Keyword Round-up: July on

Another monthly round-up of my analytics, with increased visitors and a new paper release in July.

In July 2013, my profile and work entertained 214 “visits” in the form of page views. New visitors made up 156 of those visits—with seven returning visitors—and visitors came from 43 countries to view those pages.

Keywords by the Numbers
Sixteen keyword searches brought visitors to my pages in July. Twelve searches led to “Heroes & Zeroes” – all through Google searches. The searches from Google India, Google Australia, and Google UK (two) were ranked #1. Two searches led to “Changing the Game” and both were referred through Bing searches. One search led to “Arguably the Greatest” and one search to my profile; my profile ranked 13 in a Google search for my name “meghan ferriter.”

The searches that led visitors to “Changing the Game” concerned questions of race and ethnicity in sport. Six searches concerned the term “celebrity,” while three incorporated “narrative.” The term “athlete” also appeared in six searches.

Five searches were performed from the United States, with 2 searches each from the United Kingdom and Australia; all of these searches were performed using Google. The remaining searches were conducted from Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, France, India, Philippines, and Romania.

Here are the search terms in full and Google search rank, if applicable, in parentheses:

  • celebrity retirement sport (1)
  • impact of celebrity footballers (1)
  • “e-mail addresses and screen names allow users to” (1)
  • narrative+on+how+he+becomes+an+athlete (1)
  • celebrity athlete career change (1)
  • 10 examples of heroic narrative (2)
  • journal entries, heroes and zeroes (2)
  • why are athletes and celebrities considered heroes (3)
  • cultivation of celebrity athletes (4)
  • “sociology of sport” athlete retirement (8)
  • narrative structure of sports reports (10)
  • retired athletes in public service (10)
  • meghan ferriter (13)
  • can an athlete be a celebrity (no rank)
  • ethnicity by professional sport (Bing)
  • what are the ideological discourses that position race in sport as a significant classification of people? (Bing)

As suggested in this article, there are limits to the truth of the alert e-mail subject line: “Someone searched for you”. In July, the more appropriate phrasing for me might be “someone discovered you,” with the exception of the search on my name.

Why Followers May Not Be As Important on, a.k.a “Feed vs. Followers”
I gained 9 followers in July, which pales by comparison to the volume of page views. At first glance, this would seem like a poor rate of conversion. Yet that interpretation depends on your goals on – in contrast with one’s purpose on other social networking sites. Here’s another way to spin the low(er) follower numbers: the structure of’s platform allows communities of interest to form around subject fields very easily.

This means researchers and users can create personalized feeds based on their researching interests rather than directly following everyone working in those fields. Indeed, in my case, my work spans several fields and only one of my papers may be useful or relevant to certain disciplines. Through this tagging feature of the platform, potential followers are still receiving word of relevant work by particular researchers through the feed – that is, if it that work is tagged with the research interests into which those potential followers have opted. Of course, I still actively follow researchers and welcome others to follow me, but I am more concerned that my research findings are useful!

Papers, Posts, and Page views
Right after the Wimbledon Championship Men’s final won by Andy Murray, I uploaded my chapter about discourses of age in professional sport titled “The Age Complex.”

During the event, I made a post (similar to a status update) referencing my research. The paper is one of my thesis chapters and explores “age” as a social construction in newspaper media representations of professional football and tennis. Mediated sport discourses of international, professional sport offer a landscape constructed by, and consistently reframed by, age-related discourses that intersect with other aspects of identity – ‘race,’ ethnicity, gender, and sexuality – to create and reinforce inequality. For this reason, discourses of sport are excellent sites to examine age-related hierarchies; we can analyze them to better understand the ways in which age is a cultural resource informing broader relationships of power.

The addition of “The Age Complex” paper had a significant impact on page views in July.  Here are the breakdowns of what visitors viewed:



Age Complex 111
Heroes & Zeroes 28
The Stories They Tell 15
Changing the Game (intro thesis chapter) 3
Arguably the Greatest 1



Profile 48
Posts 3
Following 2
CV 1

My M.A. thesis (dissertation) didn’t receive any views this month, while Arguably the Greatest” only garnered one view. This suggests I may need to rethink the research interests with which these pieces are tagged and perhaps create status posts or discussion questions about their content to generate more traffic.

