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.

Doctoral Thesis Data Collection, Status #1

I want to share my progress with my doctoral thesis data collection that I started in my posting on July 28 where I outlined my research and began to request participants.

I have been absolutely blown away by the support and interest I have felt from so many people who have so kindly offered to assist or otherwise help promote participation in my work. Having already completed 7 interviews lasting between 60 and 90 minutes each, I feel I am indeed learning more about the liminal experiences that occur during doctoral studies related to learning leaps, aha! moments, and passing through conceptual thresholds.

I have learned that I really do not know what sorts of initial findings I can draw from this work until I begin transcribing and analyzing the transcripts, but I have already noticed that some of my questions and frames have developed the more I learn about how current and former doctoral researchers experience and make sense of their in-between periods of meaning-making while on the path to their degrees. Each person I speak with is so different from one another, and this opportunity to hear about what at times involves personal experiences en route to the degree often leaves me in awe.

I so value how generous many people are with their time, and I look forward to engaging with the other participants I have scheduled to interview through the end of the month (when I now hope to conclude my data collection for my research).