Saturday, November 26, 2011

TQR: Bridging the Gaps Within Qualitative Research

This is an addition to the last post on what is happening in Marketing Research and Qualitative Research.  Absolutely not to be forgotten is the work that The Qualitative Report/ The Weekly Qualitative Report is doing to provide information on the full breadth of developments in qualitative research.  Marketing Research is not a forgotten country in their publication.

Their innovative online dissemination now has them reaching 5,000 subscribers!  They are one place where this new business approach to qualitative research is blended with work from other disciplines.  Thanks TQR! 

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Bold New World: Marketing Research and Qualitative Research

Visualization of all editing activity by user ...Image via WikipediaLast Wednesday, 11/23/11, I took part in a webinar sponsored by Vision Critical and featuring Ray Poynter, author of Handbook of Online Research Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers.  It was my first official webinar (at home with computer and headphones) and it was also my first introduction to where marketing research has taken qualitative research.  It was a come uppance. 

I had a vague notion that things were going on online with marketing that I needed to know about, but it was very interesting to learn how marketing research had formalized their qualitative research approaches in this area.
Terms that were new to me:
1.  Community Panel:  Primarily quantitative 2-5,000 members.  Within the community panel a variety of activities can occur--surveys, autoethnography, and MROC's.
2. MROC's=Marketing Research Online Communities;Qualitative Research groups (short or long term) of up to 50 members.  
3.  Autoethnography as Poynter was using it.  In the MR world, autoethnography refers to data that others go out and gather as "slice of life" experiences--through cell phones, journals, etc.  This is not how I would have used this term, and it caught me by surprise. 

In terms of future directions, Poynter stressed:  the evolving possibilities of Bots and what they could be in a future generation.

He also talked about the crowd sourcing that "branded presences" are drawing upon, using the "My Starbucks Idea" as an example.

I have been struggling for some time with the idea of where does qualitative research fit within the world of Big Data.  It seems that MR has already taken on that issue with the ways they are thinking about combinations of online communities (quantitative and qualitative).

Gamification was another approach that is growing in the marketing world.  Researchers are seeking ways to make the processes of their research more engaging and allow them to get into greater depth with the responses participants give.

Hearing Poynter's talk set me off on a search for some of the resources in this area.  Poynter's blog is very informative:

Reading this took me to Mr. Netnography, Robert Kozinets.  His blog--is another goldmine in this area:

I also realized that I am actually a member of his netnography linked-in community, but I haven't been paying attention to the messages!  Egg on my face. 

I also made my way to the Lovestats blog (which is surprising for me), but on it I found this posting of a talk by anthropologist of social media Mimi Ito:

Finally, Power Solutions provided more information on the ways qualitative research is being used in marketing research:

It is a vast new world out there.  It's not reflected yet, that I know of, in much of the teaching of qualitative research in higher education.  I am amazed by what the business side of things is doing.  It makes me feel like someone who is still using a manual typewriter. 

I think my next step needs to be to find my way into an MROC and experience what it is like--unfortunately I am not a very conventional consumer, but I am going to search this out. 

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Journal Project Link

I blog about the Journal Project (described in earlier entries here), on my new fiber blog. 

Qualitative Research Network at UMass-Lowell: NVivo Tasters

A Pile of The Real McCoy's Potato ChipsImage via WikipediaThe Qualitative Research Network(QRN) at UMass-Lowell has revived the "NVivo Tasters". 

We did this several years ago when we had a bumper crop of doctoral students in the Graduate School of Education who were NVivo savvy.  Our site license was new and we wanted to get professional development out to the many people on campus who had been using the product on their own, sometimes unsuccessfully.  We offered a  1 hour session with an NVivo expert to all takers.  Your expert would help you where ever you were--if was project set up, project reshaping--whatever, you had 1 hour.  Well, it was like potato chips--most people couldn't stop at one. 

