Starting to create a data collection/analysis workflow... Not there yet.

Most of my blogging has been micro this month, which is appropriate since I’m hosting my blog on now. It has really made a difference in my comfort level and ease-of-blogging; much lighter weight than WordPress. I don’t feel like I have to have a 1000+ word essay to bother posting (obviously).

I do want to get back into longer form, though. The reason I haven’t this month is because at the beginning of the month I was getting ready for my dissertation proposal defense. As soon as I passed that, I had to write my Institutional Review Board application. Once that was done, I had to write an application for a dissertation completion fellowship. And then when that was done, the IRB application came back with 7 revisions I needed to make. I did that this morning.

I didn’t think all this stuff would take 3 weeks. I thought it would be done in the first week of the month, that I’d sail through IRB (more the fool me!), and then be doing data collection already. I also thought that during that brief wait from IRB application to IRB approval (again, haha, brief, apparently they’re moving very slowly lately), I’d come up with a beautiful data collection and analysis workflow.

Let me tell you what. Based on my quick Googling and visiting my favorite resources on academic writing (okay, my one favorite, Raul Pacheco-Vega’s blog) and my lit review, people really don’t want to share the nitty gritty details of their qual data collection workflow/process. Usually, when I bump up against something like this, my instinct is to then be radically open with my own process and create a resource other people can use so they don’t have this problem. (See: the Intellectual Freedom Toolkit I created with W. when there was a book challenge at the school library where I worked.)

But, well, for now, I’m at a loss as to where to start. I went back to my syllabi for what we call babydocs at SILS, and it had some good stuff for navigating the early part of a PhD, but not as much project management lit as I would have liked. I’ll dig into my qual methods course syllabi next, but I suspect they won’t offer much either.

Everybody wants to tell you: 1. why a given research design is appropriate 2. big picture how to do those methods And of course those are SUPER IMPORTANT!

But whoever is writing about like… Where they put their memos, and stuff - how they organize their workday when they’re doing fieldwork - esp. virtual fieldwork - well, I haven’t found those people yet. I’m sure someone must be writing about it. Not sure how much time I’ll spend before developing my own systems.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • I’ll probably take field notes in my personal physical notebook, originally.
  • Then I’ll transcribe those into MaxQDA I guess?
  • I’ll use a digital recorder to record interviews and panels, then import and transcribe those in MaxQDA, too.
  • MaxQDA has space for coding memos, but I don’t know if there’s good spots in there for reflective memos, so I need to check into that. (Also I’m thoroughly pissed at myself that I can’t find my favorite qual research textbooks - Goodall’s Writing the New Ethnography and Coffey and Atkinson’s Making Sense of Qualitative Data. I might need to do some deep decluttering in the next week or so to try to track them down.) If MaxQDA doesn’t have a good spot for coding memos, I guess I’ll write reflective memos in… I don’t know. Word? I might do it in Scrivener though.
  • I’m definitely going to read some advice on dissertating with Scrivener.
  • I think I can pull webpages into MaxQDA, too, so that will be helpful.

Anyway. None of this process is helped by an extreme lack of sleep and hormones running wild, so. Might just call today a win with the whole IRB resubmission thing and cut myself a break.

Anyway, soon, I’m planning to write a proper Dissertating in the Open post about writing and defending your dissertation proposal, so stay tuned!

Kimberly Hirsh @kimberlyhirsh