My Pilot Study lasted approximately 5 weeks. I collected my data using a variety of methods, namely qualitative interviewing, online ethnography (mainly on facebook), direct observation and participation. This has been a very interesting and rather uncertain period. I think it includes all the mistakes that people do as first-comers.
I did a 2 hour begginers training for inline skates today and I drew a mental parallel to my pilot study- this made me feel better both for my skating and my research. There is a certain enthusiasm at first, but on the other hand, a recognition of skills that need to be exercised and not theoretically learned. There is also fear of falling and speculation of the risk. And finally, the anticipation for the benefit of knowing how to do it (simply the pleasure of it in skating). Like skating, the pilot started with enthusiasm. At some point the possibilities seemed endless and this is where uncertainty came in. How do I keep within the bounds of my research questions?
I have now started to code my material. The first coding stage consists of primarily describing and recognising themes. I use NVivo8 (Qualitative Data software) and the program calls themes and concepts ‘nodes’. I have not figured out how to do a visual straight out of my node relationships and trees, but I have the suspicion that the program will not do this for me, I will have to draw a nice map myself. Which is fair and, in fact better, because this way I will do a map rather than a hierarchy. At the same time, transcription still goes on. Transcribing interviews takes a long time and I have decided to transcribe only the parts that are of most interest to me.
The interviews are very important to me and I have changed how they are done along the way. I will write a reflective report specifically on the interview process (this will be formaly submitted as assessment for the Qualitative Research Methods course I took this term) -how my approach changed from life history, to unstructured, to structured and whether I could have tried to do structured interviews on the first place. Even though my sense at the moment overall is that the most successful of all interviews was the structured one (the informant had the questions before out meeting and eventually gave a life history account!), I will need to complete my analysis to be certain.
My time plan for the analysis is – vacation week 1: transcribing and coding (first phase)
week 2: History of LGBT Activism and Brighton part write-up
week 3: Qualitative Analysis (phase 2)
week 4: Write up Reflective Report
week 1 and 2 of summer term: Write up Pilot Study Report
Meanwhile, I am working on the Disability, Blogging, Women chapter that will be included in the Feminist Grassroots Media in Europe anthology. The goal is to have it ready by the end of March so that I get some feedback before submition (1 May). It is a busy spring break.