On purpose and progress

Why am I collecting data in this way during stage 1?  What is the purpose of stage 1?  And of stage 2?  How about stage 3?

During my supervision meeting I was asked these seemingly simple questions as a way of reminding me that I need to clarify the purpose of what do during each stage of my data generation.  I had written this all out and had it ready to “roll out”, so to speak.  However in practice my original rational wasn’t really “fit for purpose” (as my supervisor would say) and I’m now faced with re-evaluating the purpose of the tasks I do during each stage of the study.

This process, or cycle, of re-evaluating and re-articulating my research design is extremely helpful because it reinforces the notion that even the best laid plans are not set in stone but rather adapted.  As my understanding deepens about my topic, theoretically and methodologically, my research plans change – not dramatically but rather they’re fine tuned.  I’m discovering bit by bit the nuances of narrative based research and how I need to really identify and define the purpose of the data collection instruments that I’m using in order to progress further into this stage of my research.

For example, the purpose of stage 2 will set the focus and inevitably the form that stage 3 takes.  While stage 2 is mostly comprised of interview data – it’s the type of interview and the purpose of doing the interview that I need to re-articulate.  Stage 3, then, would be designed from the data generated at stage 2 in close relation to the purpose of stage 2, which was designed from stage 1’s purpose.

In many ways this process makes me look at my study in a new light, which is really motivating.  As the days get darker and colder my motivation starts to dwindle.  Not this time!  Ok so I still stay huddled under a blanket in my home office to save on the heating bill but at least my study presents a new challenge to undertake.

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