benchmarking’s cutting-edge solution ensures Smith does not have to be subversive to tackle the industry changes and still come out on top. By auditing in the right way, Smith has the knowledge at her fingertips to improve for the sake of patient betterment.

Hard work. Caring hearts. Improved care. Accuracy and compliance. It’s Amanda Smith’s mission for Apex Aged care. It’s QPS Benchmarking’s vision for the future of the Aged Care Industry.  

Find out more about QPS Benchmarking here.

Internal reports failing? QPS Benchmarking can help!

This is another corporate blog post and the third instalment in my PR Writing miniseries. I also tried my hand at writing an infographic in this post.


QPS Benchmarking knows Australian healthcare organisations struggle with a lack of precision in their reporting. The good news is: we love reports. Our reports are accurate and effective—thanks to our meticulous and all-important data cleansing system.

“A HUGE thanks to you and your team for the benchmarking results… they were really clear and gave a good indication of where we are.”

– Manager, Aroha Care Centre

The path to information-based decision making.

Data cleansing is the process of revising or removing inaccurate, incomplete or irrelevant items found within datasets.

The removal of these ‘dirty’ items is the most crucial part of the QPS Benchmarking journey. Without this process, company data is disorganised, unsafe and inexact; a detriment to making sound management decisions.   

Clients using our reports are backed by a data cleansing system which emphasises validity, reliability and accuracy. This process ensures clients have the highest quality information at their fingertips, guaranteeing increased productivity and better successes.

Our data cleansing makes us unique. 

To maintain our superior standards, we use a unique three stage process…

Healthcare providers wishing to enjoy the benefits of our data cleansing processes can find more details about our services here.

Exposed: QPS Benchmarking is secret weapon for healthcare industry success

This corporate blog post is the second instalment in my PR Writing Miniseries.


To lead the market, you need to be able to beat the market.

Benchmarking—provided by our Wollongong-based company, QPS Benchmarking—is crucial in achieving a competitive advantage within the healthcare industry.

We supply Australian clients with next-generation performance measurement and industry comparison. Our tools help clients understand their industry position: where their healthcare business is thriving, and what needs improvement to push ahead of the competition. 

“…the QPS Focused Benchmarking Network has been a value-adding component to our Quality program.”

– Anne Crouch, Eye Tech Day Surgery.

Our trusted services are designed with the client in mind.

QPS Benchmarking provides high-tech reporting with custom key performance indicators that are relevant to each client. These reports innovate the board-room experience as they provide easy-to-understand, actionable and authoritative data.

Our advanced services transform client operations by achieving efficiencies in regulation-compliance and risk management. This allows our clients to work smarter—not harder—when working to achieve organisational objectives.

Benchmarking is also financially rewarding. In helping our clients improve their healthcare provision, we secure patient preference and repeat visits. By ensuring compliance with legal-requirements we also assist clients in avoiding hefty fines and sanctions. 

Summitcare wins the Gold Award at the ‘Australian Business Excellence Awards’, thanks to their work with QPS Benchmarking.

We care about our client’s end users.

When we help our clients successfully maintain quality and service, their patients can feel the victory too. The betterment of the organisation means the improvement of every life touched, making for the ultimate customer satisfaction.

mock factsheet for data science company (QPS Benchmarking)

This is the first instalment in my PR Writing mini-series.

In my PR Writing class, we conducted a mock-project for a local data science company. In this post I feature the factsheet I made for Assessment 1. Factsheets are documents that provide key information about an organisation to their stakeholders in an easily digestible format.

To be clear, this task was about writing a lot of information in a clear and succinct manner. I am not a graphic design major and did my best in this regard.

an examination of redundancy in the student experience

The world has descended into crisis; pandemic has a choke-hold on the lives of billions. Leaders must decide the fate of nations—how to save a dying economy, a dying population, and a dying way of life.

As Australia shuts down, a generation of university students must begin to tread unknown waters. The shift to online classes is a minor inconvenience compared to the imminence of unemployment. Whilst rent and other bills remain the same, income for young people is stifled.

