Research Challenge- Trendspotting

The purpose of this assignment is to learn more how the terms that people search for using web search engines reflect (and even predict!) what is happening in our world. Prof. posted some examples of this on Halloween costume trends and the certain hip-shaking dance crazes. For this assignment, use Google Trends to explore what terms people have been searching for on Google You should compare the search activity for some set of related words over time and write a brief (1-2 pages) about your findings. Finding Suitable Search Terms Start by going to the Trends web page. Note that it gives a good number of suggested search terms to compare. For example, the Trends page might recommend you compare the terms “Black Friday, Cyber Monday, deals”. When you type in those terms, you will see a graph showing the relative popularity of those search terms over time. You might find these search terms interesting because their popularity has a strong correlation with what is happening in the real world: people tend to search for “deals” as the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend approaches. Thus, you will see there is a periodic nature to the popularity of each search term that matches the real world. The Trends web page will let you focus in on different time ranges and various parts of the world and shows which terms are most popular in provinces, states and cities in the U.S. or Canada or another part of the world. For example, you can compare how the term “ski” is searched for in two different countries: Australia and Switzerland. You will see that each has a seasonal behaviour where skiing is popular in each of their winters. You can also compare the relative search volume of the two: there are more skiers in Switzerland than Australia; but the search language may impact the results (there are French, German, and Italian-speaking regions within Switzerland). You should pick some subject than you are interested in and see how searches for related terms have varied over time. For example, you could compare the popularity of searching for different sports teams, music groups, products, companies, political concerns, or world events. You can pick anything you like – but try to choose one that has a connection to consumer behaviour. You will notice that Google Trends is sometimes able to automatically identify events in the News that occurred at the same time; these events may be marked on the graphs. You should compare between three and five search terms that are related to your topic (e.g., comparing searches for the words Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin would give you four search terms all related to the 2008 Presidential Election). Research Brief Submit a brief (no more than two single-spaced pages) describing what you found. Your brief should include the following points: Specify the exact query you gave to retrieve your results (e.g., the search terms, the locations, and the time frame) from Google Trends. Describe how your search terms are related (i.e., the overall subject you are investigating). Include the graph that Google Trends produced. You can save a copy of the screen/web page (e.g., using Snip & Sketch) and paste it in your report. An accurate description of the relative popularity of the search terms. For example, what is the relative ordering of popularity of the search terms? How much more popular is one search term than another? A description of the popularity of the search terms over time. Is there any seasonal or regular, periodic nature to the popularity of the search times? Is the popularity of these search terms increasing or decreasing over time? Has the relative popularity of the search terms changed at all over time? Are there distinct moments in time when the popularity of the search term has abruptly increased or decreased? Your interpretation (a subjective discussion) about the relative popularity of the search terms and their popularity over time. Why do you think some of the search terms are more popular than others? How do the search terms correlate with what is going on in the real world? What information from the other sources do you have to back up your speculations? What world events correspond to any observed peaks in search popularity? Dig more deeply using Google Scholar. Locate two articles that have the potential to inform or explain your findings from the scholarly literature. Include the APA formated references and briefly describe how they might shed insight.

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