Chapter 9: Towards the Well-Researched Paper

Second Storey


SECOND STOREY: Such interaction on the page demonstrates that while Facebook pages do provide a useful tool for distributing information and bringing large communities together, users often end up using inflammatory, escalating or insulting language that stunts potential deeper discussions of the complex topics posted.

We have looked closely at our evidence. Now we need to move a step further in our interpretation of it. If we go through our second storey carefully, we can see which aspects of it offer concrete ideas that can be discussed further in relation to the evidence; we can also arrange these aspects into an order conducive to moving our argument forward. For instance, we might consider arranging the next few paragraphs as follows:

Paragraph 5: Discuss the function of this particular post as an information distributor and community unifier by concentrating on the identities (where apparent) and/or stated aims of the commenters. Are they treating it primarily as a source of information? A place where a wider community can come together? Something else?

Paragraph 6: Explain the patterns you have found in the comments as an effect of the social space itself. If many of the comments seem insular, why might they be so? If the broader community seems disunified, what in the post and/or the comment section is allowing the insularity of the sub-communities within the larger community to remain?

Paragraph 7: Draw in elements that seem not to fit. Not all the comments are insular. How are those that are not insular treated by the group? Are they ignored? Do they contribute to the conversation? Do they ever come from the same people who post the insular comments, or do they originate from a distinct sub-community?

Paragraph 8: Discuss the effect of the online community’s structure in light of the idea of the Facebook page’s purpose. Do the patterns you have found confirm or deny the “usefulness” of the page? What, in this context, does “usefulness” mean? Is the word itself becoming inadequate (i.e., too vague and general) for your purposes?

Research-Related Considerations: Apply broader secondary perspectives to this specific example in order to gain insight into what it demonstrates.

Notice that while we are still working with the evidence introduced in our first storey, we are now asking more specific questions about it. How does it work? Why does it do X? What is its effect? How do the different puzzle pieces you have collected fit together? We are also introducing a few nudges towards our third storey. We have not quite asked what the ultimate significance of our observations is yet, but we’re getting there.