Referrals and Visitors
This month, I found interesting conclusions from the referrals. Continuing the trend from late June, 13 visits were referred by the blog post in which I was featured. Twenty-three visits were referred by – whether from the feed, from documents in various subjects, or from the Smithsonian Institution Archives Department page, with which I am affiliated. Search engines referred 31 visitors – a combination of the above-mentioned searches and other mail and search engines. Two referrals came through Facebook, which was most intriguing! Finally, there was one visit each from my blog and the status post during Murray’s Wimbledon Championships victory. Over 100 visits offered no referral information.

For the most part, these referrals are pushing traffic from within and through the platform. The next challenge will be to move visitors from other places in which I digitally reside, perhaps from LinkedIn, Twitter, or more traffic from this site.

Once again, English-speaking western countries led the way for visitors. Yet the numbers were much different and more widely spread than June. Fewer visits from the United States and Ireland but more from the UK. Countries like Australia, Spain, Germany, Sweden and India moved into the top spots.

The following table presents top countries by views:

United States 45
United Kingdom 40
Australia 18
Spain 12
Argentina 8
Germany 8
Sweden 8
India 7

I’ll wrap up these numbers with a quick consideration of visitor pathing or movement between my pages. Most visitors viewed one page but some viewed two separate pages. Visitors who viewed more than one page were likely to move from a paper to my profile or from my profile to an additional page.

Three visitors landed on “The Stories They Tell” and moved to my profile page. One visitor each moved from my profile to my post, from my profile to my CV, and from my profile to “Changing the Game,” my introductory thesis chapter. Finally, five visitors moved from “The Age Complex” to my profile page; one visitor moved from “The Age Complex” to my profile page and back to “The Age Complex” – twice.

Linking a paper with a trending event via a post certainly drove a great amount of traffic to my paper “The Age Complex.” If opportunity presents itself, or if there are upcoming events relating to your work, consider directing people to your work via the feed by way of status update posts.

Most traffic to my work is internal from the platform, although I did have increased traffic from search engines in July. This finding suggests that there is indeed a community of scholars at work on

Total visits (in the form of page views) to my work and pages increased from May to July by over 500% – from 40 to 214 visits/views. It remains to be seen whether or not those views are “meaningful” – in the sense of whether or not the research I am sharing is useful for other researchers in my communities of interest on

In summary: once again, keywords brought people in relation to celebrity, athletes and narrative. An additional paper coordinated with an event drove increases in visitors and doubled the previous month’s visits (June to July). Overall, this data can be useful in timing the release of my work, understanding existing audiences, and identifying which research interests I should better cultivate for increased visitor engagement.

Stay tuned for intriguing changes in August traffic in the next Keyword round up.

RDR on 10 Distinctive Qualities of Qualitative Research

Research Design Review recently summarized 10 distinctive qualities of qualitative research which succinctly capture the essence and utility of the kind of work performed by researchers like me.

In her Research Design Review piece, author Margaret Roller observes that qualitative research happens because researchers “acknowledge the human condition and want to learn more, and think differently, about a research issue than what is usual from mostly numerical quantitative survey research data.”

Below are Roller’s 10 attributes (in bold) and the reasons I consider them useful.