As a university student, one of my biggest worries is money. How much money will I earn this week? How much money will I spend this week? Where can I save? And why did I just blow my whole pay cheque on a shopping-spree?

Now, with no income, job prospects or eligibility for welfare payments in the face of this crisis, my worries have trebled; and I don’t have to look far to see these concerns echoed by my peers.

I see my reality reflected in the work of Williams and Oumlil (2015). They note that vulnerable groups such as students are more likely to be financially excluded from mainstream financial service provision. This lack of resource access is compounded by irregular income; consequently increasing a university student’s vulnerability to external financial shocks and uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am interested in learning about other university student’s spending practices and how they have changed since the switch to remote learning and social isolation. Do these students have redundancy plans in place? What happens to those who do not?

The question I propose is twofold: how do university students spend and save? Are these habits adequate to survive a global crisis, such as the COVID19 pandemic?

An informal, exploratory poll I designed for Twitter yielded the following results:


Though not conclusive, the results of the poll demonstrate that students may be very concerned about their money amidst the current crisis. Yes, a large 38% of respondents are ‘somewhat confident’ about staying afloat financially over the coming months, but a majority 56% lack that confidence to variable degrees.

That only 5.6% of respondents are confident about their money? It does not bode well; hence the need for deeper research to understand why this may be and how this vital aspect of the student experience can be enhanced.

Further Research

A review of existing literature regarding the finances of young people highlights that most studies are older and likely obsolete. Given the dynamic nature of the economy, one could assume that modern student finances have evolved since the early 2000s when research on this topic boomed.

Roberts and Jones (2001) early work suggests that consumer culture and consumption are an epidemic to young people; they link our depression, anxiety and low self esteem with compulsive buying. This source may be out-of-date, but it does start us out on an interesting path to uncovering more about student finances.

A more recent 2017 study by Sundarasen and Rahman concurs with the idea that young adults are drowned by the temptations of a consumer culture induced lifestyle. They identify students as being saddled with debts and unsettled credit cards. This study goes further to suggest that for students, money management/literacy can bring about financial freedom. This study inspires my inquiry into how students save and invest their money, as opposed to only how students spend their money.

Bramforth and Guersen (2017) look into the notion of student savings in their small Melbourne study of university students. They identify three distinct approaches to student money management: conservative, creative and entrepreneurial. An examination of what these money management strategies look like in the UOW cohort may be an interesting pathway in understanding how student finances will be impacted under the pandemic crisis.

Continually, the economic, social and psychological factors affecting undergraduates’ money management behaviours, as identified by Bamforth, Jebarajakirthy and Geursen (2017), will provide greater depth to understandings about student money management both in normal times and during the pandemic crisis; particularly compared to the traditional and two-dimensional focus on undergraduate financial literacy commonly seen in academic works in this field.

In my own research, I will tie these insights together in a comparison of university student money management and redundancy planning duringa crisis. I hope to highlight the very real struggles faced by students in their university experience, and the consequences of this on our lives and livelihoods.

(edited 25/04/20)


References

Bamforth, J & Geursen, G 2017, “Categorising the money management behaviour of young consumers”, Young Consumers, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 205-222.

Bamforth, J, Jebarajakirthy, C & Geursen, G 2017, “Undergraduates’ responses to factors affecting their money management behaviour: some new insights from a qualitative study”, Young Consumers, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 290-311.

Roberts, J & Jones, E 2001, “Money Attitudes, Credit Card Use, and Compulsive Buying Among American College Students”, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 35, pp. 213 – 240.

Sundarasen, SD & Rahman MS 2017, “Attitude Towards Money: Mediation to Money Management”, Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 1-13.

Williams, A & Oumlil, A 2015, “College student financial capability”, International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 33, pp. 637-653.

the second pitch

I have previously established that I am to conduct an ethnographic case study of the Sydney restaurant, the Grounds of Alexandria.

