Research

$200,000 Awarded to Next-Generation Media Data Analysis

Posted: January 27th, 2014

Media History

A team from Concordia’s newly minted Media History Research Centre (MHRC) has partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a bid to transform the study of film and media history. Today, their project was awarded more than $200,000 in an international grant competition.

Project Arclight’s goal is to turn digitized historical documents into useable data sets. In an era when our publications and libraries are moving to an electronic model, the backlog of pre-digital documents waiting to be transferred from paper to pixel is staggering. As archivists make that conversion, researchers are left with vast amounts of raw material.

Arclight is developing a new web-based tool that will allow users to analyze millions of pages of digitally scanned magazines and newspapers for trends related to a chosen media history subject.

The proposal has been selected as a successful entry in the Digging into Data Challenge, administered by the Office of Digital Humanities at the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities. The winners were announced on January 15: the Canada/U.S. Project Arclight team will receive approximately $214,750 to develop the software tool, which it aims to launch in 2015.

Arclight will allow film and media historians to apply a big-data analysis approach to their research.

“Today you hear of corporations that use social media as a way to gauge different kinds of developing interests with geographical precision,” says project leader Charles Acland, professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Communication Studies. “What we want to do is develop an online, web-based tool that will help media historians do something comparable using historical materials.”

Initially, the project will draw on more than two million pages of documents from two repositories: the Media History Digital Library and the National Digital Newspaper Program at the Library of Congress. It will grow to include other digitized holdings.

The wealth of newly digitized trade magazines, fan magazines and newspapers holds a lot of potential for researchers, Acland says. “It really opens up the possibility of constructing a new kind of portrait of the history of the development of contemporary media in Canada and the United States.”

One of the main goals of the developers is to make the software tool easy to navigate, in hopes of attracting as many users as possible. “The design of the homepage is a very intuitive user interface that basically lets you immediately start asking the questions you want to know,” says Professor Eric Hoyt, principal investigator from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in a video about the project.

The Digging into Data Challenge is supported by 10 international research funding bodies, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The grant is a major coup for Acland and his team at the Media History Research Centre. Acland is excited to see the impact Arclight will have on film and media studies.

“If our ambitions for this are approximated, it will be one of the major starting points for media historical research here and internationally.”

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Communication Studies Ranks Among World’s Best

Posted: May 9th, 2013

University takes five spots in British rankings’ top 200
The Department of Communication Studies ranked in the top 100 such programs worldwide. | Photo by Concordia University
The Department of Communication Studies ranked in the top 100 such programs worldwide. | Photo by Concordia University

Concordia University’s renowned communication studies programs have clinched a spot in the top 100 such programs worldwide in the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject. Two other disciplines broke through to the prestigious higher-education rankings’ top 150 while two others held their spot (jointly in one category) in that elite group. A sixth program also ranked in the global top 200 again this year.

The education and English programs rose in the rankings this year while accountancy and finance held steady in their top 150 spot since last year, and sociology retained its spot in the top 200.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on several factors including academic reputation, a survey of employers and citations per faculty. While the first 50 universities are ranked sequentially, those that fall between 51 and 200 are grouped into three categories (50-100; 100-150; 150-200).

Concordia’s position, by category, in the 2013 edition of the British-based publication:
 
•    Communication and Media Studies: 51-100 (101-150 in 2012)
•    Education: 101-150 (151-200 in 2012)
•    English Language and and Literature: 101-150 (151-200 in 2012)
•    Accounting/Finance: 101-150  (no change from 2012)
•    Sociology: 151-200 (no change from 2012)

The first of its kind in North America, Concordia’s communication studies program was founded in 1965 with a focus on studying communication as an art form. The department’s reputation for innovation persists to this day as it is the first in Canada to have research-creation thesis options in its MA Media Studies and PhD Communication Studies programs. The department is currently home to the only two Trudeau PhD Fellowships in Communications Studies in Quebec.

The department is also the nexxus of significant research with faculty members currently holding two Canada Research Chairs and two Concordia University Research Chairs, three of which are a first in Canada. Mia Consalvo holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Games Studies and Design while Krista Geneviève Lynes is the new Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Feminist Media Studies and will soon run the Feminist Media Studio. Kim Sawchuck holds the Concordia University Research Chair (Tier 1) in Mobile Media Studies and Charles Acland holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Communication Studies (Tier 2), the first chair in the department.

Illustrious alumni from the Department of Communication Studies include Pierre Even, producer of films including the Oscar-nominated feature Rebelle; Régine Chassagne, philanthropist, musician (Arcade Fire);  René Balcer, Emmy award-winning producer and writer (Law & Order); and Hana Gartner, investigative journalist (CBC Television’s The Fifth Estate).

The QS World University Rankings by Subject was launched in 2011, an outgrowth of the QS World University Rankings, published annually since 2004. The expanded version aims to give future students an immediate understanding of which universities perform the best across 30 different subjects.

Related links:

•    Department of Accountancy
•    Department of Finance
•    Department of Communication Studies
•    Department of Education
•    Department of Sociology and Anthropology
•    QS World University Rankings by Subject 2013
•    Methodology for the QS Rankings by Subject

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Communication Studies Scholars Awarded New Research Chairs

Posted: April 3rd, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Kim Sawchuk and Dr. Krista Geneviève Lynes, who have both recently been awarded new research chair positions.

