25 February 2011


For my prep class we've been reading applications for IRB research approval from previous years and analyzing the flaws contained therein.  This has been a very useful practice for helping me to see what pitfalls I will need to avoid in my own proposal and to get me to think of my proposal in more concrete terms.

One minor area I'll need to consider is compensation.  I am going to apply for one more research/study abroad grant soon, and if I get the money I will use it first for living expenses and project expenses like printing surveys.  However, depending on the amount of money, I may have funds to compensate people who consent to interviews.  In that case I will need to submit a change notification to the IRB and make sure it is kosher, but I will wait on that until I actually receive the grant.

A more pressing matter is my methodology.  I am supposed to ground my project procedures in some sort of established research methodology common to my discipline.  I don't . . . know . . . that English has an established methodology, let alone English teaching, but perhaps that's just me displaying my ignorance.  Here are the steps for a non-scientific or discursive thesis, which is the one that fits my project best:

  1. Library research (in primary documents, books, and periodicals [and, of course, online!])
  2. Interview schedule
  3. Research on an existing theoretical model
  4. Application of a particular theory to a text or situation
  5. Development of a theoretical model
  6. Develop interview questions
  7. Identify participants
  8. Observations or site visits
  9. Note taking
  10. Use analysis software
  11. Textual analysis
  12. Development of a theoretical model
  13. Prepare written report
  14. Establish analytical procedures
  15. Qualitative research: experiential narrative
I honestly don't know what all these steps mean, but let's see how what I've done fits into them:
  1. I've done lots of background research
  2. I have read about an existing theoretical model, namely the one that Paul Levinson employed
  3. I've developed interview questions as I go along
  4. I've identified the students and faculty of the Dharamsala TCV as my participants
  5. I've conducted and analyzed interviews
  6. I've given narratives of my research as I go along
I think my model is more fluid than the suggested one.  I do later steps along with earlier ones, conducting priceless early Skype interviews that have helped to shape my research questions as I go along.  The question is, do I need a more solidly defined methodology, or does approximately following the one above work?

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