How does a researcher learn how to conduct good research without a lot of trial an error? I think the answer is that without failure it doesn’t happen. Such was the case with non-participant field observation. What successful nice was that I manage to get a lot of notes. What was a failure was my expansion write up. Ungh. I barely had time to transcribe all of the information before I had to turn it in. I tell you, sometimes grad school can feel like a bit of a pressure cooker. Well, my notes have been workshopped and now I am waiting for the results. The good news is that I have to do a participant observation next and I feel so much more prepared for it. I just hope it didn’t cost me my grade for how badly the first part went.
Well this week, I finished all of the readings I could get my hands on for grounded theory. Now, I am going to take a temporary shift to look at narrative inquiry and then move into phenomenology. It seems like I am starting to get my brain wrapped around this stuff and still it feels a little like I am on a taffy machine.
I am in a class this semester that is all about learning coherence therapy. Wow. I am not the kind of person who is sold on words like “gold standard” when it comes to therapy. As a matter of fact when people have to use superlatives to describe their deal when contrasting it with someone else’s, I get very squeamish very quickly.
I have been looking for a treatment modality that is scientifically grounded, constructivist congruent, phenomenology sound, and humanistically concerned. Basically, I have been looking for all of the things that make up who I am as a therapist. Now, I think I finally have it. Also, let me be the first to admit it, I am awful at it. It is like learning a new language or a new way to think because it flies in the face of standard treatment modalities. I may be new at it now, but one day, yes one day I will be conducting research using coherence therapy. I am sold, now if I could just get good at it so that I can effectively use it with clients I would be a very happy person.
I manage to gather my first non-participant observational data this weekend. It only lasted 20-minutes and I found it so difficult to stay focused. It really was an interesting chore. Add to that, I was trying to get as many details as possible that I hope I didn’t miss too much.
Next week, I plan on doing my participant observation and seeing how that goes. It makes life easier that this a practice run and that I am not really gathering data for a “real” research project and still, I find that I am nervous because the assignment will require more from me than I would normally do in the given situation. In any case, I have to stay on top of these assignments or they will get away from me.
Here I am again, trying to plow through articles. I spend a whole morning (2am on) getting caught up only to get behind again. Wow this is frustrating.
Interestingly enough, I know days off are supposed to be for rest and relaxation. Time to be spent with family and laying aside the cares of the world. However, as a grad student, days off from the regular schedule are days in which I don’t get to use my regularly allocated study and research time. I lost five hours yesterday and will lose another five today (the largest chuck of time I have dedicated to reading and writing). At the moment, I am now playing catch up and with homework that is due on Wednesday. Don’t get me wrong, time with my family was great and the assignment clock does not stop when the school goes on fall break.
So, today is going to be my first attempt at a non-participant observational field study. I am nervous and part of me just wants to get it over with. I have thoughts of, what if I don’t get enough of the sensory data, what if my notes are not detailed enough, what if, what if, what if …
I wonder, does anyone feel like Starfleet scientists when they do this? Observe and don’t interfere. Something, feels weird about that concept.
I can’t help myself. For as introverted as I am, I really do love working in teams. Not self-serving, cut-throat, nasty teams. Rather, teams where the people all lock into the same goal and genuinely care about the goal. After 2 years of trying to get a team together to study human trafficking with me, I finally have one. We practiced interviewing yesterday and one of the team members will be transcribing the mock interview so that we can practice coding and memoing. It is exciting to say the least. I have to admit there is a part of me that is a bit nervous, like this is too good to be true. So, I fully plan on living in my state of research bliss for as long as it lasts.
So, in all of the mail that has come to my box in the past week or so, the latest journal of the American Psychologist was buried in a stack of junk mail. Be still my heart, I think I have found the avenue that I will be taking for chapter 2 of my dissertation. The whole thing is about the direction my study will be taking. To quote Stan Lee, Amazing.
The American Psychologist – Oct, 2014 Vol 69 Num 7
So I am in my first qualitative research class this semester. What does that mean? It means epistemology, theoretical perspective, methodology, and methods. I am slamming a ton of information into my brain and I have to say that it does not feel good. Just when I think I am caught up, I find myself behind. It is overwhelming to say the least.
Last night I found myself discussing field work. Interviews (unstructured, semi-structured), observation, and participation. The professor said something wonderful, she said to the class, you are new at this and you are going to suck at it. That is ok, everyone sucks at it the first time. This is hard for me because of my need to achieve. Maybe it is part of being a doctoral student and maybe it is the nature of people who like nerdy things. I don’t know.
What does this mean, it means I am writing in my research journal and in reality, I hope I can keep it up because it really seems important.