Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Long Road to Analysis

In late September, I completed my data collection, which actually ended in early August when including the removal of the 6th participant.  In early October, I met with one of my dissertation co-chairs to discuss the data and what to do with it.  It was agreed that I should code for themes with a date set in late October, which I didn't believe I could meet because my full-time job was becoming more hectic and the added stress would take away from productive time for my dissertation.  While that was true for a week or so, I was able to meet the deadline because there was a long enough lull in October for me to complete coding for themes.

Although only 10 themes were requested, I submitted 11 themes that stood out among all the participants.  I also included smaller themes that only emerged across one or some of the participants.  Once my co-chairs received my themes, I knew that I wouldn't hear from them soon because I sent them a lot more than probably both parties anticipated.  Additionally, I submitted the themes right before a busy conference season and shortly after the midterm week of the fall semester. 

To bide my time, I took the suggestion from the same co-chair to revise chapter 3, in which I proposed my research methods.  Now that the data collection was finished and the data analysis had begun, I could change the whole chapter from future tense to past tense.  I also deleted the report on my pilot study from the chapter because the pilot study was not approved by IRB, thus prohibiting me from using and publishing the data.

I got a little anxious a few weeks later when I felt like I wasn't being productive with my dissertation.  I couldn't move forward with the data analysis because I hadn't received feedback from my themes yet.  To feel productive, I started looking for scholarly journals to inspire me to write about my seemingly unique data collection process as it regards to social media.  I have received feedback from a few peers that believe it is worth writing about for publication.  In addition, I wanted to start engaging social media more directly too. 

Just as I was gaining steam with these projects, I got an automated message from IRB asking for an annual update on the project.  I hadn't realized that it was almost a year since I started filling out the IRB application.  Because data collection was over, I didn't expect IRB to find any issues with my progress.  I was wrong.  On my application, I didn't describe my member checking process that I planned to initiate after I completed data analysis.  Although I implied it in the email scripts and interview questions, it was not made clear in the application.  Understandably, IRB loves clarity.  Fortunately for me, it only took about a week to resolve this issue.  A few days later,  I received feedback about my themes, and it was a joyous occasion.

Getting the green light to continue my analysis was one reason for my elation, but another was that the feedback was more helpful than I expected as a guide.  I could instantly plan a strategy for analysis that would take me to forming a grounded theory in line with some established models and theories from the literature.  It took me a good week to calm down from this euphoria before I could resume analysis.  Another reason for the week delay was yet another hectic week at my job.

Now that Thanksgiving week has arrived, I will have plenty of time to get a large chunk of the deeper analysis completed.  I am now projecting to complete these stage of analysis by the second week in December, leaving me the time up to Christmas to determine if I have enough evidence and a strong enough argument for a grounded theory.  I am certain that I have enough evidence, but I'm not as confident with my argument yet, and that's what this next stage of analysis is all about.

You don't need to guess what I will be thankful for this year's Thanksgiving!  All in all, I am still enjoying the majority of this dissertation process.  The key to this enjoyment is my passion for the project and already realizing practical implications through social media and my current full-time job helping faculty with professional and curriculum development.

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