Planning for more data collection

After reading Ethnography: Principles and Practice and Research Design: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, and meeting with a colleague at QCBS, it has become clear that I need to collect some more data to make my “facilitators and barriers” chapter stelar.

Reading the books and meeting with someone who knows about social science methods, but understands the line I walk (looking at socio-ecological systems and thus walking the line between natural and social sciences to try and get a fuller understanding of systems), was helpful, and surprisingly not as discouraging as one might think. I fortunately got confirmation that the way I have been planning and collecting my quantitative and my qualitative data for Montreal is very much in line with the reflexive and iterative principles in the social sciences. I seem to have also done a good job (based on my own assessment of the reading and conversations granted), of following what I had already learnt in the Yin’s Case Study book, and have been following good protocols.

Over the past year and a half of surveys and meetings in the Montreal system, I have been doing participant observation. I have of course also been synthesizing and reviewing the peer-reviewed literature, government reports and policies, news reports and internal and public urban agriculture group documents. As such I have 2 distinct sources of data that complement each other feeding in to my understanding and analysis of the Montreal situation. Although I have talked to a lot of people about their views about composting and P recycling more generally, I need to formalize this into a third source of data, thus triangulating bias. I have thus decided to aim to do 20 semi-structured interviews with key informants in the system.

I have thus applied for an amendment to my research ethics board (for the extra questions and the consensual recording of answers for later transcription and coding for themes and quotes).

It felt good to know that my research process isn’t that a-typical. My barriers and facilitators chapter is so hard in part because I originally put it in the context of a comparative study. Then I decided to focus on just one city, but still combine the quantitative and qualitative sets into the same paper (which I was strongly reminded of when I reviewed my notes and drafts of ethics approval, seeing that intended to asked my barriers and facilitators questions but cut them for time of interview, and to focus at one research question at a time (which makes sense and what a lot of researchers do)). Through the quantitative data collection process I still gained a lot of insight about the qualitative part of my research, and now it is time to formally include the qualitative aspects of my work, and to rigorously do so I need to conduct semi-structured interviews. In sum, it was an evolving path, and I tried to balance time and resource limitations and constantly reassessed the situation and scope of the project to ensure the best data collection.

Also, it was interesting that the ethnography book brought-up issues of gender, class, and race in research in interactions (apparently it is the same thing even with rats! lol), and also latent identity and the importance of settings in interviewing. I am doing my best to minimize bias and taking really careful notes throughout the data collection and analysis process in case I need to go back and reassess any bias that might have been introduced.

On a very exciting note: I will be showing (and performing) an adapted version of my phosphorus dance piece at the Redpath Museum on the evening of Friday September 19th!!!



Turning things in

This week has been a week of what I would call “pre-submissions”, nothing I have been working on is final, but full versions of all my chapters exist and feedback is being integrated.

I have just sent my pen-ultimate version of the Montreal P budget work to my advisor, as I have integrated feedback about making tables and equations clearer and adding some references to support some assumptions. I also sent my framework paper to my advisor, after spending an intense few days trying to decide how and when to integrate co-author feedback with the help of my second author. I must say that I do love having co-authors you can really work through things with, it not only makes that one paper better, I also learn how to be a better editor when I do it alone for other projects.

I also sent my “barriers and facilitator to recycling P” to a friend of mine for a pre-review (I am trying to be a better self-editor, and I think part of that is knowing when to call upon friends and colleagues expertise when I lack it). Based on his feedback I am going to work on increasing clarity in the whole manuscript by dividing sentences (I tend to try to put too many ideas in one sentence). I am also going to read two ethnography books to try and structure the language I use in my methods section more clearly.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that I did finish my post-doc research proposal and submitted it. It wasn’t easy, but it did come together and I was able to get general feedback both from my current advisor and the potential supervisor on the proposed project. Interestingly, their feedback didn’t quite agree, but I think I was able to integrate what was needed. I don’t know if it is the strongest proposal in the world, but I am very happy that I did it. I feel less scared about writing another proposal in the near future if need be.

Still lots more work to do for my thesis, and applying to new post-doc opportunities, but I am lucky to be in a wonderful city with lots of cafes to do all this work in!

One of my favorite cafe's over the past 2.5 years in Montreal

One of my favorite cafe’s over the past 2.5 years in Montreal

new cafe discovery this week!

New cafe discovery this week!