RMeS Workshop: Designing research to generate social impact: Amplifying diverse voices in media research

Designing research to generate social impact: Amplifying diverse voices in media research

Workshop organized by Alexander Smit and Denise Mensonides (RUG), within the context of the RMeS PhD Workshop Grant

When: 2 November 2023
Where: University of Groningen
Coordinators: Alexander Smit and Denise Mensonides (both RUG)
For: PhD’s and research master students who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). Students who are members of RMeS will have first access.

Registration will open 11 September 2023 via this link.

Media research has evolved beyond merely focusing on the medium or the user. Different approaches and methods have been developed  to capture the dynamics of the changing media environments. However, understudied publics still exist, and their voices and perspectives are often forgotten, neglected, and/or left aside. Be they marginalized publics, disadvantaged communities, young children, elderly, refugees, all groups that are positioned on the margins of society at large. Although methods have been developed to study these subgroups, issues related to diversity, inclusion and intercultural dialogue are still not always present in media research and media education.

To develop a more inclusive approach to media research and media education, and amplify the diversity of voices in research and public discourse, academic research needs to reflect upon their own methodological instruments, research design, motivations and outcomes, in order to learn how to study and incorporate differences in theory and practice.

Drawing on qualitative research, ethnographic methodologies and diverse target audiences, we argue that a critical and reflexive approach to media research and media education needs to incorporate an intersectional and reflexive perspective, in order to enable an inclusive academic field that can facilitate social impact. Social impact could translate into education and policy more in line with the everyday lives and situated lived experiences of diverse publics in society. Such an inclusive approach should entail ways to center diverse voices from the margins of society, and focus on the ethical considerations we as academics should consider when studying such publics. Ethical considerations such as balancing your role as an academic and activities in social contexts, listening to personal stories and knowing/feeling what to use for research purposes and what to move aside, and carefully working with personal and sometimes sensitive data.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars that develop a critical and reflexive perspective on their own research and their role in moving from collecting data to making social impact. We aim to provide insights from multiple experts from the field of qualitative research, to enlighten us upon their experiences with diverse audiences, and designing media research.

The focus will be held on empirical studies from different perspectives and with different aims that provide a critical reflection on media research and media education. The topics we will consider are the following:

  • Qualitative research centering diverse groups;
  • Critical approaches to media research with a focus on intersectionality and/or diversity;
  • Digital and social inequalities;
  • Participatory methods within media research.


For the assignment, participants will be asked to write a methodological reflection on their own research topic. The reflection can be written on your research proposal, former research experiences, preliminary study, or a finalized study. While both speakers have affinity with media literacy, the methodological reflection can be on any research topic. You might think about different methodological considerations, such as constructing a sound research design, including diverse groups, positionality of the researcher, and/or ethical considerations.

Using the prescribed literature [we will discuss this with the speakers] reflect on the following issues:

  • Inclusion of differing voices and publics – who are your participants? Or who/what do you study? What does this group reflect? Is this an accurate representation? What are the challenges of doing research with these participants?
  • Societal impact – (how) does your research generate societal impact? How and why do you want to achieve this? When would you start doing this in the research process?
  • Research practices – Think about issues such as researcher positionality, inclusion, intersectionality, ethics. How to construct an inclusive research design with participants – e.g., do you involve them in the process? And how?

Please note that these questions are mere guidelines. If you have encountered any other issue related to the topic of this workshop you want to reflect and get feedback on, feel free to write your reflection on this topic/issue.

Using these questions to guide your reflection, write a reflection in essay form of 750 words. Workshop organizers (Alex Smit & Denise Mensonides) will provide short written feedback on each reflection, which will be sent to participants after the workshop.

Finally, we ask the participants to prepare a short presentation (max. 5 min – no PowerPoint), based on your written reflection. After the presentations, there will be time for an open discussion and questions between the participants, the speakers and the organizers.

Preliminary programme
09.00-09.30 Doors open. – Coffee
09.30-10.00 Welcome (Prof. Marcel Broersma & dr. Joëlle Swart)
10.00-12.00 Workshop I: Ethnographic fieldwork: Methodological design and challenges of working with disadvantaged/marginalized/understudied publics (Cigdem Bozdag)
12.00-13.00 Lunch break
13.00-15.00 Workshop II: Participatory research: Working with audiences to generate social impact (Maria José Brites)
15.00-15.30 Coffee
15.30-17.00 Presentations, discussions and reflections (moderated by Denise Mensonides & Alexander Smit)
17.00-17.15 Closing remarks (Denise Mensonides & Alexander Smit)


Çiğdem Bozdağ: Dr. Çiğdem Bozdağ is an assistant professor at the Research Centre for Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen. Bozdağ is at the same time a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow in the Faculty of Education at the University of Bremen with her project INCLUDED (2019-2023). Bozdağ previously worked as an assistant professor and head of the New Media department at the Kadir Has University. Bozdağ’s research interests include digital media use, media and migration, inter- and transcultural communication, digital media literacy and media education and she has extensive experience and expertise in conducting qualitative research with various audiences, including migrant youth.

Maria José Brites: Maria José Brites is an Associate Professor at the Lusófona University, Vice-President of the Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture, and New Technologies (CICANT), coordinator of MeLCi Lab – Media Literacy and Civic Cultures Lab and coordinator of the Publics and Audiences section of the Portuguese Association for Communication (SOPCOM). She is also the Principal Investigator of two research projects: the project Youth, News and Digital Citizenship – YouNDigital and Dici-Educa – Educational centers with digital and civic skills. Her research interests include youth, journalism and participation; audience and reception studies and news and civic literacy; participatory methodologies; civic cultures; hate speech; and media resistance. She has extensive experience in participatory action research methods, through which she often works closely with various publics from all over Europe.

Preliminary readings:

  • Ravenscroft, A., Dellow, J., Brites, M. J., Jorge, A., & Catalão, D. (2018). RadioActive101-Learning through radio, learning for life: An international approach to the inclusion and non-formal learning of socially excluded young people, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Taylor & Francis, doi 10.1080/13603116.2018.1503739
  • Neag, A., Bozdağ, Ç., & Leurs, K. (2022). Literacy Education for Diverse Societies. In: Roy, S., Subervi, F, & Georgiou M (Eds.): The Oxford Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.