  1. Absence of “truth”
    • As suggested on this blog regularly, knowledge is constructed from information and in context. It is the the product of the process of research; it is not truth but rather “possibility” (plausible interpretation). I often describe my findings or interpretations as “ONE truth” or “one version of truth/reality,” emphasizing that my interpretation is well-informed but always subject to negotiation based on further context
  2. Importance of context
    • The setting, culture, research parameters and questions always influence the ways in which we can interpret data.
  3. Importance of meaning
    • Meaning is created through understanding the blooms from the intersections of many points in analysis. Roller suggests sources for meaning include “any number of variables such as: the context, the language, the impact of the participant-researcher relationship, the potential for participant bias, and the potential for researcher bias.”
  4. Researcher-as-instrument
    • The interpretations and the process of research are performed through and organized by and described through the researcher. This has many benefits including the potential for nuanced findings and “thick description” but it is also important to consider the bias, approaches, and institutional contexts of the researcher – as well as the power the researcher wields as an instrument of qualitative analysis. Remember, many choices, and therefore the exercise of power, play a role in final interpretations.
  5. Participant-researcher relationship
    • This is element of qualitative research is extremely important in performing and getting useful and accurate interpretations. Communication, rapport, and accountability all play a role in a successful participant-researcher relationship and shape the outcomes of data collection and analysis.
  6. Skill set required of the researcher
    • Perhaps the most underrated of these qualities, qualitative research “requires a unique set of skills from the researcher, skills that go beyond the usual qualities of organization, attention to detail, and analytical abilities that are necessary for all researchers,” Roller observes. She goes on to list rapport-building and active listening as further examples, but her most notable point is that specific and nuanced analytical toolkit is necessary to  “meet the demands of “messy analysis” (see below) in qualitative inquiry where context, social interaction, and numerous other inter-connected variables contribute to the realities researchers take away from the field.” This is often the most difficult thing to explain when entering a project but often unfolds without stakeholders realizing. If it’s a smooth researching process with audiences, you’ve likely brought on board a skilled researcher.
  7. Flexibility of the research design
    • Again, an extremely complicated skill to bullet point on a resume. Yet, a flexible researcher knows how to stay active and continue to derive communication while simultaneously analysing the information; second and third passes over the data will allow for even more robust findings. In other words, the intended questions may be set aside to capture the reality of the researching space and research may take iterations to flesh out hidden meanings and perspectives.
  8. Types of issues or questions effectively addressed by qualitative research
    • Especially for questions that really mean “to what extent” rather than “how much” or seeking to understand group behaviors and cultural values that emerge concurrently with or contradict official/dominant perspectives.
  9. Messy analysis and inductive approach
    • Qualitative research may start with a general question and create understanding as knowledge is being attained. Roller writes “without a doubt, qualitative research analysis is messy. The analysis of qualitative data does not follow a straight line, where point ‘A’ leads to point ‘B’, but rather is a multi-layered, involved process that continually builds upon itself until a meaningful and verifiable interpretation is achieved. The messiness of the interconnections, inconsistencies, and seemingly illogical input reaped in qualitative research demand that researchers embrace the tangles of their data from many sources. A large contributor to the “messiness” of the analytical process is the inductive method. Qualitative researchers analyze their outcomes from the inside out, organizing and deriving meaning from the data by way of the data itself.
  10. Unique capabilities of online and mobile qualitative research
    • Finally, technology allows for new techniques AND new research spaces – and supports general communication and connection (and conflict!) between groups of people. The resulting research space, as Roller suggests, offers new power dynamics between researcher and participants but also offers shared control of findings and more flexible ways to gather, respond, organize and distribute research findings.

Qualitative research is excellent for unlocking detailed case studies, understanding communication and communities, and understanding audiences and every day lives, as well as helping flush out and answer the assumptions and further questions that often emerge in quantitative analyses.

DANG: It’s on in Chicago

Last week, I received confirmation that the Digital Anthropology group – DANG – panel was accepted for the American Anthropological Association 2013 Conference. As a reminder, I’ll be discussing the necessity of conflict in refining the values and goals of a fandom online. My paper (presentation) is titled “It boils down to respect”: Defining the values of a fandom through conflict online.

My abstract begins: “Increasingly, social media allows users to connect their online behaviors to physical practices in pursuit of collective goals. In these digital public spaces, communities of practice are able to bypass geographic and temporal boundaries. For U.S. Women National soccer team (USWNT) fans, Tumblr offers a digital realm in which multimodal communication unfolds – and quite often, conflict arises. Through online ethnography and discourse analysis, this study examines conflict as essential to refining USWNT fandom values; however, conflict also jeopardizes the participatory practices that define the fandom.”