I will be looking at the symbiotic relationship between tangible, constructed spaces and the intangible mediascapes which they shape.

The ethnography

I am to be a participant-observer and experiencer both in the physical restaurant and in the online spaces where this phenomenon has etched its culture. These online spaces include but are not limited to: the official Grounds of Alexandria social media pages and website; the Grounds of Alexandria Instagram hashtag; third party content such as articles on Timeout; and customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor.

This project will involve a high degree of collaboration from a number of different sources; my approach will align with Erik Lassiter’s (2005) ideas about collaboration that avoids ‘othering’. To effectively be a participant experiencer I will need to be accompanied by at least one friend or family member when I visit the restaurant. Whilst here we will need to engage with the space as other patrons are, this may include: ordering and photographing food and drink as well as photographing each other in various places around the restaurant.

I will also need to record my observations of the other restaurant patrons, effectively turning them into my collaborators as well. Additionally, I plan on conducting unstructured interviews of some of the employees present at the restaurant, such as my waiter. Their comparatively high level of contact with the space may provide other insights that can not be not gained from participants alone.

Regarding the study of the online mediascape, I will again need to be a participant experiencer by sharing my own content in the same way that others have when engaging with this phenomenon online. I also will need to observe the media I find online and plumb it for information regarding the influence of the physical restaurant and how they work together.

Key details

Stakeholders for the project include the Grounds of Alexandria themselves, but also other restaurants and marketers. These groups would be looking to leverage their brand’s physical spaces to create publicity in paid, earned, shared and owned media forms.

It is important that I conduct myself in accordance with the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics. This highlights the importance of ‘honesty’, ‘fairness’, ‘independence’, and ‘respect for the rights of others’. I will commit myself to these values throughout my research to ensure I do not cause distress or harm to others. I will avoid naming specific participants, especially if they are employed by the restaurant; and I will ensure I have consent to take photographs and publish interviews.

I will communicate my final project on a dedicated website, likely produced through Wix. The primary inspiration for this comes from Sarah Pink’s study of Energy and Digital Living (2014) where her research was laid out in a digestible format across a single website. Additionally, I may take inspiration from Marsha Berry’s thick description conveyed through her use of vignettes. These were constructed based upon her participant’s interview responses and observations about their media use. 

From preliminary research, it is my understanding that the online mediascape surrounding the Grounds of Alexandria phenomenon is highly visual. I will therefore also need to include pictorial elements across the presentation of my findings.

Dear readers,

If you have not been to the Grounds of Alexandria, what have you heard about it? What have you seen about it online?

THANKS FOR READING! JOIN THE NERD HERD TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH NEW CONTENT.

References

Lassiter, E 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, in Lassiter, E (eds.), The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 15-24.

LEEDR 2014, Energy & Digital Living, viewed 27 September 2019, <http://energyanddigitalliving.com>.

Media Entertainment & Arts n.d., MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, viewed 27 September 2019, <https://www.meaa.org/meaa-media/code-of-ethics/>.

the first pitch

The Grounds of Alexandria is popularly known for its design not as a restaurant, but as a social media backdrop. Word of mouth suggests that its atmosphere is abuzz with the chattering of lens shutters more so than the clanking of cutlery. 

As a food-lover, I find this situation to be highly intriguing.

My purpose

To perform an ethnographic case study on this phenomenon by examining the symbiotic relationship between the tangible, designed space and the intangible mediascape which has subsequently, and quite intentionally, arisen. 

Background research

A forerunner to my research is the work of Marsha Berry (2015). She explores Hjorth and Pink’s (2014) notion of the ‘digital wayfarer’ as an individual who engages with media perpetually as they move through their lives. This lifestyle gives rise to the entanglement of contemporary life with media production and digital spaces. As such, the conceptualisation of space is re-examined to encompass the notion of place and non-place in synonymous existence.

Ingold (2008) also provides valuable insight regarding emplaced visuality and sociality. He highlights that mobile technologies allow users to contribute to a ‘bigger picture’; that is, the user is pivotal in contributing to the foundations or sustention of a digital culture through their media production. Hjorth and Gu (2012) expand on the idea of emplaced visuality by noting the overlay between place, ambient images, and geographic locations.

