Well it’s been a while between blog posts, or drinks as they say. I’ve had a few things that have distracted me: children, job, washing hair. Oh yeah, and that thing called a PhD thesis.
When I started this blog, I had grand ideas about posting every week, à la Thesis Whisperer. That lasted all of about 25 minutes, or the amount of time it took me to realise that writing a blog requires time and effort, both of which I was short on (refer to above list).
Then I thought that blogging once a month was a more reasonable schedule. (To be fair, even Thesis Whisperer doesn’t have time to write all her blog posts).
My original plan was to write about things that were happening during my PhD. A snapshot of a specific period in my life that I could share with others who might also be on the path; a way of gathering my thoughts about what I was learning which wasn’t confined to an ‘essay’ type structure; something I could refer to when I had reached the other side. A testament about what I did, what I learned, and how I survived.
Now that it is almost nine months since my last post and I am staring down the barrel at the big 4-OMG!, I’m taking stock of where I disappeared to. Funnily enough, the doing of the PhD seemed to get in the way of the writing about the PhD. Life is what happens while you are busy writing a thesis.
So where was I? Oh, that’s right, I had done my confirmation of candidature and sent off my ethics application, all ready and waiting to start the actual data collection process. Once that came back at the end of November- one week shy of my planned recruitment phase- I was off and running.
As my research involves 2 iterations of data collection- for students starting university in Semester 1 and those starting in Semester 2- I had planned two rounds of recruitment and data collection. The data collection involved participants filling in an online survey before they started their university course, and then taking part in interviews during their first semester about their experiences of using social media at university.
At first, I was quite excited as I managed to get more than 80 signed consent forms in the first round of recruitment. However, this number did not translate to actual participation. Of the those who signed consent forms, only 25% actually completed the online survey. Not to worry though, as of the 25% who completed the survey, about 80% agreed to participate in interviews. These interviews took place at two points during the semester, which left me with about fifteen hours of interview time to transcribe, which (as a newbie) took forever!
Fast forward to round 2- recruitment process #2 also resulted in almost 80 signed consent forms. Again, the translation to actual participation in the online survey was about 25%. Now I’m ready to contact students in this second round for interviews.
Meanwhile, in between recruiting, interviewing, transcribing, job, kids (and some hair washing), I was also grappling with how to manage all the data that was coming in. The survey data was relatively contained as it was housed within Qualtrics, as an online survey platform. There also seems to be numerous fancy buttons for running complex data analysis- none of which I know how to use. For the transcribed interview data, it is now happily ensconced in an NVIVO project file, nicely saved as sources and linked to complex things like classifications, attributes, and nodes (which I have now worked out to mean demographic data, individual data characteristics, and codes). At the moment, I am still grappling with sorting the actual interview data into themes and codes. But figure it out I will (so if you don’t hear from me for a while, you can guess what I’m doing).
I might have neglected to mention that I also presented at an international conference, wrote, submitted, revised, (and had accepted) a journal article, and became president of my School’s Research society. So yeah, you can see how I fell off the blogging wagon, so to speak.
However, there is now no excuse; I have plenty of things to write about (just need to find the time). So I’ll see you soon, and if not, you can tweet me @academiadiva to kick my digital butt into gear!