For my Technical writing class, my class was assigned to gather information on what people knew of cheetah reintroduction into India and what they wanted to know. The data listed below is the results I will be using to decide what information to present to my readers. . . .
Based off of this study, I would prefer to be an informer for those that are uninformed about the subject. Things that should be considered when informing others about this subject would be information about other endangered species like the tigers, leopards, and lions, how these carnivores will affect each other and the species they feast upon/interact with. Scientists don’t often take into consideration what the readers want when writing about the plan to reintroduce the cheetah into India and that is where they could do a better job.
The cheetah species we have today is dwindling from the great numbers that used to roam the earth. Countless people have come together to slow this decline and it has made an impact. Laurie Marker and many others gathered together to make a difference for this species so that they can run with the wind along the grasslands of tomorrow. Now that they are better stabilizing the African cheetah, they are moving to a new project; reintroducing the cheetah back into India. A question many discuss and argue, will it be a positive or negative decision? It is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Rushing into a decision of this magnitude could have an effect on not only the cheetah itself but also, the people, the government, other species and even the landscape. It is based on my knowledge of the subject as well as the species that I hypothesis that the species will need time to adjust to their new environment; with time they will adjust accordingly to their new habitat with the help of the people. The reintroduction of the cheetah into India will help scientists everywhere gain a better understanding of how species respond to introduction or reintroduction into a new habitat. Other big cat species when thought of in their natural habitat has helped bring more awareness and restoration to the ecosystem in which they live; despite being extinct from India for roughly 60 years, the cheetah is the future hope for the fading Indian grasslands (Burke, 2010). It will further inform us of how native species respond to unfamiliar or invasive species, how humans respond to unfamiliar species as well as how the ecosystem is affected. The information gained from this experience could be used for later reintroduction cases.
It is important for the government to have a detailed understanding on the species, it’s ecosystem as well as how they interact; however, it is also incredibly important to have a knowledge about the citizens, their standpoint on the debate while not excluding the people of the world that care about this dispute. Before rushing into a situation like conservation work it is good to understand the people that will help support the plan. In other words things to consider would be the readers’ positions and knowledge on the subject, their attitudes and any communication preferences. You cannot expect to move forward if you don’t gain a better understanding of those that are interested or are interconnected in a particular subject; it is also possible that if not considered, others could push against you. It is through gaining a better understanding of the audience for big cat conservation and knowledge on what the audience cares about that we hope to move forward in what information should be presented.
When it came to creating a survey (Appendix 1), things that were considered to gather research included the readers’ positions and responsibilities, their knowledge of the subject, their attitudes towards the subject and writers as well as any communication preference. Once the appropriate questions had been created from what needed to be gathered, the survey was created and spread to different locations such as Facebook, emails, blogs and websites where it could be answered accordingly. It was made a point to include not simply just qualitative data but also quantitative data; this included both open and closed questions. Over the span of roughly three weeks, the questions would be answered.
Appendix 1: Survey Questions
1. What is/are your favorite form(s) of non-online scientific communication, if any?
2. What is/are your favorite form(s) of online scientific communication, if any?
3. When reading about science do you…
4. What do you feel are important aspects of an article?
5. How much do you value big cat conservation?
6. How knowledgeable are you about big cat conservation?
7. How much do you know about the proposed plan to reintroduce cheetahs into India?
8. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed plan to reintroduce cheetahs into India?
9. What are your main concerns, if any, with the proposed plan to reintroduce cheetahs into India?
10. What questions do you have, if any, about the proposed plan to reintroduce cheetahs into India?
11. What do you feel is your role in big cat conservation? Explain
12. What is your ultimate goal for big cat conservation? Explain
A survey with twelve questions was posted on Facebook, email and websites. There was a total response count of 76; however, not everyone was required to respond to every question, so most of the questions had less than the total 76. There were three types of questions presented: questions one through four asked to check all that apply, question five through eight asked the readers to choose one response and questions nine through twelve asked short answer type questions.
The first question asked about the audiences’ favored non-online scientific communication which had eight options to choose from. Of all of the choices, Movies and Documentaries (63.2%) as well as Television (59.2%) were picked the most often. The second question asked about online scientific communication. Of the six choices, online news sites (53.3%), social network sites (46.7%) and online scientific articles (46.7%) were chosen the most often. The third question pertained to how much of a scientific article the readers chose to read or found most important. The question presented them the option of choosing as many of the seven answers that they found true. Of all of these choices, the answers chosen most often were skimming the article for the most important information (54.8%) and reading the entire article (53.4%). The fourth question asked the audience to specify what they found to be the most important part of a scientific article. When analyzing the eight options, the answers chosen most often were information and facts (91.8%) as well as supporting evidence (75.3%).
