I have a job!

While this is not related to this research project, I’d like to announce – on a more personal note – that I have accepted a position at Thomson Corporation (soon to be Thomson Reuters) as a Web Producer with the corporate portal / intranet team.  As I’m wrapping up my Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) in just a few short weeks, this opportunity came at the perfect time.

I finally feel like a real, live librarian! Horray!

I will be presenting the results of this research project on Tuesday, April 22nd at 7:15 am Second Life Time (SLT).  Second Life time is the same as Eastern Standard Time. I’ll ask that all attendees convene at 7:15 am SLT, and the presentation will begin at 7:30 am SLT. I expect that it will last about an hour.

I hope that you will be able to attend! Once all the details are nailed down, I’ll do my best to promote the event within the SL library community, and I will also be inviting the people that I have interviewed or otherwise gotten to know through observations.

The place for my presentation is TBD. If you, dear reader, have any suggestions, please post them here.

I’m in the final stretch of data gathering, hoping to squeeze in a couple more interviews this weekend and perhaps one more observation.  This next Monday, April 7th is the day I’m cutting myself off. It’s time to stop the madness!! I’ve come to a conclusion that it’s not the amount of data that’s the most important…it’s the quality of the analysis.

The corpus of data assembled thus far is truly astounding. It’s so multi-faceted, with chat transcript or voice transcription, snapshots, video captures plus audio field notes indicating the on-screen action. There are so many factors to consider in even a short SL interaction.

As my analysis has progressed from inductive generation of categories through open coding, I’ve now moved on to coding only defined instances of information seeking behavior. This, in essence, is my unit of analysis. Observations include many, and the ‘critical incidence’ interview structure that has evolved yields at least one (usually more) stories of information seeking experiences.

I look forward to officially wrapping up my data gathering this weekend and moving on for the final stretch of analysis.

Coding is Hard

A grounded theory approach calls for an iterative process of data analysis beginning with open coding. I’ve looked to Corbin & Strauss, seminal authors on grounded theory, to learn that open coding involves several steps:

  1. Apply concepts to data to describe & apply meaning to observed phenomena
  2. Discover categories to group together similar concepts
  3. Apply properties to each category
  4. Define dimensions for each property

I start with a line-by-line analysis of transcripts & field notes.  With 27 pages from my first interview alone, this can be a daunting task. As the research progresses, I’m sure I will “get in the groove” and pick out a unit of analysis — such as certain sections — but in these initial phases, I believe it’s important to engage in a more granular analysis. This helps make sure that I’m not missing critical data points or only pulling out the sections that conform to existing models or my own assumptions (important to theoretical sensitivity, a la Corbin & Strauss).

Additionally, notes and memoing help to develop categories, properties & dimensions further. Corbin & Strauss outline the use of:

  • Operational notes: research procedure or process adjustments
  • Code notes: document & describe potential coding, extending as far as category, general properties and possible dimensions.
  • Theoretical notes: notes on the development of a theoretical sensitivity, or general musings that help with constant, iterative question-asking
  • Memos: Researcher’s own analysis related to the formation of a theory, including emerging thoughts and ideations
  • Diagrams: Conceptualize models, relationships among data, etc.

Memos and diagrams are particularly important for the development of abstract, creative ideation, which lends to complexity & robustness in theory development.

As I write about notes & memos, I’m merely quoting  what best practices research methodologies call for when utilizing grounded theory. I see the value. Yet, my challenge comes back to resources. My first priority is gathering data, transcribing field notes and applying a first-glance level of analysis & open coding. This eats up far more than the 10 hours each week I have earmarked for this project. So, being a pragmatist, I see my “first-glance” analysis I’m performing at this point as kin to the formalized notes & memoing Corbin & Strauss call for.

I’ve developed two slightly different analysis forms from what I’d first posted to this blog. They’re spreadsheets to help with the process of recording data from my SL interviews & observations, and then to analyze that data.

One <very obvious!> issue I’d neglected when putting together my analysis form is that a Word document doesn’t offer what I needed to analyze reams of resulting coding. As the content of my analysis forms had been working just fine, I simply converted them into spreadsheets. I’d post my new analysis templates here, but alas, WordPress is not fond of the .xls format.

Simplicity works….just in spreadsheet format this time.

Click here to see a video of the most creative avatar I’ve ever seen.

With her permission, I’ve posted the following. What looks like a flying book is actually an avatar! The avatar-book would animate and flap her pages as shown in the video. But otherwise, she appeared as a book just laying on the floor. Pretty flippin fantastic!

VWLEM Conference_005_013

Originally uploaded by librariandreamer