That group graduated, and things moved on, but with the shift of QRN to the Center for Women and Work, and new NVivo savvy grad students, we decided to try it again.  We are offering 12 one-hour slots to any takers on campus.  Myself and two doctoral students from the Graduate School of Education are the staff for this. Once the word tricked out, the response was immediate. 

I did my first taster last week with two faculty members from the School of Nursing, and WOW!!  did I have fun.  It's dangerous to loose a data hog like myself on other faculty members.  I so love to wander in the halls of data as they are available to one through qualitative data analysis software.  I twitch and slobber thinking about the thrills that are opening to me.  I don't care what the topic is, I just want at their data. 

These sessions start out with a description of the project from the person who has requested the taster.  As I listened I found my eye continually drawn to the computer where I could see the data set up.  Usually I start by looking at sources--but the real piece de la resistance--is always the node section.  I can't wait to get in there.  In this case there were lots of a priori nodes...that had an implicit connection to the protocols...but needed a push to make that explicit connection.  Piece of cake. 

But this let me talk about node trees, shaping and pruning your tree.  I remind myself of my mother's TV repairman who was possessed by model trains.  I have the same intensity about node trees--mine and every other one I can get my hands on. 

The hour flew by.  I was so disappointed to realize it was over (though my faculty friend may have been glad to be released to process the whole thing).

NVivo Tasters have been great for introducing faculty and graduate students to each other's work.  As you are discussing the set up of the project, you inevitably open up many other issues--from the problems with recruiting, hilarious stories about conducting research, and the struggles with interpretation. Sitting together looking at the project that is visible to both of you (thanks to the qualities of qualitative data analysis software) is like sitting around a campfire staring into the flames.  You are warm, relaxed, and available to sharing about something that is important to both of you. 

Long live the NVivo Taster!  And Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"I Smell Smoke": Blogging as an Endangered Species | HASTAC

"I Smell Smoke": Blogging as an Endangered Species | HASTAC

Convergence Culture, Qualitative Research, and the teaching of...

Henry JenkinsImage via WikipediaI have been reading Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins...and I also follow his blog now.  Convergence is about the ways that technologies/media are all coming together...even while they may be seeming to go off in different directions.  (That's the 2 second definition).

I have been thinking about these principles and how they apply to technologies in qualitative research.   If you consider the historical pathway of technologies in QR, you see how the introduction of a new technology (when it comes to be seriously taken up by researchers) leads to a kind of overdomination of that form of data for a period. 

Example:  Early anthropology is dominated by participant observation--the notebook/fieldnotes and the portable typewriter.

Example 2:  Enter cameras--and we begin to see photo studies that have a life of their own (Riis, Collier)

Example 3:  Tape Recorder....and the dominance of interviews.  This is something that still hangs over us. 

Well, now we have convergence culture--technologies in which everything is combined into one cell phone or other device,--audio and visual recording (photo and video), software for organizing materials, text facilities, and the phone and internet capacity for sending and sharing materials on the spot, geospatial tools for locating the data.  You can collect data, organize it, and share/represent it--all from one place. 

The digitalness of it makes it possible to merge and connect different forms of data with ease.  So, what does this imply for the ways we think about teaching qualitative research data?  I think it is fair to say that our qualitative research classes look much like, I think, they could have looked in the early 20th century (if they had had such a thing)...observations are taught as if we were in the South Pacific with Margaret Mead.  Photography is still suspect in many social science products.  I know I am going overboard to make my case...but you see what I mean.