The fifth question, presented in Table 5 below, asked the audience their value of big cat conservation. This question presented them with four options in which they had to choose one answer. The answer chosen the most often by far was that of high value (72.5%). The sixth question (Table 6) asked the readers to specify the level of knowledge they possessed on big cat conservation. This question presented four options and followed by asking them to explain how they gained it. Of the options, basic knowledge (46.5%) was chosen the most often. Despite the fact that there were 71 responses for this question, only 30 chose to further explain how the knowledge was gained. From these responses I found that most of them gained their knowledge through internships/volunteering or schooling. Question seven (Table 7) asked the readers a more focused question in big cat conservation. This question wanted to know how knowledgeable the readers were on the reintroduction of the cheetah into India which presented four choices and later asked them to specify where this knowledge was obtained. Of all the choices, no knowledge (58.8%) was chosen by far the most often. Despite 68 people choosing to answer this question, only 16 explained how they obtained this knowledge. Examining these responses revealed that most of the knowledge was gained from CCF, the cheetah conservation fund in some way whether it is through interning or their website. Question 8 (Table 8) further asked about the audiences position in the discussion of cheetahs being reintroduced into India. The question presented six options for the readers to choose from varying from disagreeing to agreeing to even no placement in the dispute. Of all the responses, most were neutral (26.5%) or chose to agree (36.8%).
The remainder of the questions (9- 12) didn’t ask the audience to choose an answer, rather to answer to their pleasing. Moving onto question nine, the audience was asked to explain their concerns about cheetah reintroduction. Exploring the various responses, the answer I came across most was concerns about the interaction of cheetahs, humans, other species and the habitat. A large majority of people were most concerned for the cheetahs themselves and how they will handle being reintroduced. Question ten asked the audience to specify any questions the respondents had about the subject. Reading through the responses presented the most asked question involved the wellbeing of the cheetah and how it will handle or be taken care of in its new habitat. Question eleven asked the audience to explain what they believed to be their role in big cat conservation. Analyzing the responses, most believed their role to be an informer; to help those uninformed become more aware of the situation taking place. For the final question, the audience was asked to specify what they want most for big cat conservation and the reintroduction of the cheetah into India. Of those that responded, the most popular response was for not only cheetahs but also big cats to not be on the endangered species list; for the cat species to be stable enough to survive in the wild without the help of human interaction.
Something to be considered while analyzing the results is the fact that the survey was only available to respond to for roughly three weeks and could only be answered by those we sent the link to. Those concerned with big cat conservation is few and far between, making it difficult to get proper data on the audience. The data would have been more reliable if the survey had been available to those that are against, for and neutral towards the subject. Based on the information, not enough people against the argument could get to the survey to answer; so there was a very biased trend toward the responses.
While reviewing the results, it was noticed that it is preferred by the readers if the articles and subjects they wanted to be informed about be on Television or in movies or documentaries for non-online communication sources. While for online communication sources, those that do read scientific articles claimed that the articles or subjects they read about were found on online news sites, social networks and scientific journal websites while being sure to include supporting evidence to back up the information and facts stated. Particular information that the audience wants to know that others have failed to better inform them about is the wellbeing of the cheetah and how it will handle or be taken care of in its new habitat. The articles most come across only mentioned generic information about the landscape, how they believe the cheetah will grasp the change and what the community intends to do if something goes wrong. Concerns on the subject of cheetah reintroduction involved the interaction of cheetahs, humans, other species and the ecosystem. Basically, the audience wants to know information and facts about the plan, the ecosystem they intend on reintroducing them into and how it will affect the cheetahs but also including how the reintroduction of the cheetahs into this new habitat will affect the various species already occupying it. The audience doesn’t particularly want any feature more then another while reading, just viable information they can use to inform others.
Most readers possessed a high value for big cat conservation. For the most part, a majority of those that claimed to put big cat conservation in high esteem knew very basic or intermediate knowledge about the subject; however, when diving into the topic of cheetah reintroduction, a very large portion of people that took the survey had particularly no knowledge. So for the most part, those that picked a side of the argument, to agree or disagree had no knowledge to base their decision off of. This is probably also why a large portion of the short answer questions were not answered; people don’t like answering questions they don’t know.
Burke, Jason. “India Approves Plans to Reintroduce Cheetah.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 29 July 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/29/india-cheetah>.