The presentation is limited in time (15 min!!), which means a very focused and limited scope of discussion. I anticipate presenting a version of the discussion I have already prepared – focusing on the specific ways in which the fandom policies the “USWNT” tag and reinforces attribution or “sources.” These activities are borne out through messaging, anonymous posts, and text posts in the tag. These are really significant moments of productive conflict and help articulate group-defined “appropriate” behavior. Yet these conflicts also threaten archiving and sharing habits; spoiler alert: some fans refuse to continue to share, while others stop using tags which are used to refresh fan knowledge. Therefore, a delicate balance of conflict must be maintained, as too much discord threatens to dry one data stream through which fandom knowledge is developed.

I’ll share more of my preparations closer to November. Get in touch if you are heading to Chicago for AAA 2013, too –

Windy City, here we come!

Doing it well: Communication and Discourse work in the fandom

In this post, I summarize specific actions and communication in a fandom in a social networking space, focusing on how discourse work can be seen in their daily activities. This post shifts focus from my recent posts relating to my work in cultural heritage in digital spaces to draw out parts of my ongoing research in the US Women’s soccer team (USWNT) Tumblr fandom.

As alluded to on my landing page, I have been conducting an ethnographic, or netnographic (Kozinets, 2009), study within the social networking and microblogging site Tumblr for the last two years. I perceive Tumblr to be a unique digital space that allows individuals to “opt in” to a community of practice – one that integrates discourses of women’s sport and soccer, media, competition and nationalism, notions of gender and sexuality, and narratives of the USWNT in daily discussions.

When individuals in the USWNT fandom share, consume, and create content, they encourage a shared group affiliation (as “fans”). Their communication occurs in a flexible, asynchronous social realm. Through choices in language, timing, media, and “tone” these fans establish a series of temporary discursive spaces to explore, express, and discuss their feelings.

Communication within the wider USWNT “fandom” project

  • actively teaches new users,
  • rewards insider knowledges,
  • allows for dissension and discussion, and
  • offers opportunities for inclusion of fans, who might otherwise be isolated from fan activity

Tumblr’s structure also facilitates distinct techniques of self-expression and specific language selections shared through tags, asynchronous communication, “reblogging,” and “asks.” Fandom activity includes discourse work and content creation.

On Tumblr, USWNT fans do the following*:

  • make text post updates from official US Soccer sources
  • post original text posts stating feelings or opinions on the team’s performance
  • post original text posts stating feelings or opinions about other people/fans in the fandom
  • make and answer anonymous questions using the “Ask” feature on Tumblr
  • share social media content from players – typically tweets and Instagram pictures
  • share images from USWNT training sessions and games
  • share images from NWSL training sessions and games
  • create GIFs of moments from games
  • create GIFs of informal moments from US Soccer official sources (regenerating and reworking discourse)
  • create specialized graphical representations with images
  • request and provide links – livestreams, presentations, videos
  • request GIFs, videos, and other information from other users
  • tag posts – categorizing and allowing content to be searched
  • police use of the tags – specifically the tag “USWNT” – by messaging and posting “rules” of tagging
  • ask for input and opinions on apparel, ticket purchases, game etiquette and moe
  • discuss the fandom and their feelings of inclusion and participation in that community

As a part of this study, it has become clear that not only is the USWNT fandom shaped by a number of resources and communication practices – and there are also differences in fandom activities at different times. For example, in February, I compared the variations in language choices some fans make during a game – or when they are “livetumbling” – and in their daily circulation of posts and reblogs.

In reblogging posts, users are clearly making decisions about which components of public meaning and insider knowledge they would like to perpetuate. When a user likes or reblogs a post about Alex Morgan but ignores another post about Amy Rodriguez, they are marking out the space and value of pieces of knowledge for the fandom.

What the USWNT fandom actually discusses and creates are representations of the USWNT, players, other fans, opponents, and other popular culture narratives. As with making knowledge, representations are devised through making choices, where fans work with discourse and other cultural materials from which interpretations may be made. Mediated sport discourse, as well as USWNT fandom Tumblr disourses, provide accounts; neither reality nor clean interpretation of events. Rather, as with discourses of mediated sport, Tumblr discourses present a version of events that speaks to broader social relationships and understandings of sexuality, national identities, gender, and imply relationships of power.

Watch this space for further discussion of the implications of these strategic communication choices in the USWNT fandom.

*This is an on-going and developing list, and certainly not exhaustive at this point!