Blogging as analytical aid for team-based research projects

Research notes have traditionally played an important role in the analysis of data in social science. Apart from transcribing audio-recording, the contextual information serves as a rich source of complementary data. Indeed, various researchers have suggested additional ways of recording supplementary information (Miles and Huberman 1994). These include “interim summaries”, “self-memos”, “and researcher´s diary”. Yet, most of them are usually presented as offline analytical aids and frequently for individual based analysis process. Social media, however, has redimensioned these tools and make them useful for team-based research projects, particularly for multisite and cross-national projects. The fact of publishing your research notes and summaries contribute may encourage both theoretical and methodological discussions during the research process:

  1. Online interim summaries: as the analysis progress, different team members may wish to write an “interim summary” of the progress to date (Saunders, 2011). What you have found so far; what level of confidence you have in your findings and conclusions to date; what you need to do in order to improve the quality of your data and/or to seek to substantive your apparent conclusions, or to seek alternative explanations; how you will seek to achieve the needs identified by the above interim analysis.
  2. Online self-memos. Self memos allow to record ideas that occur to you about any aspect of your research, as you think of them. Where you omit to record any idea as it occurs to you it may well be forgotten. Self memos may vary in length from a few words to one or more pages. They can be written as simple notes and they do not need to be set out formally. The occasions when you are likely to want to write a memo include (Saunders, 2011):
    1. when you are writing up interview or observation notes, or producing a transcript of this event;
    2. when you are constructing a narrative;
    3. when you are categorizing these data;
    4. as you continue to categorize and analyze these data;
    5. when you engage in writing your research project.

Furthermore, the openness of the methodology beyond team members may encourage a more dynamic relationship between research and the general public, which is consistent with the idea of science suggested by Nowotny et al. in the book “Re-thinking science”. In it, the authors argue that changes in society now make such communications both more likely and more numerous, and that this is transforming science not only in its research practices and the institutions that support it but also deep in its epistemological core.

 

Reference

Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Sociology Pr.

Huberman, M., & A AND M MILES, B. (1994). Data management and analysis methods. Handbook of Qualitative Research. N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln London.

Nowotny, H., Scott, P., & Gibbons, M. (2001). Re-thinking science: Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty (p. 12). Cambridge: Polity.

Saunders, M. N. (2011). Research methods for business students, 5/e. Pearson Education India.

My research visit at UFZ Leipzig

I have been awarded a Erasmus Internship Scholarship by European Union to do a research stay at the Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in the city of Leipzig (Eastern Germany) during July, August and September.

For this reason, I have decided to create a blog category (“Visiting UFZ Leipzig“) entirely devoted to my impression during this period. By impressions I mean reflections on the research I am conducting and also on the reading material I am consulting on environmental sociology and, particularly, on post-mining and restoration (a center topic in my dissertation). Moreover, I would like to share with you some of the interesting discussions I had so far with some of the department fellow. Well, I also hope to blog on the city and my everyday life in Leipzig, always trying to intertwine both my personal and academic experience.

visiting

why blog your field work?

Great post! Another good reason to do so is that not only participants but also co-researchers and/or supervisor, know more about what you’re doing.

patter

Over the last week I’ve posted every day about the ethnographic research I was doing at the Tate Summer School, research carried out with the Tate Schools and Teachers team. Why? Why did I interrupt my normal flow of writing about academic writing and research with a set of posts about my own research? Why was I blogging my research at all?

A lot of people tell me that they are worried about posting about research that is so clearly work in progress. But I want to convince you that there are some good reasons to do so, particularly if you’re doing qualitative work with real live people. And here’s a few of them:

(1) it’s a good record. Writing a blog post forces me to focus on providing a straightforward account of what went on each day. I have to choose the key points and write them succinctly. The…

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Bringing together research and teaching in a blog

Bez tytułu

I like the way this blog functions. It was created as an outlet for the work of her undergraduates. They bring together research and teaching, and in the process are building a substantial community of interest. This methodology could perfectly works out for other subjects like sociology or research methods, publishing the working class discussions, case studies or whatever. For instance, when working on shrinkage, every student could find and describe cases of shrinking cities all over the world and then blog them. This may contribute to both engage students in class and build a community of interests around certain research interests and topics.

