IF PEOPLE in the field of “hard” sciences and technology have ways to explain their research not just in the traditional manuscript-type but also through their physical inventions and models; the closest counterpart in communication research is through making films, create a novel, or perform a dance or theatrical play.
In 2015, Nick Sousanis received his doctorate in education at Columbia University in 2014, when he wrote and drew his dissertation everything in the form of graphic novel or comic book.
Meanwhile, the journal of Visual Communication, do not only accept researches from the traditional manuscript form, but also acknowledged visual academic discourse through “Visual Essays,” and have set guidelines on how to submit one's work.
In the Philippines, despite being conscious of educational laurels, the common forms of research work, not only in communication research, are through the traditional manuscripts, data gathered with statistical treatment, or qualitative methods only showing diagrams.
So far, there has no Philippine-based journals or conferences that caters to alternative platforms, let alone accepting “Visual Essays” yet (maybe there is, but I have not much heard of), until experiencing the ASEANnale conference in University of the Philippines Diliman in 2018, where films and other multimedia works are part of the whole academic discussion and in itself a work of research.
Because in the current “research scene,” most film thesis and other creative works derived from researches, are being exhibited through art galleries or film festivals should the makers decided to join in one, and not so much in Philippine conferences, let alone in academic or technical journals.
We are being taught that research is about contributing to the many branches of knowledge. Thus, in the academia and industries that value research, they record these findings through journals and conferences.
This is also true in Communication Research.
But knowledge - it is not monotonous - but rather have many types. And knowledge can't be substantiated without human intelligence, which as previous researches suggested, that there are as many as nine main types of intelligence. This means that research, too, should have diverse outputs especially in the manner it is presented.
While even in production thesis, writing remains important and a core component, the produced output is seldom being acknowledged, based on experience, especially if you belong in an environment with people who are “traditionalist generics,” or people who often resort to surveys and statistic researches, or generic qualitative methods with diagrams.
Most journals and conferences, often highlight the manuscripts, its tables and figures, even on posters. And again, for the Philippine setting, there is very little regard to discuss academically or credit them in the faculty's credits, the creative works being equivalent to research works.
Going on with the challenge
There is a need to promote alternative platforms or avenue to present and discuss research works, platforms that will be acknowledged as equivalent to a full research made by the researchers.
However, governing bodies have yet to be convinced on this, that is why there is also a need to have a paradigm shift in education institutions, and the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) should lead the path, so that a new policy will be made in acknowledging alternative platforms.
Maybe Ched have made such policy, however it may not be enough to set directions to universities and colleges.
The other challenge, however, is that in the Philippines, the general notion of most traditionalist academics is that you are not “researcher” enough if it's not presented in the traditional format: papers in statistical formula, tables, figures, surveys etc.
There is this feeling of bias and discrimination to those who do alternative platforms, because for one, some people in the academe (and quite ironic they are there when they have this myopic views) do not know how to classify such.
Assuming, you have a research, and it is presented through musical exhibition, for those working in the academe, it is a necessary that researches have to be counted, but because some traditional purists don't see this musical exhibition as a work of research, it may not be regarded as a full research work (sounds stupid, right? And to think, some of them finished graduate degrees).
Most readers may not find this relevant, unless the one reading this belong to the academia or research industry.
But we have children, who are mostly going to schools, and trying to get degrees. They will stumble on their research works because their curricula say so. Some are struggling, some are losing confidence, even felt that they are not intelligent enough because they can't cope with the traditional research approaches.
While it is still important to learn and practice the traditional methods, students should also explore other alternative methods or platforms to show how they understood their research works, because, once again, we all have different kinds or types of intelligence.
And who knows? Through this we can solve the social ills that’s been preventing us to fully grow and become progressive.