However, I produced a total of about fifteen pages that could be inserted into Chapter 4. This is a bit alarming. These fifteen pages mostly serve as single-case analyses. There is no cross-case analysis, which is where most of the grounded theory is emerging. I fear that I leave this fifteen pages as they are, which I most likely will not, the scholarly reader may want me to get to the point.
Writing these fifteen pages or so of participant summaries show how I could have written small case studies on each. There were a few participants that seemed to have provided me enough data for a single case study, and there were a couple that did not. In this sense, the writing process has helped me reflect on how I succeeded and failed in the data collection process. For example, there was one participant who answered interview questions very succinctly. Even during the time of the interview, I was not satisfied with the quality of his answers, but I felt like I would be pestering him by asking him to elaborate on nearly every question. Even though I was able to get him to elaborate on a few key questions, this writing processes demonstrated that I should have been more aggressive. However, this may have jeopardized any rapport I had with him. Perhaps this is evidence of my newness to conducting qualitative interview. One of my principles as a researcher is to respect my participants so they feel like active contributors to the research process. I don't want them to feel like they are just regurgitating data for my benefit.
Another surprising element in this writing process is that I was able to identify at least three themes for each participant and describe them with bits of evidence from their blogs and interviews within a few pages. I was quite happy that I was able to do this for the purposes of publishing in a journal with very strict limitations on word count. However, I was a bit upset because I felt like that I could have written at least triple the amount of pages for most of the participants. If I had done this, the single-case study reports would be around fifty pages. That's fifty pages of description with little or no grounded theory and no cross-case analysis.
That reflection helped me to develop a strategy for tackling the monstrosity that can be Chapter 4. The most important point of Chapter 4 is to describe my grounded theory in the cross-case analysis clearly with enough support and evidence from the single-case analyses. I do not want to misdirect my report towards the unique themes that arose from each case. There are enough cross-case patterns that answer my research questions that I need to focus on report on those to make my own case.
Finally, writing a summary for each of my participants is another example of how often I revisit my participants data. Looking back at the minimum number of past visits after the first blog reading or interview, here is a rough count of the number of times I have read through the data for each participant:
- Skimming the blog data to make sure the participant met the criteria
- Reading through the blog data after the participant consented for the interview
- Selecting relevant parts of the blog to bring in to parts of the interview
- Copying, pasting, and organizing the blog data onto MS Word documents
- Copying, pasting, and organizing the interview survey data onto MS Word documents
- Transcribing and organizing the online video conferencing interview data onto MS Word documents
- Reading through the first part of interview answers to identify areas to follow up on in the second stage
- Reading through the second stage of interview answers to identify areas to follow up on in the third stage
- Reading through the third stage of interview answers to identify areas to follow up in the closing
- Reading though all of the blog and interview data for the initial stage of coding
- Reorganizing all of the blog and interview data to prepare for the second stage of coding
- Reading through the reorganized and shortened blog and interview data to prepare for analysis
- Organizing the blog and interview data into major themes
- Reading through the blog and interview data now divided into themes instead of participants for cross-case analysis
- Reorganizing the data back to participants with the themes identified in order of strength
- Reading through the reorganized data to form the participant summaries
- Reading through the participant summaries to check if they made more sense to my participants than my dissertation committee for the purpose of member checking
- Preparing the same summaries for Chapter 4 with purpose of using them for reporting on a grounded theory
As a side note, this posting may provide an example of how research can encourage obsessive-compulsive behavior. If I weren't doing research, this behavior would be truly upsetting to my family, my participants, and myself.