Let’s reflect

RESEARCH, REsearch, reSEARCH, research, re s e a r c  h… r     e  s  e a   r c  h.

These thirteen weeks have been interesting, stressful and a learning experience. As I conclude this research paper, I can reflect on the process as a whole.

Overall, it has allowed my abilities as a researcher to develop further than before. This improvement is based on how I tackle sources, including my own primary data (survey) and from there, how I analyse what I have gathered. As a student, this is incredibly valuable as research is so often a requirement. I used both primary and secondary sources as I wanted to have access to as much information as possible, in regard to this topic. Research isn’t as simple as many would assume. Yes, it includes a search engine of some sort but it also includes the use of accountability, flexibility and integrity.

Accountability refers to a researcher’s duty to the public, including one’s stakeholders and the participants when gathering any form of primary data. In my case, I created a survey as a way of gathering primary information. Prior to beginning the survey I attached a greeting which included an introduction, my key contact details (my email: sm918@uowmail.edu.au, twitter handle: @sophemacy and link to my blog: www.sophemacy.wordpress.com) and this short statement – “By beginning this survey, you’re consenting to your answers being used in this research project”. This is important as a researcher as you’re responsible for making your participants aware of how their data is being used and where their information is published. A researcher is also accountable for how their participants react or respond to the findings which makes your contact details vital so communication can occur.

Another research value to consider is flexibility as it is needed as a researcher. Flexibility coincides with a researcher’s ability to adapt when you don’t acquire what you initially thought or anticipated. For instance, I had to be flexible about the number of survey responses I received. As researchers, we can never be certain of an outcome. Despite posting my link onto Twitter and pinning it directly to my page, responses were still coming in slowly. I then posted it to Facebook and the BCM212 moodle page which allowed me to gather more data. However, this resulted in less than twenty responses overall. As Dr. Kate Bowles stated in a lecture, “We need to develop companion skills: adaptability, and ability to work calmly within uncertainty” (2017). Although, I had a limited number of responses, the responses I did have were detailed and gave me the data which I used in my final report. In Tolerating AmbiguityDugan alludes to how we dislike the feeling of “being uncertain” as we see it as a “liability” but ultimately, we can adapt to the circumstances we are given. This is a fundamental part of the researching process. 

Lastly, the use of integrity is fundamental as a researcher builds from the ideas of others. Within the University of Wollongong’s Academic Integrity Policy it states “academic integrity is foundational to the work of the whole academic community, including students, teachers, researchers, coordinators and administrators” (UOW, 2011). We all have a great responsibility to reference and cite our sources. Throughout this process of researching, I used a separate document to reference directly after finding a source. This made it easier to see where I was getting ideas from and each source’s value to my project. To remain ethical, researchers must uphold the value of integrity. 

Initially, I intended to post regular updates via Twitter for my stakeholders but due to the word limit I used this platform (my blog) instead. Other than that, I followed my communication plan and Gantt chart to the best of my ability. I saw the value in following a schedule as it’s difficult to cram researching into your weekly timetable. The results I gathered and interpreted have been essential to my final report. I followed my initial plan for methodology as I used primary data from my survey as well as secondary sources. Creating a survey online via Google Forms allowed it to be spread quite easily, as simple as copy and paste. I promoted my survey to my stakeholders via Twitter and Facebook. This was beneficial to the process as it gave me more time to research as I wasn’t spending time physically handing out sheets of paper and creating pie charts and graphs myself. Google Forms was a great tool as it would automatically summarise my quantitative results.

I plan to remain updated with memetic theory and its evolution. I’m constantly engaging with memes and literature so I’ll continue to make the connection between them both.

Feel free to read my initial proposal if you wish to know how I began this process.

I’d thought I would end with a meme:

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Here’s an update

Hello stakeholders, readers, friends…

Surprisingly I’m on schedule with my initial plan despite getting caught up with the latest #dankmemes. I’ve created my survey questions (via Google Forms) but am still awaiting some more responses. However, so far my results have expressed how valuable memes really are to popular culture. Most answers have alluded to a frequent daily meme engagement. One hundred per cent of surveyees have made the connection between ‘high-brow culture’ and literature which was expected. I’ve been happily surprised with my other results and look forward to interpreting and analysing them at a later date.

I’m still researching and finding new sources to use. However, It is a struggle as memetic theory is still a relevantly new topic. I did find a fascinating paper – ‘Victorian Memes‘ written by Karen Bourrier which makes a connection between the Victorian novel as a genre and Twitter.

[It was a good day – I was really excited to read something so similar to my topic.]

