“Research in Cyberspace”; 11th UNESCO Chairs Program held at FWS
May 26, 2014
The 11th UNESCO Chairs Program in “Cyberspace and Cyber Culture: Dual-Spacization of the World” was held on Monday, May 01, 2017 in Iran Hall of the Faculty of World Studies.
Dr. Shahghasemi, Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tehran, chaired the program. He began his speech by talking about the pros and cons of online research and the situation in some countries. Defining online research, he said, “Online research is using cyberspace platforms, therefore, it does not necessarily entail research in online affairs; it constitutes a larger domain.”
Member of the UNESCO Chairs at the University of Tehran added, “Activities in online research have increased. This is because of two reasons. One is that, currently, many people are online. Another is that infrastructures are more reliable and there is a much more accurate analysis in the field, as it is used in voting processes, TV shows, etc.”
Providing a brief history of online research, Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences said, “During the 1960s and 1970s, online research, especially online social research, did not exist. Because, first of all, the internet was created for military purposes, secondly, it was so limited that it could not be called “social”, and, thirdly, before Windows, working with these systems was so difficult that researchers were not interested in using them. However, during the 1980s and 1990s, some creative people began doing research with DOS and other similar platforms that later on evolved into Windows. These studies grew in size in the first decade of the third millennium and, in 2008, 17 percent of marketing research was done in cyberspace.”
“During the past two decades, research in cyberspace has grown even more than before and its expansion into new dimensions of human life will definitely assist in its growth during the next years. Research in cyberspace is financially cheap. Data acquired through cyberspace research do not need re-evaluation with research software and could be directly transmitted to SPSS, IMOS, or LISREL. Due to anonymity in cyberspace, responders seek to be more honest in studies that deal with personal issues,” Dr. Shahghasemi continued.
“the Internet has provided students in poor countries with unprecedented opportunities to almost equally access valuable documented studies. Marketers can acquire strategic information about customers and video services have been able to analyze platforms and databases in order to achieve valuable information about their viewers’ taste,” he said.
Commenting on the advantages of online research, Dr. Shahghasemi mentioned issues like cost reduction, workload reduction, quick and better access to resources and information, less financial support needs for young researchers, better scientific communication between students and professors, and a better opportunity for a fair competition.
Assistant Professor of the University of Tehran introduced his online study on 1752 American responders in 50 states in the second part of his speech and said, “the above-mentioned advantages compelled me to do an online research on my favorite subject which is the American people’s attitude toward Iranians and the effects of media on this attitude. I collected 1752 online surveys, including qualitative and quantitative questions, in summer 2014. The data for these surveys were coded manually and then the findings were analyzed by SPSS and IMOS, where a model for evaluating the relationship between variables was identified. The results of this study show that about 39 percent of Americans have a negative attitude about Iranians while only 20 percent thought of positive intercultural ideas when they heard “an Iranian citizen”. In addition, the analysis of qualitative and quantitative findings show that American exceptionalism and American centralism and also the negative attitude toward Iranian government have a direct relationship with negative intercultural attitude toward Iranian people. More importantly, most American responders with negative intercultural attitude toward Iranian people tend to introduce media as their source of information while American citizens who had a positive attitude mostly were affected by personal interactions with Iranians.”
In the end of his speech, Dr. Shahghasemi answered to the questions.
After the Q and A session, Dr. Ameli, Head of the UNESCO Chairs, appreciated Dr. Shahghasemi and said, “The discussion about research methods in cyberspace is a vast area and requires that we expand the discussion. Many instruments and tools are currently available in network studies in network cyberspace and they have provided numerous opportunities for research. Issues like research reliability, the justifiability of research in cyberspace, sampling methods in cyberspace, and qualitative saturation of research findings are issues that are very complicated and require attention.”
“There are now polls that are conducted randomly and nationally in the case of presidential election and they are using phones and Telegram in order to conduct a multidimensional poll and achieve reliability,” he added.
Head of the UNESCO Chairs at the University of Tehran said, “We now see a wide range of transmission from physical space to cyberspace where research can find algorithms that could be modified to satisfy the researchers’ needs. ‘Algorithm’ is a mathematical language based on processes that are designed in a zero/one foundation. It means that when we take the first step, we can see whether it could be done or the possibility of research could be identified through the Performance Flow Chart. Zero and one also define the situation in the next steps and the path is taken until we have achieved our data objective. Algorithm field is now a large one while 45 percent of the discussions on cyberspace are about the algorithm. Therefore, it has provided a great opportunity while they are considered as live beings that act like a human brain. Just as we process data in our brains and ask for responses and wait for feedback, all these are mathematically accomplished in algorithms and due to this research in cyberspace, today has a mathematical language. One is successful in this sort of research who is capable of mathematics language. In this case, humanities are interconnected with mathematics, statistics, and programming. These fields increasingly become more important for humanities. We have to establish workshops for researchers in cyberspace in order to teach them what is needed about algorithm language.”
At the end of the program, congratulating the birth of Hazrat Abbas (AS) and Disabled Veterans’ Day, Dr. Ameli, Dean of the Faculty of World Studies, appreciated the Disabled Veteran Dr. Mojtaba Rahmandoust, Member of the Department of Palestine Studies and former MP, and said, “We owe the veterans and the disabled veterans. Whenever I see Dr. Rahmandoust standing up in courtesy and humility, I feel ashamed of myself. He was injured in one hand and one foot during the war, but I have never heard him complain. We have great humans in our country who have been injured in the neck down and cannot move, we have veterans who have been injured in both eyes, we have injured faces no one can look into. They are the unseen generation, a generation they might not have been realized, or they do not want to be seen so they can have a higher place before God.”