QPMAP – Question Period Monitoring and Analysis Project Launched at CCA in Montréal!

Today, my colleague Philip Savage and I presented the first, very preliminary results from our QPMAP: Question Period Monitoring and Analysis Project in front of a great crowd of  24 engaged colleagues from across Canada at the  Canadian Communication Association’s (CCA) annual conference at Concordia University in Montréal. The CCA was part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences – an annual Canadian mega-conference which gathers approximately 8,000 academics in 70 national scholarly associations.

We were part of an excellent panel that included:

  • James Cairn (Laurier University, Brantford) & Susan Ferguson
  • Janis Goldie (Huntington University [formerly a college of Laurentian University])
  • Alex Sévigny & Philip Savage (McMaster University)

Philip and I presented the first round of analyses of very preliminary data from the QPMAP survey, which codes Question Period episodes to establish a baseline of the content, tone and civility of the communication that happens during this most public and crucial moment in the Canadian democratic process. Much of Canada’s democratic process happens behind closed doors in cabinet and caucus meetings who minutes are never published. Question Period is an exception to this – a chance for Members of Parliament to ask questions seeking information of the government.

Our data are still very preliminary and not ready for citation. They will be very soon, though – certainly by the end of the summer.

There was an involved discussion after our presentation and we received many excellent suggestions about how to improve both our methodology and our analyses. We welcome this feedback and will use it to improve future iterations of QPMAP.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the presentation was the audience’s reaction to our new COMM-Lab: Communication Metrics Laboratory. Everyone was really impressed at the inclusive nature of the research model that we have built – one that includes undergraduates as key partners in the research process from the ground floor in new projects.

Both Philip and I have the students’ interests as our first priority, so it was good to see this emphasis rewarded by praise from our CCA colleagues.


A day of writing at Le Westin in Montréal

I spent today holed up in my hotel room at Le Westin in le Vieux Montréal. It was a quiet day – I woke up really late, because it took me 8 hours to drive in from Hamilton with the crew. I was annoyed because I was tired last night and scratched one of my rims a little against the curb. One of those stupid things that really bother you after you done it, but you know – I found solutions for repairing rims on the internet, so all will be well.

So I woke up really late at 11am and wrote steadily until 7pm when my room mates came up to see if I was ready to go out for dinner. I got through the final edit of chapter 10 for Understanding Human Communication. That means that I really have only chapter 11 left, so I will do that tomorrow – and make my deadline for Oxford UP of June 1.

My next pre-occupation will be launching the Journal of Professional Communication at the Canadian Public Relations Society annual meeting in Regina Jun13-15. I am looking forward to it, as it is my first time at that conference.

So tonight we had a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Saint Denis and then a glass of wine at the hotel bar at Le Westin.

I have to say I like the Westin chain – they have the awesome leaf-shaped soap that smells so fresh. Not as nice as Fairmont’s citrusy soap, but a close second, certainly.

Tomorrow the Canadian Communication Association conference begins in earnest. It is my first visit to this one too.

A summer of firsts for me.

COMM-Lab: Communication Metrics Laboratory is LAUNCHED!

Today, we launched the COMM-Lab: Communication Metrics Laboratory, of which I am the founder and co-director with my colleague, Dr. Philip Savage.

COMM-Lab was created because of a dearth of empirical and evidence-based research on communication studies in Canada. Many scholars, practitioners and MPs have told Philip and me that more data is needed to support decisions made around communications in Canada. You can read Philip’s paper by clicking here.

I am very excited about the COMM-Lab. It will be a place for media and communication research from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. Our first focus will be on content and text analysis, capitalizing Philip’s and my shared strengths in research methodology. Philip also brings a strong background and experience in media policy and law, as well as professional and academic audience research, which will enrich the COMM-Lab immensely.

Another very big part of the lab is going to be making sure that it integrates professional academic research into the learning environment of the classes that Philip and I teach at McMaster, both in the undergrad and graduate programs.

Our first project will be on the QPMAP: Question Period Monitoring and Analysis Project. This project using content, textual and discourse analysis techniques to study the interactions between Members of Parliament during Question Period. We hope to establish a rigorous methodology for coding the linguistic-pragmatic, non-verbal, and issues-based content of the MP’s interactions.

Our second project, running concurrently, under the direction of Dr. Dong Sun, a postdoctoral fellow who has joined me from Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, deals with a comparison of coverage of various issues in Chinese and North American newspapers.

I can’t wait to start seeing results from these studies. Both are extremely promising and topical.

I also solicit the interest of any students who wish to come and become members of COMM-Lab by doing their MA in Communication and New Media, under my supervision, or by doing an undergraduate honours thesis under either my direction or that of Dr. Philip Savage. A third way you can join the COMM-Lab team is by applying for a job in the lab (yes, we do have a tiny amount of money to pay employees), by doing a CMST 3B03 communications internship, or simply by volunteering.

Any way that you would like to contribute to COMM-Lab, know that you are welcome.

If you are a potential donor or private or not-for-profit sector partner, and you would like to support our research n COMM-Lab with a financial or an in-kind donation, or if you want to sponsor a content analysis, public opinion or audience research project, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Our founding private sector partner and donor is Dr. Andrew Laing, President, Cormex Research – Canada’s leading media research and content analysis firm. Cormex brings a wealth of methodological and technical support that will enrich COMM-Lab enormously. It will also provide our student researchers exposure to private sector research. A very valuable thing for them, indeed.

Please visit our COMM-Lab website by clicking here.

We have also started a Facebook group for the COMM-Lab, which you can join by clicking here.