Details about Research Paper

1 Introduction

The aim of this research is to critique the a research paper. The title of the research paper is, Social media crisis communication: Enhancing a discourse of renewal through dialogic content. It is written by Charmaine du Plessis. Bassett and Bassett (2003) defined critiquing as a method to evaluate, criticize and appraise a literature. Therefore, in this article we will be criticizing the article with thorough analysis. This paper has been published 44th edition of Public Relations Review in the year 2018. A crisis is commonly defined as an abnormal or unforeseen circumstance that can affect individuals and groups, cause economic, and brand damage or threaten stakeholder relationships (Coombs, 2010). In the wake of the development of social media, profit, government and NGOs worldwide have been working frenziedly to identify how social networking sites can be used as effective tools in times of crisis for strategic communication. Following the IRGC workshop in June 2012, organizations such as the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) identified 12 good practices for using social media in risk and catastrophe communication, such as raising awareness and support of risks and crises, monitoring and situational awareness, and identifying survivors and victims (Wendling, Radisch, & Jacobzone, 2013).

2 Overview and Introduction of the Article

Through a case study, this empirical research explores ways to promote the development of dialog content, which is exchanged in social media. Pre-reviewed crisis communication theories relating to reputation management and image restauration in social media have been thoroughly investigated. The study further brings to notice that to date, however, there has been little work into how content could promote support for stakeholders and ties in the communication of crises.

The author discusses the results shown such that that investors are drawn to credible content when an organization engages in open, collaborative discussion on a social media platform during a social media crisis because they are concerned and actively looking for relevant information. Context content can also raise support for investors and promote building relationships to push the company forward.

3 Critique

3.1 Title, Abstract and Structure

The title of the article gives the reader a clear idea about the information that would be unfolded in the paper. It shows that the social media communication depends on dialogical communication via several mediating factors. These mediating factors, although not mentioned in the title; they have been clearly highlighted in the first paragraph of abstract.

The abstract follows a standard format. Though it is concise, the structure doesn’t allow its reader the ease of finding the aims and conclusions. One has to look for the appropriate vocabulary, such as the word “investigate” has been used in the first paragraph to show that this a part about the aim of the project. The word to-date inclines the reader towards the idea that the upcoming texts will discuss something already done on the topic of research. Findings have been used as an alternative to the word conclusion.

The sections are divided properly. Under each heading we can find relevant information. Any heading requiring further explanation has been further divided into sub-headings.
3.2 The research purpose, objectives and/or aims;

The purpose of a study is to state the reason behind the goal of the study or ‘why’ it’s being carried out. The objective of a study could be the identification, description or explanation of a situation or solution that indicates the type of study to be performed (Hill, 1974). The statement of purpose has been clearly identified in the article.

In this article the introduction contains the Background which has not been placed under a separate sub-heading but is part of the entire Introduction itself. Though this can be confusing to the reader, the author did a clean job of stating the word purpose before introducing it to the reader in the final paragraph under Introduction.

Before introducing the aim or purpose the author first highlights certain key ideas that were not explored by previous researchers by stating, “…This article puts forward relatively new perspective…”. This approach allows the reader to anticipate the steps taken by the author to cover the limitations.

The author states the purpose by stating, “…To address this gap, the purpose of the study…” allowing the reader to get a clear grasp that following is the purpose. the purpose stated over here is in detail unlike the abstract or the title but they clearly complement each other as there no additional or removal of any moderator or mediator not expressed in the title or the abstract.

The author states that, “To address this gap, the purpose of this study is to examine qualitatively, by means of a case study, how dialogic content can support a discourse of renewal not only after but also during an organizational accident, which is defused in social media.” (Du Plessis, 2018, pg. 830).

The research questions is not mentioned in the introduction but stated before Methodology. These research questions were developed from a case study which was part of the research method used, therefore they weren’t directly presented in the Introduction. There were two of them with a) How was dialogic communication demonstrated in GitLab’s communication response to its data loss crisis? b) How was renewal discourse demonstrated in GitLab’s communication response to its data loss crisis?

