How do you work ethically with material generated in an interview? I’ve been pondering this question recently as part of a more general think about ethical research practice*. Research ethics are c…
- How do we record and then analyse the important sensory elements of interviews? What does it mean to leave them out?
- Does our desire to find patterns (themes) lead us to skip over important tensions and individual idiosyncrasies? What does it mean to leave them out?
- Does the use of particular forms of software accentuate our gaze on broad themes rather than emergent narratives and subtle underpinning metaphors? What does it mean to leave them out?
- Do the ways in which we transcribe recordings pay sufficient attention to silences, stumbles, awkwardness, intonations, irony, sarcasm and so on? What does it mean to leave them out?
This post, in particular, the questions I have cited above, has helped my thinking process about the data analysis. I have been struggling to write what my interviewees have said in the focus groups in form of general themes. I haven’t found yet ‘themes’ that make justice to what they feel about the use of digital tools in the university. How they struggle, how they feel so upset with how this element has been addressed in the academic context. I think I fear, in words of Patt, to leave out important tensions, I don’t want to miss any ‘sensory elements of the interviews’.
I have analysed the data with such care, I have read through it so many times, but it is hard to find a sensible way, the right words to make justice to their feelings.
I think about this on a daily basis, I can not, not think about it, but every time I try to generate the themes I feel uncomfortable, not at ease with my participants and with myself, and I think it has to do with what Patt says in this post.
With this insight and the advice I recently got from a scholar to create my own categories, I will return to my data analysis, my transcriptions, the most precious bit of text I have in my whole thesis, and dare to be creative not feeling an impostor, and make justice to what I think is fundamental in any research, the inner world of the participants 🙂