Dr. Kim Sawchuk | Image © Concordia University

Dr. Sawchuk now holds a Concordia University Research Chair (Tier 1) in Mobile Media Studies, a first of its kind in Canada. Sawchuk directs the Mobile Media Lab, which is dedicated to the critical and creative investigation of mobilities across the humanities, social sciences, fine arts and the sciences. Many of the projects in the Lab that Dr. Sawchuk is currently undertaking explore the use of geo-located media for research on urban environments, digital storytelling, and cultural activism.

Related links:


Dr. Krista Geneviève Lynes | Image © Concordia University

Dr. Lynes is the new Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Feminist Media Studies and she will soon be running the Feminist Media Studio, which will support the creative and critical engagement with historical and contemporary forms of politically-engaged feminist art, documentary, independent cinema, and media activism in a globalized world. Through its creation, students and faculty—along with associated scholars and cultural producers—will have access to production and post-production facilities that draw from the complex histories of feminist art and activism.

Related links:

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Researchers from Concordia and MIT undertake a large-scale study into player demographics

Posted: January 7th, 2013

From Gran Turismo to WWE SmackDown, sports-based video games represent a wide variety of pursuits. When it comes to the people who actually play those games, however, little is known. How do sports video game players fit their games into a larger sports-related context? And how does their playing of video games inform their media usage and general sports fandom?

Mia ConsalvoThat’s what Concordia University communication studies Associate Professor Mia Consalvo sought to discover when she embarked on a large-scale study of video game players, the results of which were recently published in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.

Along with Abe Stein and Konstantin Mitgutsch from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Consalvo, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design, conducted an online survey of 1,718 participants to pin down demographics, habits, attitudes and activities of sports video game players.

The researchers found that the majority of those who play sports video games are male (98.4 per cent), white (80 per cent) and in their mid-20s (average age of 26 years). In comparison with other representative video game player demographics, the field is less diverse and the average player is younger. Based on the data about the larger game-playing population, it seems that the sports gamers are drawn from a more traditional demographic of game players, at least when it comes to console and certain personal computer-based video games.

“Perhaps one of the biggest findings to emerge from this study is unsurprising, but finally documented,” notes Consalvo. “The overwhelming majority of sports gamers – 93.3 per cent – self-identify as sports fans. That identity pushes beyond the playing of sports-themed video games. Attending sporting events, watching them on television, participating in those activities themselves as well as following certain teams or sports were regular parts of their daily lives.” 

Consalvo says she hopes to gain more insight into why there is little diversity in the player demographics, and why female players are in a minority. “While this study provides new insights into who sports video game players are and what they play and why, we still lack knowledge on how these players relate their passion for video games to their sports fandom in general,” she says. She hopes to address these questions in her forthcoming book, co-authored with Stein and Mitsgutsch, titled Sports Videogames.

Update: Maria Consalvo was interviewed on March 4, 2013 on Global’s Morning News. You can find the video here.

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Faculty Members Awarded More Than 3 Million in Research Funding

Posted: September 7th, 2012

Research Grant AwardCongratulations to our fulltime faculty, who in the last 2 years, have successfully received external research funding for research, research-creation, and media arts from agencies including SSHRC, FQRSC, NCE Grand, CFI, CIHR, Canada Council, CALQ, and the Reynard Program, among others.

Internal research projects and initiatives have also been awarded from numerous programs through the Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies and the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Through these various competitive awards, Communication Studies Faculty are developing innovative scholarly and creative projects that are making major contributions to communication studies, cultural studies, media studies and the fine arts.

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Communications Studies Welcomes Postdoctoral Research Fellow Normand Landry

Posted: September 14th, 2010

Normand Landry is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, where he holds a postdoctoral scholarship from the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC).

Before coming to Concordia he was affiliated with Media@McGill unit for critical communications research (McGill University) and the Communication Policy Research Laboratory (LRPC) at Université de Montréal. His current work focuses on abusive lawsuits, social movement theory, law and democratic communications. He will be working with Prof. Leslie Shade.

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Communication Studies Researchers Return from Successful Visit at the Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia

Posted: March 15th, 2010

Members of the Mobile Media Lab, Director Kim Sawchuk, Owen Chapman, Leslie Shade and Rae Staseson, were guest researchers at the Multimedia University, Faculty of Creative Multimedia, in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.

Dr. Kim Sawchuk had previously been a guest scholar in November 2009 and helped to develop, along with Dean Harold Thwaites of the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, a memorandum of cooperation for research exchanges between MMU and Concordia. In February Sawchuk, Chapman, Shade and Staseson were part of the official signing ceremony of the memorandum of cooperation with MMU President Dr. Zaharin bin Yusoff.

The busy week of activities and exchanges consisted of various meetings with undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff; public presentations/exhibitions, performances and screenings; and meetings off campus with media artists from Kuala Lampur. This successful research trip is the beginning of numerous future projects and exchanges between Concordia and MMU.

The exchange was funded by a Faculty Mobility Program grant from the Vice-President, Research & Graduate Studies.

Click here for more images from the exchange.

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