Structures of Participation

As we finished our morning interview, Wanderer showed me the exit with a smile. “The time just flew in, didn’t it?” she remarked. Despite the unusually early start, I felt a renewed sense of enthusiasm. My bag now had a folder and an mp3 recorder full of original information; I left the building in agreement. The session hadn’t dragged at all. Wonderful. Back at my desk, an email from Ian arrived. “Not as scary as I expected!” she confided. I had to laugh at the thought of our discussion having instilled any foreboding. Isn’t research meant to be enjoyable? Speaking with Ian, Wanderer and others about their fields of research, their organisational cultures, and their views on new media, I’m fairly sure that’s something we all agree on. Regardless of discipline!

I’m now halfway through my pilot data gathering activities and have met with 4 out of 8 participants via 2 “paired interview” sessions – 1 along the road at Manchester University and 1 here at MMU. Preparing materials for what seems an eternity, I am very happy to report that both sessions were extremely informative and genuinely thought-provoking. So far, my interviewees have seemed to find them worthwhile too.1

The position of technology relates to multiple structural factors.

Getting your “subjects” to take part enthusiastically rather than having them keep one eye on the clock (hey, that’s my job!) is vital to obtaining quality data. That’s why I’ve chosen and devised a combination of discussions, semi-structured interviews, writing activities, and Semantic Differential exercises. Conversations and dialogues are far better than simplistic closed question formats. And of course, timing, flow, and sequencing are everything. It’s too early to conclude but my instinct tells me my data gathering instruments are pretty successful.2 Transcribing the audio and comparing terminologies, anecdotes and insights is already proving fascinating. Hopefully the next 2 are just as illuminating!

1 Participant anonymity is optional.
2 Thanks to everyone who helped me test and refine these.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Structures of Participation”

  1. dysfunk says :

    Having participated I would agree that the format of dialogues as opposed to one-to-one interviews encourages more room for reflection and makes the process more engaging. Opinions are also tested and discussed, drawing them out without the need for the interviewer to probe much. I think it may well become a method in my own research. Thanks!

    • musingfrommanchester says :

      Great! Really happy to hear that! Deciding which methods to go with and then trying to design solid instruments is a fascinating process. Actually, I think this relates to inter-disciplinary approaches? In Information Science you can look around at a variety of Social Science techniques from diverse areas…then think about the ways they can be modified and adapted to suit your aims. Thanks again for taking part. 🙂

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Differentiating the difference « musingfrommanchester - May 27, 2012

What do you think? I love getting comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s