I’ve just finished the first phase of data generation at my second field site. The rollercoaster ride of fieldwork continues and I am currently very glad that it has evolved in the way it has. Iteration 2 is quite different from Iteration 1 at many levels, which is a strength on multiple levels. Yes, it enhances both symbolic representation and diversity in my sample and all that. It also means that I have a much broader view of ‘what is data’ and what I may engage in my analysis compared with my notions before I started. While I had some concept of adding strength through multiple data points, I don’t think I quite appreciated the intricacy of what I designed at the time I came up with it.
Take a moment – go me! Serendipity ftw!
So, this is especially relevant considering that one of my data points is quasi-naturalistic. It involves recordings of a contrived situation but the participants have complete autonomy within the situation. This is damn scary because I never know what I’m going to get in the recordings. I have even less control than I would in a minimally structured interview. However, the justification for this fear is entirely contingent on your view of this one data point and where it fits within the greater collection. There are previous and further data points within this iteration, and I have one more to go as well as a previous one.
The data I have just finished generating with the input of ‘my’ participants includes many uncensored moments of interaction alongside points related to the content focus of my project. There are some qualitative differences with the recordings from the previous iteration and where I go from here within this iteration will be different as a result. What I find increasingly interesting is how to respect and balance the integrity of the contributions within each iteration while also starting to think about and plan analysis across, between, and through the iterations. Hence the ‘trans’-iterative as a layered play on words – blending transitive as a descriptor of active verbs and ‘trans’ as a preposition.
A significant point for my next steps will be to be attentive to ideas, codes or categories that may transition between the iterations. I’m using a constructivist grounded theory approach at this point to develop an initial analysis. It may prove tempting to transpose across the iterations, especially where *I* may think there is a gap. The thing is, that’s not my gap to fill. This is a strength in GT approaches because they are deliberately ‘bottom up’ and encourage a systematic approach to analysis of the empirical data. The next data point is taking my analysis back to ‘my’ participants. This checking back and incorporating their analysis into the overall study is a key methodological step. It means I’m not guessing or assuming something that may not apply to participants in this iteration. It does put a lot of responsibility on me as the analyst to be aware and alert, but that’s part of the deal with being a researcher. It’s part of the reason why I want to include ‘my’ participants in the analysis as well as generating data related to the topic.
While I was a bit iffy upon reviewing the first recordings from this iteration, I think I have transitioned to a more sophisticated point of view about where I am now and where I’m heading next. More explicitly trans-iterative analysis will come later when I have finished the fieldwork and start delving into the whole set.