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QUALITATIVE METHODS WORKSHOP: Doing research creatively

  • 18.10.2022
  • Aarhus (Denmark)

The workshop will run from 9.00-18.15.

Location for both of the workshops: Aarhus University, Building 5008, Helsingforsgade 8, 8200 Aarhus N. 

Room 128H 

This workshop is part of the series of pre-conferences organised within 9th European Communication Conference (ECC) in Aarhus on 19-22 October 2022. The aim of the full-day meeting of ECREA members is to discuss various ways how to do research. The workshop consists of four sessions, each is dedicated to one particular method and run by a different speaker. However, we kindly ask you to participate in all four parts.

This workshop is intended for ECREA members and is free.

Please register as soon as possible, the number of places is limited.

9.00-11.00 CREATIVE RESEARCH METHODS (Maria Murumaa-Mengel)

The creative research methods approach is located within a broader framework, often referred to as visual research methods. Participants are asked to produce artefacts such as drawings, videos, collages, Lego-constructions, or clay figures and hence, “to spend time applying their playful or creative attention to the act of making something symbolic or metaphorical, and then reflecting on it” (Gauntlett, 2007: 3). Linear creative research design (create first, talk later) gives time for reflective thought processes, parallel creative process (create and explain simultaneously) allows the researcher to explore the thought process and creation, too. Creative research methods allow an abstract topic to become more clear to participants of studies (Murumaa & Siibak, 2012), or to zoom in to tiny details on a specific phenomenon (Murumaa-Mengel, 2015).

11.00-11.15 coffee break

11.15-13.15 AUTOETHNOGRAPHY by Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

Autoethnography as a method can focus on the sense-making of individual experiences or be used to collaborate with others. This workshop will discuss the way in which autoethnography can be used to study media-related experiences. As an audience researcher, Pille’s work with autoethnography has started with audiencing – taking my personal experiences as a starting point to challenge often paternalistic approaches to audiences. However, as with many open research approaches, with autoethnography, one does not always know where the knowledge explorations can take you. In the workshop, she will give a brief introduction to the key points of autoethnography and what to do with it. She will then invite three moments of collaborative autoethnography in the classroom using three different styles of autoethnographic prompts. And we will close the session with reflection – what kind of knowledge creation becomes possible when we are ourselves subjects of our inquiries with the help of different techniques.

13.15-14.00 Lunch (self-serving)


In this workshop, researchers will directly engage with creative methods both as research methods in their own rights, and as a way to achieve a basic understanding of the main methodological and epistemological tenets of urban ethnography for urban media studies. In particular, they will experiment with the production of visual (photographic) materials and with the related adoption of a “photographic gaze” to gain an understanding of the reflexive and de-naturalizing observation perspective of urban ethnography. The approach, described in details in Tosoni-Stiernsted 2016 - entails 3 steps: first, researchers will be introduced to the main theoretical issues within urban media studies that are today addressed through the ethnographic approach, so to allow them to structure their observation of urban space and of urban daily life around e defined set of research question; second, they will be asked to produce photographic materials that could help improving our understanding of the theoretical issue behind these research questions; Finally, these visual materials will be collectively discussed, so to make explicit their meaning for the theoretical issues at stake. This final discussion will also be the occasion to reflect on the limitations, and of the possible ways to overcome them, of the adoption of visual creative methods in urban ethnography for urban media studies.

16.00-16.15 cofee break


In this workshop we explore how and when “writing a letter” can be used to gain unique insight into the experiences and emotions of people. Inviting research participants to share their experiences and emotions in this form allows people reflect in their own language of the participants, giving insight into what matters to the participants. In the workshop, we will practice with this method, by writing letters ourselves, and reflecting on the process and the outcome. Also, we consider when letters may be a good method, and what the limitations are. We also collectively explore how we can share the research insights in a way that does justice to the personal nature of the data collection process. For examples of this method, see Witschge, Willemsen and Deuze (2019).

Lecturer Bios

Maria Murumaa-Mengel is working as an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the Institute of Social Studies. She is involved in research focusing mainly on young people’s use (and non-use, going “off the grid”) of social media, different literacies (e.g. digital, MIL, social media, information resilience) and various online risks (e.g. information disorders; gendered online hate, online shaming, online child sexual abuse and grooming). Furthermore, Maria is interested in the methodological aspects of collaborative creative research methods and the ethical considerations in studying sensitive topics. Maria Murumaa-Mengel’s main strengths lie in teaching activities and connections with the educational field. She teaches and designs courses in Estonian and in English and has taught over 75 different courses over a decade in higher education. She is the recipient of 2020 National award for the Teacher of the Year (in the category of higher education). Since Maria’s doctoral studies she has been interested in the methodological opportunities and pitfalls of qualitative visual and creative research methods, leading to the publication of several study materials and chapters in handbooks (Murumaa-Mengel, 2014; Murumaa-Mengel & Siibak, 2017; Murumaa-Mengel, 2020).

Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt is a professor in media and communication at Malmö University since November 2016 and has previously worked at the University of Tartu as a professor in media studies (2014-2016). She is a member of Academia Europaea Film, Media and Visual studies. Her research interests have focused on cultural citizenship and participation and engagement in museums, libraries and public broadcasting. She has also worked on the topic of internet users and the social applications of new technologies. Methods like autoethnography, action research and collaborative and co-creation methods have been increasingly at the core of her research. She has been an active member in the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and in NordMedia networks. Pille is currently the international director of the European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School. She has been the project leader on different local projects and international projects. These projects have had her working on new and emerging technologies, youth participation and museum engagement questions. She has published over a hundred articles both in journals and as book chapters and has been in the team of editors for more than ten books. She is currently co-leading the Digital Culture stream at the Data Society research programme focusing on the questions of museums and audiences.

Simone Tosoni is Associate Professor at the Department of Communication and Performing Arts at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC), Milano, Italy, where he also obtained his PhD in Sociology. He teaches courses on sociology of cultural process and on digital media, and his main research interests span across the field of urban media studies, with a special focus on media engagement out of home, in mobility and in urban space; in subcultural studies, with a particular focus on virtual scenes; and on social practices. He is currently working on media-machines and social robotics, and on the production and circulation of knowledge rejected by the scientific communities on social media. Within ECREA, he has co-founded and chaired or co-chaired the Temporary Working Group Media & the City, until its acceptance as a permanent session. He has also lectured at the ECREA Summer School, contributing to the organization of its Milanese editions (2016-2018).

Tamara Witschge is professor of Creative Media for Social Change at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Until 2021 she held a chair in Media and Cultural Industries at the University of Groningen, and before that worked at Cardiff University and Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work highlights the importance of wonder, doubt, and empathy in understanding current social issues and explores how we can facilitate more inclusive and sustainable societies through creative media and creative research methods.



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