Six years blogging!

I cant’t believe that I’ve already been six years blogging in wordpress!. Well, two years in this specific blog and four else in other ones.

Nowy obraz

The day I stopped facebooking (somehow)

Nowy obraz (23)

It is me browsing Facebook

I have been living in Poland for four years. Most of my friends and family live in Spain. Here I have met a few good friends, but nothing that let me say that my social life is active. My personal situation over the last years, becoming father and developing my PhD didn´t allow me building a strong social network. Although that’s not a serious problem for me now to be honest. My polish skills didn´t help very much neither, although as immigrant I tend to hang out with foreigners who speak English, Spanish or Portuguese. It doesn’t mean that I reject learning Polish at all, I can´t wait to be fluent (I will hopefully address this issue in future posts) Well, I also think that the poverty of my social life may be also due to social and cultural factors, such as the lack of acquaintanceship I perceive in my neighborhood and the faculty I work. In other occasion I would like to talk in detailed about the place I live. A residential area partially rose after communist time but with still some Khrushchyovka, the typical block of Communist-era flats.

All in all, the truth is that Facebook has become the only way I have to keep my social life afloat. Keep in touch with my polish acquaintances or have a virtual talk with some good friends from Galicia. I should also say that Facebook is the way I use to get some sociology or work related information. Especially from institutions or contacts that are not in Twitter, the other social media that I like more and more. Hence, Facebook is somehow an important element of my everyday life. So, what´s matter? Why twitter yes and Facebook not? It is not a problem of addiction. I do not waste many hours gossiping or playing silly game. In other words, I am not prone to procrastination, or at least this is not my main problem as to Facebook. The problem is as simple as it sounds; the people I follow in twitter have nothing or almost nothing to do with my personal life, while Facebook, despite the above usages, is still a kind of virtual Gemeinschaft. There I have this people that in one or another way have played an important role in my personal life: cousins, kinder garden mates, primary school mates and most of them are from my hometown. They are the sort of people that one appreciates for sharing a common past. The problem here is that they can provoke a kind of “emotional kidnapping”. Let me put you an illustrating example. I was recently tagged in a photo where my grandma and all my cousins appeared many years ago. This is, at least for a Southern European culture guy, something really touching. It takes you back to those marvelous days, something that I really enjoy. The problem is when does it happen?. Christmas, vacations or simply free time maybe an excellent moment, but not one Tuesday at 9:00 AM. I can’t see a picture of my loved and passed away grand-mother and subsequently keep writing on my thesis or preparing lectures. Well, I can, but not at the top concentration level I want. The problems is even worse if you take into account not just the potentially emotional-kidnapping of some updates, but the fact that certain people wake such feelings as nostalgia or saudade just watching their photo.

Hence, this is my dilemma. I can´t delete my account because it is the only way I have to be in touch with some people, but they can at the same time seriously disturb my everyday concentration. I know that Facebook offers some tools to adjust the feeds but it is very difficult to get away from certain stuff. Contacts activity sometimes pop-up in the right side column, so once you see something potentially emotional you just click on it because the temptation is too high. Not even mention how unavoidable is being tagged by others. What would you do? I came to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this dilemma is avoiding browsing Facebook at the very morning. It wasn’t a problem as far as no emotional messages were there but just work related or rather irrelevant messages. But I can´t take my chances. I now try to caught up on news and sociology related stuff using twitter or online newspapers. Sometimes, I still find myself mindlessly browsing Facebook, but I deliberately stop myself and go into other tasks.

On the other hand, I try to check my Facebook at the end of the day or every two days. The ideal would be just during the weekend, but some people use it as a kind of mailbox, so I need to check it quite often, unless I find another solution.

I should also say that after a week of having made this decision I have certainly experienced the so called productive procrastination or structured procrastination, i.e. the desire to avoid one task can be a creative stimulus towards another. Actually, I think I’ve made in the thesis more than usual, as well as in this blog.

What about you? Do you have this or similar dilemmas? How do you cope with it?