Doctoral Thesis Data Collection, Status #2: Emotions

I want to share an update on my doctoral thesis data collection, as a lot has happened since the last one I did a little over a week ago. I have now completed 13 interviews in total (60-90 minutes each), and am hoping to finish the remaining interviews in another week. While I initially planned to have 15-20 people in total (which should be enough for some sense of data saturation, given the qualitative design I am using), it now seems I may be nearer the latter when I finish.

While I am not beginning any systematic processing of this data yet (transcription, anyone?  😉  !!), there is one thing that I have learned in this process that I want to share for the benefit of anybody else planning a similar research endeavor. Data collection in the form of long, in-depth interviews takes a lot of energy. Moreover, I am finding that it takes almost everything out of me. Let me explain.

My research asks about barriers and liminal (in-between) periods that happen during doctoral study, resulting in some form of an aha! or new sense of one’s identity. This often involves the telling of difficult stories, ones that are personal and oftentimes riveting in nature. Being privelged with listening to these stories is a rich experience, one that requires my full attention in way unlike many of the other tasks I have encountered in research (or practice, for that matter). I feel emotionally humbled when I finish with each one, and find that I struggle to do my ordinary work or other commitments in life during this period.

I am thankful for this opportunity to engage in this study, as it is a deeply moving experience. I think I have a lot more to process in its effect in me, much less as part of my research.