Friday, 30 December 2016

Advice for #UCT Media Studies students on sharing draft #research papers online

Written for UCT postgraduate Media Studies students interested in sharing their research projects online.

Three of my 17 postgrad students shared their Mobile Media and Communication projects online. One student had a highly compelling reason not to; her draft paper's topic focused on a rival to her new employer's magazine title! As a result of this low ratio, it seems that several exemplary projects will at best be shared via UCT's intranet for just future FAM5038S students to access. The small ratio of students sharing drafts seems a missed opportunity for them to gain recognition. More importantly postgrad students' projects miss adding to Media Studies literature: several of my year's projects were pathfinders that successfully explored under-examined topics. Such foci also provided interesting insights regarding research participants' unusual Capetonian contexts.

To help those Media Studies students keen to share their final research projects online, but who may be uncertain how, Nicola Pallitt and I recommend four options. For aspiring, emergent researchers, these are ideally considered after creating one's Academia researcher profile:

Creating a research profile on

Postgrads keen to progress to a PhD or working in research should create a UCT profile (ideally using their university work email address). Creating an profile and sharing their draft papers there first, enables one to basically say ‘this is mine’. While some journals won’t publish papers shared elsewhere {including!}, it is also helpful platform to link one's drafts from and join related communities. For example, a selfie researcher can search for the 'selfie' keyword and follow it. Ditto for the keywords, 'open access', 'special issue' – when you join such a network you might also connect with researchers who can advise on upcoming publications.

Joining communities on can also give you insights into who is reading your paper. Plus readers of your article might describe what sparked their interest in it. Just remember to add your email address in your draft paper to ease communication – super-interested readers may want to email you. For background on the benefits and limitations of academics using (with its marginal relationship to open access), read Kristen Bell's reflections at

You should also consider searching for and joining closed Facebook research groups. Their members can be asked for publication advice, such as where to publish. Here, you can easily introduce yourself in a post to the group, share your draft paper and pose your questions.

P.S. There are other sites that you can create a research profile on (such as Google Scholar or ResearchGate), however these are most relevant for academics with a publication history. You should also consider sharing your draft paper via OpenUCT and reading its four-step guide for academics on taking control of their visibility.

Recommended options to submit one's draft paper for publication include:

1. To an Online Community or Conference.

The easiest option is to share one's paper to a community related to its focus (such as 'Identity and media'). The drawback is that such a publication (and many under point 3 below) will be unrecognized for academic publication points, et al (see You can also consider presenting at a local conference. Just be forewarned that you may have difficulty finding one focused on popular postgrad themes, such as 'identity and self presentation' or 'mobile gaming'.

2. To an Open Access Journal.

Use your research keywords to search in and identify the most suitable journal(s). Open Access journals may not be as prestigious as the next two options, but you are more likely to have a positive response from them.

3. To a Special Issue of a Journal.

Student contributions may have a real advantage in Special Issues focusing on emergent media services (such as Snapchat and the 'ephemeral selfie' phenomenon), which few (if any) established academics could be doing research in. You can search for any upcoming special issues calling for contributions (for example, ephemeral selfies would suit special issues covering 'Gender' and 'Self-Presentation').

4. To a Journal.

It is preferable to start off in local publishing before attempting to publish in international journals. Local journals often offer a forum for debate in the field and are an entry point to it. A list of the IBSS (International Bibliography of Social Sciences) accredited local journals is on UCT Library’s website at  An important consideration for journals in choosing to publish your article is whether it contributes to the dialogue taking place between a journal's authors. So, in choosing a journal to submit to, you should look through your references to check those journal(s) you mention the most. Alternately, you need to find several new references in the journal you want to publish in, then include these in your argument. It is also important to consider your purpose for publishing – choosing a journal can be about networking with a particular group of people. It’s like saying ‘I’m with these folks’... or want to be!

Future Media Studies students may benefit form you sharing research online; publishing it moves it from being just a 'textbook exercise' (that "fridge magnet" which only your educator gets to view) towards being a contribution to the Media Studies community. The latter may help ensure that your project is not redone by other students, but they might build on it. For example, by following the future directions for research your paper suggests.

