Research Diary #2: Some steps forward, some steps back

I’m in a bit of limbo at the moment. Ideally, by now I’d be close to securing research ethics approval for my second year project and starting preparations for gathering data. Instead, I’ve gone back to my original research proposal and starting pulling it apart and putting it back together. I think that this is ok, although it might not be. Either way, it’s what I’ve been doing.

This has come about because of the reading that I’ve been doing as part of my 100 day challenge. I’d come to realise that I’d let some fluffy thinking creep into my research proposal. I hadn’t sufficiently honed my original research aims and as a consequence it was in danger of becoming ‘I’m going to investigate this because of reasons’. Now, I’m trying to ask myself the big questions such as ‘what would need to occur for this event to happen?’. In my case I feel that to understand why students express dissatisfaction with their experience it is necessary to understand a) what their expectations were b) how the experience failed to match their expectations and c) why a failure to meet expectations matters to a student. I also need to explore why certain characteristics make if more or less likely that a student will express dissatisfaction.  I don’t think that this fundamentally changes my choice of methodology. However, it does change the questions that I ask. I’ve given myself until Wednesday 11th April before I nail my proposal to the metaphorical door and submit my research ethics form.

Beyond that, I’ve also registered for a couple of training courses. As a Institute of Education research student I’m required to sign up for at least two a year. In addition to the Critical Realism reading group that I’ve been attending I’m now signed up for am ‘Advanced Qualitative Analysis’ workshop, and a series of workshops on ‘Research Beyond the University’ that is focused on impact, public engagement, and collaborating with the third sector.

So, it feels as if I’m doing a lot of stuff. I’m just not sure that I’m doing it in the right order. There’s a joke in that somewhere.



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