My Autoethnographic Writing in Yvonna Lincoln’s Session

(This is the result of an assignment Yvonna Lincoln gave us during her pre-conference session on experimental writing. It is not finished, and is intended for us to explore this method. I will develop this into the “What did I learn in this? section for my paper.)

I have 3 days. That is it. No more without discussing it and gaining  agreement with my colleagues and faculty tutor. How am I going to finish my first research project in my doctoral program? 3 months into the program, and already original (if not perfect) research.

Yes, I will finish it. I always finish it. Working full-time, teaching 3 university classes, studying toward a PhD, and preparing for 3 conference presentations within a two week period of time? I can do that. Of course I can do that! I have always finished before . . .

I interviewed 3 people about their intentions and what they learn and what they hope their learners will learn from their autoethnographic work. Yes, and how technology figures into the equation, as I am in an E-research and Technology Enhanced Learning doctoral program.

We had 4 weeks for the project, and on top of everything else, I have not only gotten my research design written, approved by the ethics committee, requested interviewees (I got 3 though I only tried for 2), adjusted my transcripts after my interviewees did not like my notes of our discussion, and then open and axially coded my data – I also analyzed the data and wrote an initial overview of my findings.

I realize the more time would not have helped much; what I need it help with is writing a more concise and comprehensive consent form, resources for transcription, feedback with being more rigorous with the strategies of inquiry and to what extent coding should be done (Strauss, Corbin, Berg, Wolcott) and using whose framework (Stake, Yin) and how mixing frameworks can be useful), and assistance with selecting and then using qualitative analysis software (Nvivo, Atlas ti, MaxQDA).

Is my research perfect? Of course not. Complete? No.  Ready for conference or publication submission? Not quite yet.

But what value was the project? Immeasurable.

I never would have supposed I could have learned so much about research apart from doing it (this is my first time doing it to  this extent individually). I realized not only I can do it, but that I love it. I learned that my initial framework for autoethnography was somewhat limited and is now larger, as I learned that other people think about it in other ways. I learned that it is really important to love the topic of the research, as that will be the only tings to sustain me in times of overwhelming despair. I can even see this research developing into my first step toward a dissertation (called a thesis in the UK).

I learned a lot, learned there is a lot more I do not know, and that research really can influence and support practice.