Thursday, August 9, 2012

das Steinkind von Leinzell, Philosophical Tran...
das Steinkind von Leinzell, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 31, 1720-23 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the July 2012 newsletter from FQS, there is a wealth of information about the Open Access issue.

The url below will get you to the latest issue of the journal, but that's not the newsletter--sorry, but this is a start.

Three policy statements that have powerful implications for qualitative researchers are:

The Royal Society of London's Report:

Research Council of the UK's Report:

European Commission in Brussel's Report:

A country and a collection of countries have come to the decision to archive publicly funded data.  The open access is not just about publication, but about the data that was collected--the project has now become a product--a thing of value. 

In the US, the response has been slower, but agency by agency we are coming around to the same place.

There are policies now in place for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Justice...and more are coming in line.

Qualitative researchers need to wake up, smell the coffee, and start discussing this issue.  I think it is one of those things with great opportunity and significant dangers.  
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Questions about archiving qualitative research data

English: Integration of Quanitative Data for Q...
English: Integration of Quanitative Data for Qualitative Analysis and Mixed Methods Research in a Web Based Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A friend who has been following the blog posts on qualitative research archiving, sent me an email with some great questions.  I am going to post them here and use them as musing points. 

A couple questions...

1. Perhaps I've missed it along the way (it's entirely possible!)... WHY is it important to and why should we archive qualitative data? For many studies, do the field notes and recordings of interviews/interactions and images and elicitations have meaning outside the context of the researcher/participant relationship?
 This is a very intriguing question...I would actually split it into two parts:
1.  WHY should we archive qualitative data?

For years, I personally have been baffled by the fact that qualitative researchers in many fields are tossing out all their data as if it would produce a deadly virus 5 years after collection.  This was not the case in anthropology where they were trying to salvage dying was OK for them to go back again and again and save everything.  Whether or not their collections are archived kind of depends upon the fame of the scholar and the importance of the area they someone.

But, and I think it was in the more sociologically dominated area of qualitative research we began to  think with the medical model created for taking human samples.  You have a short amount of time to work with the material, and then it is gone.  So,it does emphasize, I guess the ephemeral notion of what led to the data...that moment has passed; it will never come again?   Maybe this is a part of why qualitative researchers seem resistent to the notion of thinking about databases? 

However, the people that pay for these studies--policymakers and government institutions have finally figured out that this is very costly.  I'll post some materials later related to recently policy decisions in the EU and UK and have changed the tide.  The US is also following suit.  

From the point of view of teaching QR, we have never had good databases of mature projects that we could use with students.  So, essentially we seldom get beyond teaching data collection 101...we lack examples of full projects to examine.  (And then what is a full project...the raw data?  Material organized in a software program?)

2.  and then...why should the data collected in the interaction of researcher/participant relationship have meaning beyond that point?

This is a fascinating point to raise.  There is a strong bias among many qualitative researchers in this direction--if you weren't there; you just don't know.   But if we agree to that point, then what can we ever know about the events where we weren't there and were not a direct party to the interaction?  I think there are different kinds of knowing:  primary experience is great, but secondary analysis has value too.  You shouldn't confuse the two; you would need to have some caveats about what one can ascertain from archived data vs data you collected yourself.  

Where would historians be if they didn't agree that secondary analysis of data can be useful?  As we try to make sense of Greek culture, for instance, we review the reviews of the reviews of the reviews every generation, persistently reanalyzing our interpretations.  No, we were not there, but we still have a lot to say about the time and place that has value. 

2. If it is important to archive our data (presumably to make it available to others???) how do we approach this at the time of seeking ethics/IRB approval, especially given that most expect you to destroy "data" after 3-5 years? What are the ethical implications of preserving and archiving qualitative data that in many cases could be tied back to the participant, possibly identifying them?
Well, this is the 1 million $$ question, isn't it--how do we do this ethically?  What does it mean to create a data management plan with intent to archive not destroy?  I think this is why we need to get in right now and start adding our 2 cents to the discussion.  I don't think there is going to be any going backwards on this one--the horse has left the barn--but we can participate in discussions about useage.  

Standards we might have to create include:
1.  How do we develop an informed consent process that includes the aim to archive?
2.  How do you scrub data so that it meets the standard of privacy you established with your participants?  What does that mean if you are archiving just the raw data?  the software embedded version? or distributed data collection that included various net-based tools?
3.  How might levels of permission be structured?

Is this mostly about "open data" formats or it is about access to source data by researchers 5, 10, 20, 200 years down the road?
[I had just written a great response to this and my connection timed out and I lost goes again]

One of the very important underlying questions here is the quality of your archive?  What standards are they following?  Are they recognized?  Where is the data housed?  If you are an American and your data is housed in servers in another country--do they recognize the same standards you must abide by?  or visa-versa?

More to come on policies that are already changing our world on this topic.  

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Arxiv and the challenge to publication in qualitative research

Different types of peer-reviewed research jour...
Different types of peer-reviewed research journals; these specific publications are about economics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arxiv?  Is this in the future for qualitative research publishing?

A friend passed this website on to me as an example of how publication is changing in the scientific world.  Apparently, this is the go-to place to deposit your scientific papers so that there will be an official record of what you learned/found from your experiments. 

It is NOT peer reviewed publication (in the way that term has been defined in the past).  If you deposit here you can go on and publish the results in a peer-reviewed publication.  Depositing in Arxiv stakes your claim.  It allows you to let others know who got to what, when, and lets scientists who need your results to do their work have access much faster than waiting for the peer review process.  It is open access and publicly maintained, with guidance from within a discipline, thus avoiding the issues of monetizing publication at this early stage. 

