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Methodology, Coding, Bias, New Religious Movements


In this article we explore the Religion on an Ordinary Day (RoD) methodology in detail. The RoD project collected news stories published on September 17 over the period of three years (2013, 2014, 2015) in Australia, Canada, Finland, and the United Kingdom. We consider our decisions regarding the variability of language, researcher bias, and intercoder reliability in data collection and coding and the implications of those decisions. We offer a case study that analyzes references to New Religious Movements in the news. We considered the intentional choices, unintentional choices in the forms of accidents and misunderstandings, as well as unconsidered choices that may reveal the biases and assumptions of the coders. The article concludes by making several recommendations to address these challenges in future studies.


This article was originally published by Brill in the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture on 9 November 2021.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the New Religious Movements. Minorities, and Media Conference, University of Montreal, March 17- 18, 2016. The authors extend thanks to Solange Lefebvre and Massimo Introvigne among others who offered us valuable feedback.