Thursday, March 11, 2010

We've Discussed the Book ... Now You Too Can Answer the Questions!

We've read (or at least discussed) Janice A. Radway's Reading the Romance and now you, too, can answer (some of) her questions. Not by going back to "Smithton" in a time machine, but by filling in a questionnaire created by Colleen Corliss, one of Eric's MA students:
Janice Radway is the author of Reading the Romance published in 1984. Radway conducted a survey based on 16 women from Smithton who are comprised mainly of housewives. In my survey I used most of the same questions Radway used in her own research. I added in a couple questions such as age, career, and family in order to support my thesis that romance readers are not uneducated housewives looking for a escape from their unhappy marriages by reading a love story about a heroine whose life they wish they had.

I have quite a bit of research to accomplish for my paper but I would greatly appreciate any feedback you could provide. I know that the questions look as though I am generalizing romance readers but the act was intentional for the survey portion. I will be conducting interviews of romance readers to get a better understand of why we read romance novels that is quite different from Janice Radway's hypothesis.
If you'd like to answer Radway's questions and help Colleen with her research, you can find the questionnaire here. Colleen would also welcome comments about the survey, and you can leave those at the blog she's created for that purpose. Please note that once you've completed the survey you probably won't be able to go back and look at the questions, so please bear that in mind if you want to look at the questions while writing up your comment(s).


  1. This is Colleen Corliss - a second survey has been posted to my blog if you would like to participate! www.readingtheromance/

  2. Thanks for the update, Colleen.

    For those interested, here are more details:

    I have composed a second survey as a supplement to the first survey. You do not need to have taken the first survey in order to participate in this survey. I have taken into account everyone's feedback but cannot include everything in my paper. If you believe I left an important question out, let me know!

    All questions are optional. The survey is longer than the last. I will be closing the survey Saturday night, March 20th.


  3. Hi Colleen and Laura,

    Is this just a "pilot" for the survey or is this the actual thing? The reason is that as someone claiming he's going to teach Research Methods classes in job apps, I'd be worried about the quoted text in this blog post compromising the validity of the survey itself. In particular, what might be the hypothesis you are hoping to support is right there for the survey participant to read. This could affect how they fill the survey out and change the results. I'd certainly want to show with you that romance readers are highly educated and perfect in every way when putting my answers in. That means I just changed my behavior as a participant, however.

    Of course, if this is for a class with no further plans, no problem, but if I was reviewing a journal article, I'd be very concerned about the reader knowing what you wish to show beforehand.

    I also assume you are trying to recruit widely for this? The other concern is that this blog is an academic romance blog, and, as such, is a very biased sample regarding things like education level. Where you recruit for this research could be a fundamental aspect of your design. My guess is you've worked through all this, so apologies for wasting time.

    Best wishes with it! :)

  4. I'd certainly want to show with you that romance readers are highly educated and perfect in every way when putting my answers in. That means I just changed my behavior as a participant, however.

    I'm not Colleen (obviously!) so I can't answer the questions directed to her, but it strikes me that as a romance reader who's (a) aware of the stereotypes about romance readers and (b) aware of the ways in which previous surveys of romance readers have been used to bolster some of those stereotypes, I'm already primed to try to give answers which will challenge the existing stereotypes.

    I don't think I'd answer any survey about romance reading in a carefree, utterly spontaneous way, so the context in which I answer has already shaped "my behavior as a participant." Instead I'd be trying to work out if it had biases in it which might reinforce the existing stereotypes, and I'd be doing my best to challenge those (while also telling the truth). My impression, judging from the way people responded to Colleen's initial survey, and from the reactions I've seen to similar surveys, is that I'm not alone in my cautious approach to surveys about romance and romance reading.

  5. Thanks Laura - I completely agree.

    As for my hypotheses - the survey is organized to either prove or disprove my original theory which is why I am writing this paper. I want to know what other romance readers think and it is entirely possible that the readers disagree with my original hypothesis and that's okay.I'm really just here to learn, which is also why I'm in school taking a romance fiction class!

    And to be honest, my original plan for research was meant for a small group - and then it became big. Janice Radway originally surveyed 16 people. My goal was to survey more than 16 people. My first survey currently has 365 participants. Once I recovered from the shock of my results, I organized another survey to better organize all of the feedback. But I cannot possibly incorporate all feedback as I need to focus on a small point for my paper - it only needs to be 10-12 pages!

    Thank you so much for your feedback Pacatrue. If I decide to go further with my results and write more, I will keep your comments in mind.