It's a very interesting alternative to the traditional process of publication.  I am going to be thinking about this more as I write more on qualitative data bases and archiving qualitative research projects. 

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TQR Publication

I have just had an article published in The Qualitative Report.  The links below will take you there.  I didn't think that cutting and pasting would leave 'live matter'...but it appears to be working for me.  

TQR Volume 17 Article 63

The Journal Project and the I in Qualitative Research: Three Theoretical Lenses on Subjectivity and Self
Judith Davidson
University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, MA USA

 This week's issue also picked up an earlier blog, which was nice to see.

I find TQR to be a fascinating experiment in qualitative research publishing.  It comes to me in an efficient form.  I find it interesting to read.  It's I get some big articles, some headlines, and I love the job ads--those tell me so much about how the work for qualitative researchers is growing and changing.  TQR has its own substantial mailing list AND it is indexed like a real journal--so it gets into people's hands AND into libraries or archives for that kind of use.  All of these things make it something I pay attention to on a regular basis.  I will have more to say about the journal issue coming up. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

QSR NVivo 10 and the Emergent Future of Qualitative Research

I have just spent the last few days with many of the QSR North American gang--staff and trainers--and it has been very invigorating.  I love being with "my tribe", meaning those who are geeky about the technologies of qualitative research.  This group definitely qualifies. 

Thursday (8/2) and Friday (8/3) I was sitting in the background at an Nvivo 10 training, absorbing information about what is changing with the package. 

Saturday (8/4), I had the opportunity to meet with staff and official trainers to participate in a day-long discussion of issues related to using NVivo software, new horizons in software of this sort, and confirmation of qualitative research geeky techiness.  AWESOME!!.  Thank you QSR for making this opportunity possible. 

Cindi Jacobs, QSR Training Manager for the Americas--a fantastic hostess--setting a great pace for the entire daty. 

Joe Fisher, UMass-Lowell  Digital Librarian, talking with Raewyn Bassett and Laura Langendyk, two NVivo trainers from Canada
 Joe and I presented about the issues emerging in the realm of archiving qualitative research data (more on that later). 

Raewyn presented a very interesting paper:  NVivo as Conceptual Space for Analysis.  She has been interviewing NVivo users and examining how they talk about their practice as well as thinking about the visual and auditory ways we use NVivo and how we are working with the tool and our notions of qualitative research practice.  I found it very, very interesting. 

Rob Calcagni QSR, General Manager, Americas with Jennifer Patashnick, Carol Rheaume, and Asher Beckwitt
We appreciated having Rob and the other staff members with us--it was a great chance to ask questions and exchange information.  

 Asher ran a great round table on issues related to coding and interpretation.  I came away with lots of food for thought. 

Left to Right is Stuart Robertson (QSR staff person) with Guenther Krueger (a trainer from Vancouver BC) and Kristi Jackson (trainer and owner of QUERI)
 Stuart played many roles during the three days--as a trainer and co-facilitator.  His humor was greatly appreciated. 

Here is Kristi Jackson with attitude talking about a  on conducting team based chapter from her upcoming book on NVivo with Pat Bazeley
I can't wait for their book to come out--Sage, early 2013?  It will be very valuable for those who are trying to use NVivo in a useful way. 

Thank you QSR.  It was a great day(s).  I hope we can have more of these in the future. 
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Friday, August 3, 2012

August 2, 2012 · 9:14 pm ↓ Jump to CommentsFeeling Your Way into Computing and Math

To follow up on my blog entry about qualitative research as a form of quantification, I point you to this interesting piece by my friend and colleague Sarah Kuhn.  Sarah blogs at Thinking With Things, and she just posted an interesting piece on her blog.  I think her ideas about mathematics, quantification, embodiment, and textiles is an important item to consider.  I was a member of her UMass Lowell "Thinking With Things" scholarly group for several years, and it is a strong factor in my thinking now. 

I’m still obsessed with the many, many layers of meaning that I see in crocheted hyperbolic planes. Math (and recovery from math anxiety), systems theory, gender, materials, comfort, tangibles, emotion…the list goes on. I gave a “Flash Talk” (20 slides in 5 minutes) entitled “Feeling Your Way into Computing and Math” at the National Center for Women in Information Technology’s (NCWIT) annual Summit in Chicago in May. I had a great time, and got lots of positive feedback afterward. I would really appreciate your comments and suggestions! What do YOU see?

QSR and NVivo 10 in Boston

I am having a wonderful time in the QSR NVivo 10 workshop in Boston.  It is being taught by two of my favorite people:  Cindi Jacobs--Director of Training for the Americas; and Stuart Robertson, Training Specialist.  Need I say, they are also UMass-Lowell Graduate School of Education Ed.D. graduates.  They are such excellent teachers. 

They have a tough audience here--1/2 newbies and 1/2 of us are very experienced wanting to see the new software from a training perspective--but leave it to them to integrate us together in a way that makes sense. 

It's exciting to meet people who are new and excited about the possibilities of using qualitative research with these sophisticated tools.  However, the opportunity to be with 'my tribe' of old/new friends are are NVivo afficionados is so exciting.  We are whispering behind our hands, grabbing each other at lunch, and generally geeking out about techie questions and ideas. 

The NVivo 10 possibilities for using social media data are very significant.  I am looking forward to working with projects that would find this kind of data useful. 

Looking forward to another great day.