Exhibit 1: The full experience of my pilot interview lasted 3 hours. The interview itself was about an hour. Set-up, fieldnote transcriptions, & some initial analysis added up to an additional 2 hours. This doesn’t include the coding I plan to do as well. I’d say this makes it less feasible to do the 10 interviews this month I’d set out to do.
Exhibit 2: I’ve found it nearly impossible to do observations for the full 3-4 hour sessions I’d planned. The chat transcripts are far too lengthy to analyze meaningfully. With 3-4 hours of observation comes an additional 3-4 hours of transcribing audio fieldnotes; this doesn’t include the more in-depth analysis and coding I’d eventully like to do. Most importantly, observation takes level of concentration I hadn’t anticipated, and I can’t sustain that kind of focus for much more than an hour or two. It’s exhilerating, but I also find it absolutely draining. After an observation session, I’m mentally exhausted in a way I hadn’t predicted.
So, what does this mean? I need to reformulate my plans and do less. This is not as easy as it sounds. My fear is thath I’ll need to reduce things too much — so that my results are not meaningful. I desperately want the results of this project to be something I can stand behind, not just the tinkerings of a grad student. The sample size and amount of data I’m analyzing is one part of generating sound research results.
So, while this warrants further consideration, I think the most I can do is:
2 hours of observation each week (instead of 4 hrs/week)
5-7 interviews (instead of 7-10)
I’m still a bit wary about my ability to do 5-7 interviews, but going below this amount will not generate enough data for solid findings. And for the observation piece, I feel that 1 hour/week is completely do-able but I’m goin gto strive for 2 hours.
Overall, however, I need to remember that quantity of data is only one measure – out of many – of validity. Quality is equally, if not more, important. It’s striking the right balance that is my challenge.
The difficulty of finding balance is nothing new. With a full-time job, full-time graduate school, family life, and a (semblance) of a social life…..plus a budding 2nd life…..I struggle with it every day.