Anyway, I’m off. I’ve got to get back to the research…(and memes).


Please note: my survey is live, please click to participate if you haven’t already. I’d greatly appreciate it!


Research Proposal: More than just a punchline!

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How many times a day do you scroll past or engage with internet memes? It seems meme culture is rapidly taking over the internet and with no discouragement from the users because let’s face it – they’re entertaining!

1 meme.jpg

It raises the question – how has communication changed due to the emergence of internet memes?

Visual communication has existed since the Ancient Greeks with their use of pictographs to interact with one another (Haldermann 2014). In today’s world, emoticons and memes are our versions of pictographs. Although, we now text, tweet, message or share with no caves or rocks required.

Memes communicate a message, perhaps even story and if we imagine “memes as a genre” could memes be considered a form of literature? (Ejaz 2016). Literature evolves with society as do memes. The comparison can be made between a meme and a fable as they are both “community-driven, anonymously produced and open to modification” (Ejaz 2016). This idea drove me to choose this topic to research as I am curious about both memes and literature.

Memes embody popular culture in the simplest form, an image. The origin of the infamous ‘meme’ began with biologist, Richard Dawkins in 1976. Dawkins related ‘meme’ to ‘gene’ in an attempt to characterise the small units of culture. They find their similarity based on their “spread”, from person to person (Shifman & Thelwall 2009). Memes are circulated across multiple internet platforms and like genes they experience “variation, selection and retention” (Shifman & Thelwall 2009).

Social media platforms are the main home to the majority of memes across the internet, from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. Many users rely on these platforms for their daily dose of laughter. Memes allow users to express their sense of self, by sharing, tweeting and retweeting, users can relate to one another without physically communicating. Reddit and YouTube too publish memes, allowing for a wider circulation to occur. Memes are basically inescapable in the Digital Age. Memes allow communication to become “simplified” more so than already (Gerbaudo 2016).

I will require both qualitative and quantitative data in order to fully research this topic. This methodology will give my research project breadth and will assist in answering my question. As I conduct my research, I will acknowledge and respect the ethical standards put forward by the university. Through surveying fellow students from campus, I will be able to gather the necessary information most relevant to the age group of eighteen to twenty five. Those involved will also have the option of anonymity if they wish.

I look forward to delving further into this topic and hopefully uncover new memes as I go! 


Tweet me your favourite memes @sophemacy



  • Davison. P 2012,‘The Language of Internet Memes’, The Social Media Reader, edited by Michael Mandiberg, NYU Press,  pp. 120–134, <www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16gzq5m.13> Viewed 10 March 2017
  • Ejaz. A 2016, ‘Are Internet Memes a New Form of Literature?’, Quillete, 28 November, <http://quillette.com/2016/11/28/are-internet-memes-a-new-form-of-literature/ > viewed on 10 March 2017
  • Haldermann. J 2014, ‘A brief history of pictograms and ideograms’, Spicy Learning Blog, 11 November, <http://saffroninteractive.com/a-brief-history-of-pictograms-and-ideograms/> viewed on 10 March 2017
  • How memes create social and political change, 2016, MP3, Chips with Everything: The Guardian, presented by Leigh Alexander with Elena Cresci and produced by Matt Shore, commentary from Paulo Gerbaudo and Joel Penney, United Kingdom.
  • Knobel. M, Lankshear. C 2007, ‘Chapter 9: Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production’, A New Literacies Sampler, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, U.S, vol. 29, pp.199-227, viewed 10 March 2017.
  • Siemens. G 2005, ‘Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age’, pp.1-8, <http://er.dut.ac.za/bitstream/handle/123456789/69/Siemens_2005_Connectivism_A_learning_theory_for_the_digital_age.pdf> viewed 10 March 2017
  • Thelwall. M, Shifman. L 2009, ‘Assessing Global Diffusion with Web Memetics: The Spread and Evolution of a Popular Joke’, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 1, pp. 1-4.
  • Zittrain. JL 2008, ‘The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It’, Yale University Press & Penguin UK, pp. 1-10, viewed 9 March 2017.



  1. Janskishimanshi via Reddit 2017, Whomst, image, Daily Dot, viewed 11 March 2017 <https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/best-memes-2017/>
  2. Skinkbaa via Reddit 2017, Trump’s Execuive Order, image, Daily Dot, viewed 11 March 2017 <https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/best-memes-2017/>
  3. Unknown 2017, Definition of Meme, image; screenshot, Google, viewed 10 March 2017 <http://www.google.com.au/search?q=define+meme