Saturday, September 21, 2013

"What Does the Fox Say?": A Theoretical Research Analysis

Recently a high quality and thought-provoking song, commonly called "What Does the Fox Say?" came to youtube, changing people's lives everywhere. With over 44 million views, it's sure to hit the hall of fame right up there with Gangnam Style. Today I'd like to emphasize a quality of the song that I fear even many enthusiasts may have missed. Just in case you haven't seen it yet, I included it below so you can be informed.

The quality I'm referring to is the blatant setup of the song. It has clear reference to a theoretical research paper, possibly a dissertation. Allow me to explain. In graduate school, we talk about theoretical research's nuances, uses, shortcomings, and idealizations. I'll break it down by parts to make it easier.

Literature review: In a research project, this is the part of the paper wherein the author discusses related information and what is already known. Ylvis, the scholar responsible for "What Does the Fox Say?", accomplishes this masterfully in the lines: "Dog goes woof; cat goes meow; bird goes tweet; and mouse goes squeek ... and the seal goes ow ow ow ow ow." As you can see, I left out the middle of the brilliant line of poetry because to capture its full effect, you'd have to actually watch the video. If you haven't watched it yet, please do so before continuing to the next point.

Research question: After providing the background research and context, it's only natural to present the research question. This is the inquiry you're trying to answer through all of you reading and experimentation. In the above song, the research question is most aptly stated: "What does the fox say?" We are even reminded throughout the piece what, in fact, the research question is.

Hypothesis: As you may know, this part of the research project is the author's conjecture as to the outcome of the experiment. This is something Ylvis paid particular attention to. He cites a large number of hypotheses including, but not limited to: "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!", "Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!", and "Tchoff-tchoff-tchoffof-tchoffo-tchoff!" In my humble opinion, he should have chosen one or two. But his project got 44 million views. Who am I to judge?

Significance of Project: A research project is hardly worth tackling without a clear reason. In this case, the reason is clear. The fox is his guardian angel, so great-jars-o-gumdrops Ylvis wants to know WHAT THE FOX SAYS. Any further discussion of this point is unnecessary.

Methods: Also referred to as experimental design, this step in the process exists to explain the researcher's steps to answering the research question. Unfortunately, Ylvis's methods are less than exemplary. He makes some vague references to the fox's supposed location, but he offers no plan of action for finding it. He says, "The secret of the fox... ancient mystery. Somewhere deep in the woods—I know you're hiding. What is your sound?" So does Ylvis plan experimentation? Content analysis? Surveys? He seems to be implying a direct observation, but again, there is no exact explanation of his projected methods for experimentation.

Annotated bibliography: Scientific research calls for strict adherence to APA Style 6th Edition. Unfortunately, Ylvis not only appears to be ignoring this rule but also he doesn't even include an annotated bibliography! Where did he get these facts? In what article did he learn that cats say meow? I'm just waiting for someone to accuse him of plagiarism. I don't want to be there for that lawsuit.

Conclusions/Data Analysis: Because neither of these are present in "What Does the Fox Say?" we can only assume that Ylvis intended his piece to be a project proposal. If the 44 million views are any indication, I believe his project has been approved. Yes, Ylvis. In spite of your blatant disregard for APA Style, America wants to know. What DOES the fox say?