3.3 The research paradigm/tradition

A paradigm is the fundamental belief system and theoretical context with 1) ontological, 2) epistemological,3) methodological and 4) methods originally thought. In other words, we understand and study the reality of the world (Rehman & Alharthi, 2016)
Du Plessis follows the deductive thematic approach. He starts with a tentative hypothesis to provide an answer to the problem. Then he moves unto case studies to observe and rigorously test his hypothesis.

Deductive hypothesis moves from a universal statement to a conclusion usually referred to as the singular statement. Thereby, forming a hierarchy from theoretical to observational – from an abstract to a concrete form.

3.4 Literature Review

Literature reviews are an excellent way to sum up information published on a particular subject. A review of the literature is often a good way for publications to start writing. While it can seem to be a straightforward task, writers may find it difficult to prepare manuscripts for literary examination.

A literature review has been described by Pan (2016) as “the original work on a subject based on a critique of the literature.” The essential concept is to investigate the literature objectively on the subject that you want to review. The review of the literature should not simply be a reference collection. As explained by Marshall (2007), literature reviews “appraise literature, answer key questions and draw conclusions from a wide range of available literature.

The author of the article has sub-divided the Literature review section into 4 different sub-headings. The first sub-heading has a collection of relevant literature to show the relationship between social media crises communication and dialogic studies. The literature is discussed with paper ranging from 1998 to 2016. The second sub-heading discuses literature on renewal discourse and social media. The papers date range from 1997 – 2018. However, in this part of the literature review there are more recent years’ papers discussed, which adds to its relevance. The third part of the literature review discusses literature which conceptualizes dialogic content in the context of the study being conducted on. Here only 3 papers are discussed and in comparison to other sub-parts, this is the shortest out of the four. This could imply that not much research has been conducted on the particular aspect. The fourth subheading discusses literature on the research context, which was on GitLab. Literature in this section ranged from the year 2007-2017.

3.5 Research design

According to Rochim, Donnelly, and Arora (2015), a research design is the conceptual blueprint within which research is conducted.
3.5.1 Research Approach

Research approaches include research plans and processes covering widespread conclusions and detailed data collection, analysis, and interpretation methods. This plan includes multiple determinations and does not need to be taken in the way that they make sense to an individual and the order in which they are presented (Creswell, 2013). In this paper the research has been defined as being qualitative. Qualitative research focuses on a humanist or idealistic approach to understanding a research question. Although quantitative approach is a more reliable method based on numeric methods that other researchers can make objective and propagate. A quality way of understanding the beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behavior and interactions of people is employed. It produces non-numerical information (Kalra, Batra, & Bijayini, 2013). The research didn’t produce any numerical results. It was based on changes that influenced overall performance of social media crisis performance.

3.5.2 Unit of Analysis

A unit of analysis is an individual or topic that you would like at the conclusion of your study to say something about, possibly what you find to be your study’s main focus (Decarlo, 2018). In this article the unit of analysis is ‘Dialogic Content’ as the author’s main goal it to see what effect does it have on social media crises communication. Furthermore, the author goes back ‘Dialogic Content’ even in the conclusion and states how its presence can have a positive impact on social media crisis communication.
3.5.3 Population

With respect to research design and statistical analysis, a population is the entire set of individuals to be understood or formally deduced. Defining the population of interest clearly is therefore a fundamental component of research creation, as how the population is described defines the degree to which the effects of the research effort are obtained (Salkind, 2010). The population in this case was a single organization, Gitlab.

3.5.4 Sample and Sampling Method

According to Taherdoost (2016) it is unlikely that researchers should be able to collect information from all cases to address the research questions. Therefore, a sample must be selected. The whole set of cases from which the sample of the investigator is taken is called the population. As the time and money for the entire population is missing, researchers use sampling methods to decrease the number of events.

The sample size in this case didn’t include human being but intangible objects like tweets and comments. A timeline was chosen within which range these tweets or comments were collected for sampling. The article states that the initial size was too big, so they further “cleansed” it to bring the tweet/comment count down to a sizable number.

In my opinion the population type and size is appropriate as per the requirements of this study. It would be too difficult to ask people’s opinion in this matter when it concerned mostly online social media crisis communication.

