Wednesday, August 14, 2013

my first qualitative research

Today I come to term with things and write a loving mail to myself. Enough of nonsense. I am sitting in my office, looking pretty with my hair let loose. It feels good, the tip of the finger tapping the keys. I never noticed that before. You know how they say our finger tips are most sensitive and receptive to all touch. :) 

I had a presentation at the Santacruz office yesterday. I had already woken up at 5 to make the presentation and left home really early to reach on time. The presentation was more like a mid-research thing where I spoke about the data collection, the resistance I faced and also shared with the audience some initial findings which might or might not hold true as I analyse all the data. The meeting done with, I sat down with Mr. G, a gentleman from UCL who works with us and very senior to me in qualitative research. I had asked him for a brief interaction earlier in the day but the idea of brevity was brief. He and I sat talking and discussing my research for almost 2 hours. Though I enjoyed listening to him and posing a thousand questions, it has also made me anxious about the analysis and the subsequent writing of the report. If I was thinking data collection was difficult, analysis is even more so, not to forget the sheer pain it is glossing over people's responses again and again to the questions I posed, chalking out the important themes, grouping the themes together and then very very meticulously question my own assumptions and try to find supportive evidence. 

Then there is the thing about each individual respondent. I had promised each respondent that her identity will not be revealed. Each interview preceded a formal consent note which I had made them sign. So, of course, I need to code them. For instance, a respondent who is from rural background, aged 21, with two boys, is a Muslim and went to a public hospital for obtaining abortion needs to be identified by something like this:  R21MPu2B. Ahem. Similarly for all 30 of them respondent women and then the 10 doctors I spoke to. Not only does this codification helps retain their identity and hence my keeping my promise, but also helps us come up with findings when women with similar background or religion or experience at a health facility give similar responses (or not). 

Once the codification for the respondents is done I need to identify categories within broad themes as I go reading the transcribed data. Along side each category I also need to write the exact quote or paraphrase from the respondent, which is mostly in Hindi or translated in Hindi from Marathi. Once all of this is done for nearly 40 of all respondents I need to group the themes and do the triangulation part (which I still havn't quite got a grasp of). Having done all this I need to them collate the themes, question my own suppositions. At times also being skeptical of the respondent's responses and try to balance what the literal response is viz-z-viz what I feel is the real response, in light of other evidence.

All this while would continue note-taking and points to take note of later. I might need to go back in the field to make sure I am not making a mistake. Having done all this I will then start to actually write the report, go to libraries for literature review, get the latest statistics, discuss the findings, support it with evidence and if possible come up with few recommendations.

Though it is great that I now know a bit about qualitative research analysis, BUT without a good reference point about any of the stages and all I am currently feeling like a lost puppy in the midst of piles of data and voices and transcription and notes.