Doctoral Thesis Piloting Comes to an End, Tomorrow

The piloting I have been doing as part of my doctoral thesis is wrapping up tomorrow, when I am scheduled to interview one final person.

It was suggested that I pilot test my semi-structured interview questions, and while this is extra time when I should be looking for participants, I do see a great value in the process. Up until now, what I have wanted to ask to get to my research questions has made perfect sense to me, though that does not necessarily translate to working with others. The piloting has helped me to see some gaps in my questions, as well as some places where I can combine things to ask about them in a more targeted way.

Granted, I am engaging in semi-structured interviewing, and while my discussion (what I call the interview) with my participants develops and adjusts along the way, I really like having a bunch of questions, often asking about similar ways in slightly different ways to help trigger the discussion and clarify my research purpose, that have been “tested” with real people. In “testing” them, I mean that I am asking real people real questions about their experiences (as per my research design), and then having a discussion about the experience and how the discussion (interview) fits with my research questions. I am not planning such a debrief after the actual interviews, though this step has been valuable right now.

My supervisors have been very helpful and supportive of this process, and while this piloting is also another check-off I can make on my thesis process, I do know it is serving a valuable step as I am on the verge of data collection. What an exciting time so long in the preparation.