The ideas explored in these texts provide an invaluable springboard from which I may begin to traverse my research. Berry’s (2015) study is particularly useful because it takes an ethnographic approach. 

Ethnography in action

Berry (2015) states that interviews were a significant part of her research process. She invited individuals who were heavily involved in her area of study, via social media, so that she could then probe them for their knowledge. She then went deeper by observing their public interactions with others on social media.

My personal experience as a researcher has not been so complete. I have been a participant observer and experiencer when inquiring into the cinema experience, media use on trains and the use of technology in a shoe store. I have also conducted a reflective form of auto-ethnography when looking at a critical TV memory from my life. However, I have not yet taken the opportunity to conduct collaborative ethnography through memory conversations and interviews.

I will conduct my case study on the Grounds of Alexandria by drawing on my own experiences whilst also considering Marsha Berry’s approaches to research. Participant observation and experience will be pivotal in learning about the tacit details of the relationship between the engineered place and non-place. Additionally, interviews will also enrich the findings by providing unstructured and spontaneous information that may be unattainable from overt and covert observation and participation.

Dear readers,

Have you been to the Grounds of Alexandria? If yes, what stood out to you most about media production whilst you were there?

THANKS FOR READING! JOIN THE NERD HERD TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH NEW CONTENT.
FIND THE SECOND PITCH HERE.

References

Berry, M 2015, ‘Out in the open: locating new vernacular practices with smartphone cameras’, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 53-64.

Hjorth, L & Gu, K 2012, ‘The place of emplaced visualities: A case study of smartphone visuality and location-based social media in Shanghai, China’, Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 699-713.

Hjorth, L & Pink, S 2014, ‘New visualities and the digital wayfarer: Reconceptualizing camera phone photography and locative media’, Mobile Media & Communication, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 40-57.

Ingold, T 2008, ‘Bindings against Boundaries: Entanglements of Life in an Open World’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, vol. 40, no. 8, pp. 1796-1810.

immersed in understanding

BCM241 class of 2019, we are an odd bunch.

We all, it seems, are very particular about our cinema tastes. We have a favourite seat. A favourite snack. And a devotion to whatever it is we’re watching.

We hate talkers. We’re afraid to crunch on food out loud. And we have no qualms with getting up and leaving mid-movie should the situation call for it.

After a closer ethnographic examination of our cinema rituals through participant observation, we now also are more aware of how Torsten Hagerstrand’s (1969) constraints of coupling, capability, and authority unconsciously impact our cinematic experiences.

When Mikayla Stott of Generally Unimpressed tried to see ‘The Lion King’, her experience was ruined by unexpected capability problems, culminating in her taking early leave of the movie.

It took Taylah Ide-Miller of TayTay’s Blog three attempts to have an ideal experience when she tried to see the much-anticipated ‘Avengers Endgame’ movie. Mostly thanks to a series of authority and capability issues.

Such deep understandings would not be possible had these researchers not observed these experiences from the inside-out through participation. 

This immersive approach distinguishes itself from anthropology in accordance with Erik Lassiter’s reflections in his article ‘A Brief Guide to Collaborative Ethnography’ (2005).

He notes that ethnography avoids the harmful phenomenon of ‘othering’; of portraying the observed culture as separate, merely a shallow curiosity. When applied to the ethnography of the cinema, this form of research places ourselves in the context of viewer/experiencer-culture and our understandings are enriched.

I hope to use these insights about the power of participant observation in my capstone research project. 

One of my ideas revolves around the retail space; how different the discourse surrounding retail employment is between ‘real-life’ and online spheres, such as the subreddit titled ‘Retail Hell’.

Another concept I believe will be interesting is the interaction between the built environment and the digital world; how one prompts action in another and vice versa.

Whatever I choose to explore, I know that I must dive deep into the experience because adventure awaits.

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