N.B. Consider the RISKS before sharing.

While there can be personal benefits to sharing your research online; such as recognition, receiving constructive feedback and protecting your authorial rights, be prepared for negative outcomes, too. In particular, you must be sure that the privacy of your research participants remains protected, especially for controversial projects (such as Tindr and sexual relationships). You may receive negative feedback, experience rejection of your submission or have it plagiarized. Worse, you may be trolled by undesirable audiences, such as chauvinists and/or racist trolls! If such risks deeply concern you, rather pursue an offline approach, asking your lecturer or supervisor for guidance.

Share and comment

Nicci and I hope that the benefits described above will outweigh any such risks and that reading our post has given you a sound appreciation for the 'how and why' to share draft papers online. Add a comment below to let us know if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions that could improve this post, ta.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Pilot research projects and draft papers by #UCT #CFMS Mobile Media and Communication students in 2016

Written for Media Studies researchers interested in postgrad media students' pilot research projects and draft papers.

I supervised 2016's Mobile Media and Communication postgrad students in doing a short research project and writing up their articles. Students that did not object to their work being listed are indexed below, under their respective research grouping:

Identity and self-presentation via mobile media >

2. 'Exploring the performance of professional identity online' by Garrett Farmer-Brent.
3. 'Swipe right for friends: The adoption of Tinder by South African university students to form friendships in an online space' by Aisha Karim.
4.  'The Representation of Self across Social Media- a study into how two students' social media profiles reflect how they represent themselves' by Grace Thomson.
5.  'Aesthetic visual prosumers construct aesthetic niches: the use of Instagram to design emergent, aesthetic selves' by Tayla-Paige von Sittert.
6.  'Will you be my Tinderella? How the mobile dating app, Tinder, has turned traditional dating on its head for South African university students' by Lauren Voster.

< Broadcast media, marketing and communications meet social networks >

7. 'Zimbos on WhatsApp: perceptions of WhatsApp use among Zimbabwean women living in Cape Town' by Shuvai Finos.
8. 'Understanding a Black, South African hashtag community and its memes: The example of Sunday Twitter and Our Perfect Wedding' by Vuyisile Kubeka.
9. 'The never-ending (un)strategy: Social media related public relations crises in the South African entertainment industry' by Jessica Latham.

< Journalism and politics meet social media >

10. 'The construction of digital publics in Twitter replies: a study of Eusebius McKaiser’s tweets' by Bronwynne Jooste.
11. 'Like or share that news: Facebook users' interaction with South African news organisations' Facebook posts' by Mariska Morris.
12. '#Asinavalo: The Role of a Twitter hashtag during the election and beyond' by Mmatseleng Mphanya.

< User experiences with free internet and gaming >

12. 'Towards an understanding what is ‘free’ about Free Basics: Assessing the quality and technical aspects of the HIV360 website' by Tasneem Amra.
13. 'Ingress means access: using the game Ingress to explore the correlation between access to high-end mobile gaming and spaces of play' by Kyle de Villiers.
14. 'Pok√©mon Go: illegal user appropriations of Location Based Augmented Reality Gaming' by Mishka Loofer.

As their supervisor, I helped students identify potential contributions related to their interests that might help close research gaps in Media Studies. I encouraged each student to share their pilot study online and have offered select students support in submitting theirs to research communities, conferences or journals. For example, I advised students to look at SACOMM 2017 as a potential opportunity. Six students' projects readily related to speakers on its 2016 program (as shown in my scribbled links in Figures 1 and 2). Such projects concerned Twitter and politics; social media and PR; online content linked to HIV and AIDS; female beauty; migration and... the My Perfect Wedding television show!

Figure 1. SACOMM 2016 program page 1 - links to FAM5038S draft paper authors

Figure 2. SACOMM 2016 program page 2 - links to FAM5038S draft papers' authors (or X for none)

By contrast, there seemed to be limited scope to address the issues of 'identity and self presentation' and 'mobile gaming' at this pre-eminent, South African conference. So, eleven students would need to explore other local opportunities.

If you are interested in any of these papers, please use the link provided. Alternatively, add a comment below, listing the paper you are interested in. I will then ask its author to contact you.

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