3.5.5 Methodology

The methodology section describes measures to be taken to investigate a research problem and the justification for applying specific procedures / techniques for identifying, selecting, processing and analysing information that is applicable to the problem, thus enabling readers to evaluate the overall validity and reliability of a study in a critical way. The research paper’s methodology section addresses two key questions: How have the data been obtained and produced? And how was the study carried out? The writing should be straightforward, precise and written in the past (Kallet, 2004). I personally believe that the methodology section described in detail the steps taken to ensure appropriate results.

Coherence describes the connection between the goal, the theoretical view and the position of investigators and the methods of study, analysis and assessment carried out by researchers (Vaismoradi, & Salsali, 2011). As per the definition, the author kept the methodology intact with the area of research, making sure that everything made sense. Data collection

After collection of the sample, the data was passed through a software for further cleansing, such that data which was not part of Gitlab’s lost data or weren’t in English, were removed. The author believed frequently used words highlighted an issue. To further study this, the author looked into Word Clouds to see the context in which the words were used. Data Analysis and Interpretation

Cluster analysis technique was used to identify word similarity and diversity. This method further allowed the author to look for places where words were being used relevant to Gitlab’s research.

3.6 Discussion of findings

The results were described under two separate sub-headings to answer two research questions. Under the results section, the author took the themed questioned and answered how they were able to reach the goal for each problem. A step by step approach was shown, and the unfolding of the results was done with coherence.

Under the Discussion section, results were discussed again but they were not simply repetitions. They were discussed by connecting the previous headings content in the article. However, the main aspect of a discussion, further studies, was placed under the conclusion section instead.

I personally felt that a lot of information which should have been solely under discussion were already discussed under results section. This added redundancy to the content. Each section has its importance and helps to remove confusion. For example, the two research questions needed to be answered. “How” we get these answers should be under methodology, and “what” we get as answers should be under result. Then “when” to apply should not be under results but under discussion.

3.7 Conclusion
In my opinion the paper was able to answer the research questions, however the author wasn’t very clear with the structure. In the beginning it felt like the author had a clear idea of what they were doing, but the placement of the themes under non-complementary sub-headings can make one confused about what the author wants. Furthermore, literature reviews should not be too old but if needed, the majority of the papers should be from the last 5-10 years. This adds to the authenticity and relevance of the research to the current times. Overall, the article made good use of headings, however it failed to follow the theme of the headings clearly which led to redundancy in information.

4 References
Coombs, W. T. (2010). Conceptualizing Crisis Communication. In The SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Decarlo, M. (2018, August 7). 7.3 Unit of analysis and unit of observation – Scientific Inquiry in Social Work. Retrieved from
Du Plessis, C. (2018). Social media crisis communication: Enhancing a discourse of renewal through dialogic content. Public Relations Review, 44, 829-838. Retrieved from
Hill, R. A. (1974). Beckingham, P., Davis, F. V., Kekalos, D. Anecdotal reports, exhibits, and structured interviews.
Kallet, R. H. (2004). How to write the methods section of a research paper. Respir Care., 49(10), 1229-1232. Retrieved from
Kalra, S., Batra, P., & Bijayini, J. (2013). Qualitative research in midlife health. Journal of Mid-life Health, 4(3), 198. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.118993
Marshall, G. (2007). Writing review articles. Radiography, 13(1), 2-3. doi:10.1016/j.radi.2006.09.004
Pan, M. L. (2016). Preparing Literature Reviews: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Oxfordshire, England: Taylor & Francis.
Rehman, A. A., & Alharthi, K. (2016). An Introduction to Research Paradigms. International Journal of Educational Investigations, 3(8), 51-59. Retrieved from
Salkind, N. J. (2010). Population. In Encyclopedia of Research Design (p. 1053). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Taherdoost, H. (2016). Sampling Methods in Research Methodology; How to Choose a Sampling Technique for Research. SSRN Electronic Journal, 5(2), 18-27. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3205035
Trochim, Donnelly, & Arora, K. (2015). Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Vaismoradi,, M., & Salsali, M. (2011). Coherence in qualitative research. Advances in Nursing & Midwifery, 20(70), 2383-3750. Retrieved from
Wendling, C., Radisch, J., & Jacobzone, S. (2013). The Use of Social Media in Risk and Crisis Communication. OECD Working Papers on Public Governance. doi:10.1787/5k3v01fskp9s-en

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