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Unveiling the Journey: From Master's Thesis Surprise to Best Paper Award - Zeynep's Inspiring Path

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Written by Christina Spetzler Gregersen and Omer Rudnick

In academia, winning a Best Paper Award is a remarkable accomplishment. Even more extraordinary is when the winning paper originates from a researcher's master's thesis, especially when the author initially believed her career path would lead her away from academia. In this interview, we dive into the winding journey of Zeynep Karagur, whose master's thesis project evolved into an IJRM award-winning paper.

An Unexpected Twist

Zeynep's journey began during her master’s thesis at Germany’s Cologne University, 2018, under the guidance of Prof. Alexander Edeling. At the time, she envisioned a career in consulting. Her thesis project on disclosure types in influencer marketing was approached with this perspective, and she had no inkling that it would eventually become a published paper. Zeynep's focus was on conducting rigorous research, meeting the requirements of her program, and gaining practical experience for her future in consultancy.

A Paradigm Shift

Despite her initial intentions, Zeynep's passion for research gradually took hold. The process of gathering and analyzing data, examining existing literature, and uncovering new insights ignited an intellectual fire within her. In addition to her interactions with the various students of Cologne, Zeynep found herself questioning whether her true calling lay in consultancy or in pursuing an academic career.

As Zeynep ventured beyond her master's thesis, she embraced the collaborative nature of research. With the support of Prof. Edeling, she was introduced to two professors at her university – Jan-Michel Baker and Kristina Klein - who had also conducted studies related to influencer marketing.

“The most important nugget of wisdom I learned from my collaborators is that the experience of the review process would not only help me with the current project, but on future ones as well.” -Zeynep Karagur

What was it that made her paper so compelling? The paper deals with trust in influencer marketing. Of all forms of advertising, influencer marketing is perceived as very reliable thanks to the positive attitude and trust consumers feel toward the influencers. However, many of the influencers are paid by brands to endorse them. The paper asks whether the information that the endorsements are sponsored should be disclosed. The answer is that... it depends. When the platform marks the posts as sponsored content, it hurts response. However, when the influencers themselves disclose the sponsorship, the effect is positive. Zenyep discusses in the paper what types of disclosure are used and what marketing strategies are used in accordance with those types.

Read the paper

Interested in reading all the details about influencer marketing? Read the full paper Here

Want to cite the paper?

Karagür, Z., Becker, J. M., Klein, K., & Edeling, A. (2022). How, why, and when disclosure type matters for influencer marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 39(2), 313-335.


Meet Zeynep Karagur

Bio & personal questions:

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: I’m originally from Cologne, Germany, so the University there was always my first option. I have always been passionate about research, even during my high school years. Exploring various topics and conducting studies sparked my curiosity and set me on a path toward academia. In addition to research, I find joy in watching and playing sports, particularly basketball. Sports allow me to unwind and stay active. Another passion of mine is writing. I enjoy expressing my creativity through fiction and poetry, indulging in the realm of storytelling.

Q: What is your current role?

A: I recently completed my PhD and am excited to begin my journey as an assistant professor in September. It's a role I have always aspired to have, as I love the idea of teaching and constantly learning from my students and colleagues. Being able to inspire and shape young minds while expanding my knowledge is truly a dream job for me.

Q: If you were not a marketing researcher, what would you be?

A: Despite briefly considering a career in consultancy, my ultimate goal was always to become a professor. The love for teaching and the desire to engage in constant learning has been ingrained in me from an early age. I believe that being a professor is the perfect opportunity to share knowledge, inspire students, and contribute to academia.

Q: Who is the researcher, from any field, you would like to sit to lunch with? What would you say to him/her?

A: I have always admired Daniel Kahneman, a prominent researcher in behavioral economics. His early books on human decision-making irrationalities deeply fascinated me. If I had the opportunity to sit down with him, I would love to discuss the intersection of happiness and money. Exploring his insights and sharing thoughts on this topic would undoubtedly lead to a fascinating and thought-provoking conversation.

Q: What is the number one question you hope to answer during your career?

A: One question that has intrigued me is creating a comprehensive map of human consumption history. Understanding how our consumption patterns have evolved over time is a captivating and ambitious goal. However, I am well aware that this is not something I can accomplish alone. Collaborating with others who share the same vision will be essential in unraveling this complex narrative of human consumption history.


This article was written by

Dr. Christina Spetzler Gregersen,

Research fellow at Deakin University, Australia

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