For qualitative researchers my question is:  how do you teach methodology in an era of convergence culture?  How does the inter-connectedness of our data collection tools--the digitalness of it--reshape our notion of the separate pots of data.  Three trends that seem critical for me in overhauling my own qualitative research teaching are:

1.  Contexts:  All the data that is available to contextualize an issue or concern; all of the descriptive statistics, geolocating material, images--everything that can be drawn upon to understand the topic of inquiry.  How do you assemble this collection; curate the possibilities in service of understanding the issue?  YouTube, audioclips, photos, maps (GoogleWorld), articles, statistics, applications, blogs, tweets, etc.   This is a vastly different task than simply going to the library, looking in the card catalog (off or online) for the article you want, finding it on the shelf, making notes, and then putting the journal back on the vfc

2.  The data you make:  The many different forms of data that you make and how you make it.  What are the digital possibilities for being sensuously present in the world and with others thinking about a particular topic.  (Qualitative research is about the employment of the senses to understand naturalistic contexts...the senses that we are so uniquely endowed with, thus it is fair to say it is a sensuous activity). How are these forms of data collection now inter-related?  As interesting, how can we meet and greet in the virtual world?  This, too, is sensuous--as we use our eyes and ears to engage in social experience. 

3.  The data they make:  Now, more than ever, we can extend the senses and the forms of knowing by joining in collaboration with others (lay researchers, participants) to explore the data they collect on a project of shared interest.  They can tweet their experiences back to you; they can be mapped by their cell phones as they move through a day; they can photo and geolocate.  They can also join you in the process of trying to make sense of it.  Often they may have their own data collections, organized on the web as Flickr accounts, participation in communities of like-minded souls, or in blogs. 

I hope this doesn't frighten off the next semester of qualitative research students...hopefully, by then, I will have thought it through a bit more. 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Qualitative Research Network at UMass-Lowell: Another Great Brown Bag

PAS stain of a coccidioidomycosis spherule.Image via WikipediaToday our qualitative research brown bag featured Pia Markkanen from the Department of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.  Pia made a presentation on the mixed method study that became the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine (JOEM) article--"There's No Place Like Home: A Qualitative Study of the Working Conditions of Home Health Care Providers".  It was fascinating!

Pia described the qualitative to quantitative to qualitative interactions of the study like a dance.  Project SHARRP,as she called it, Safe Homecare and Risk Reduction for Providers, was funded by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Like it's name, Project Sharrp focused on accidents with sharp instruments in home health care and the issues related to blood borne pathagens. 

Her audience of qualitative researchers was interested in all the nitty-gritty detail, from how she selected participants and gained informed consent to the development of focus group questions and integration with quantitative data.  For more informationon this excellent study, contact Pia!  

In the course of this work, Pia has become a daily user of NVivo.  We didn't get a chance to look into her project, but she showed how coding was reflected in the article's charts, and she shared an NVivo model with us. 

Our last brown bag of the Fall 2011 semester will take place on Tuesday, December 13 from 12:30-1:30 pm.  Steve Tello and Yi Yang from Management will present.  We will be meeting in Southwick 240 on North Campus. 
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Friday, November 18, 2011

QRfrag...My Blog List

I have been threatening to do this for some time...and now it is here: My blog list. This is the eclectic group of blogs I call my professional reading list. There are a few more to add, but this is pretty much the scope of it.

I find it interesting that it is almost all about emerging technologies. Qualitative research, per se, is not strongly represented here. My hunch is that this has more to do with the fact that mainstream QR is not moving too quickly into the use of blogs.

Of course another equally promising theory is that finding blogs is kind of like hunting for mushrooms in a forest. A lot of it is luck, and once you have found an area that seems like it produces this is where you go back for more.

these blogs I have been following yield good results for me. I hope you might find something in here that you like also.

Now the next task is to figure out how to. Move these sidebars into the place I want them to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Qualitative Research Network at UMass-Lowell: Brown Bags Fall 2011

Qualitative Research Network (QRN):        Fall 2011 Brown Bags

Bring Your Own Lunch
No Reservations or RSVP
Just Come and Engage!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011,  12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Rm 513, O’Leary Library:  South Campus
Pia Markkanen
Research Professor
Department of Work Environment

Using Qualitative Research Methods in Occupational Safety and Health - A Case Study on Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures in Home Healthcare. 

Dr. Markkanen’s Brown Bag talk focuses on using qualitative research methods in occupational safety and health (OSH) through a case study on bloodborne pathogen exposures in home health care. The talk describes through a case study how qualitative research methods (i) strengthen quantitative findings in OSH, (ii) help characterizing hazardous occupational exposures; and (iii) lead towards better understanding of the cultural context in which the study population experiences occupational hazards. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Southwick 240:  North Campus
Steven F. Tello, Ed. D.
Associate Professor
Management & Entrepreneurship

Yi Yang
Assistant Professor
Operations & Information Systems

How Nascent Entrepreneurs Leverage Networks and Resources in a University Incubator

This study utilized the setting of a technology incubator  to analyze how nascent entrepreneurs develop and leverage networks to secure resources as part of the venture creation process. Over the course of one year, we interviewed, observed, and tracked the progress of six medical device entrepreneurs as they accessed the resources and networks associated with this incubator.  Using qualitative methods, we examined how nascent entrepreneurs use networks to obtain needed resources, the types of internal resources and external networks pursued by hese entrepreneurs and differences among entrepreneurs based on their level of network skill.   We will discuss our methods, our use of Nvivo, as well our findings.

The brown bag lunches are purposefully informal.  These are places to bring your half-baked ideas, excitement, concerns, and hopes about the projects with which you are working.  Participants are present to listen, learn, and support. 

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Qualitative Research Network at UMass-Lowell: Brown Bag on "Giving Birth to Theory in Qualitative Research: Adolescents and the Sexting Continuum"

Land and SeaImage by Sally L. Smith via FlickrThe UMass-Lowell Qualitative Research Network sponsored its third brown bag for the Fall 2011 semester (November 8, 2011: 12:30-1:30).  We (the Sexting Project) were the featured project.

The Sexting Project is a three-state, interdisciplinary study of teens views of sexting (and the parents and educators who work with them).  It was funded by the Department of Criminal Justice.  We are about 2/3's through our data collection activities (surveys and focus groups).  We have collected data from 20 youth focus groups (123 individuals); 4 parent focus groups (5 more to go); and we still have 3 groups of educators and criminal justice professionals to interview. 

Our focus for the brown bag discussion was "Giving Birth to Theory in Qualitative Research:  Adolescents and the Sexting Continuum".  The topic was an answer to the hardball question musicologist Alan Williams lobbed at me at the end of the last brown bag--"How do you create a theory from your qualitative research data?" 

To explore the question, our group decided to trace the evolution of our notion of the sexting continuum.  The sexting continuum is our understanding of teens' responses to why sext?  We were surprised to learn that many had positive or unagressive reasons that they thought one might sext (you don't get pregnant or std's, for example).  On the opposite end, there was limited discussion from teens about overtly agressive behavior in regard to sexting.  The teens we talked to were not at all interested in relationships with strangers on the Internet...their connections were about people they knew.

What was very interesting is that the largest category was the squishy stuff in the middle--that wasn't quite one or the other--it implied agression or coercion, but teens were reluctant to label it that way.  Instead, they talked about joking with each other, trying to attract someone. 

So, the continuum is our theory that is growing as we delve more deeply into the data and talk with others about the meaning of what we are finding. 

Those who attended raised some very interesting questions that included:
  • thinking about the narratives in which sexing is embedded (discourse formations)
  • thinking about the technological literacy that is required of teens
  • the notion of sexting as a rite of passage
  • the aesthetics of sexting (how do people chose how to present themselves in these situations)
What was very exciting for me was to hear our two Emergent Scholars on the project, talk about the work they have been doing.  They did a great job describing how they were working with the project in NVivo and what they were learning about research in the process.  Nice job Mary Ann and Lindsay.

 Thanks also to Shanna, our fantastic graduate assistant, and the special insight she brings to the work.

We have two great talks coming up in the second part of the semester...more on that next!  

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