Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dissertation Week 2007 - Day 3 Report

How did it get to be Thursday already?

Yesterday, Wednesday, went alright. Not stellar in terms of tangible progress, but good in terms of emotional and self-efficacy-related crap. I didn't get the transcription finished, but I did finish coding that first interview. What I thought would be a pain in the ass actually turned out to be a very good exercise. Also, I installed the trial version of the qualitative data-management software that I intend to purchase to help me organize things. The thing is, the darn thing didn't install correctly on what is now my aging laptop. Frustrating.

Finally, I reconnected, via e-mail, with two former colleagues who finished their Ph.Ds a couple of years ago. I wrote them to seek very bare-bones advice on how they managed the small-level technical details of managing all their data. Not only did they provide good technical advice, but even more important (and totally unexpected) they provided empathetic moral support. I miss them. I am getting tired of being among the group that's the furthest along in the doctoral student process in my program. I miss having folks nearby who are just a few steps ahead of me to help lead the path. I realize this really isn't a chore in traveling with someone else; I sort of need to carve out this particular pathway myself. And yet, others have done it before me on different topical pathways, and it's helpful to hear advice from them.

It was comforting to have a professor friend of mine, who specializes in qualitative research methods, say, "The data management process was, and continues to be, the toughest part of qualitative research for me." My other friend simply said, "Glad you're keeping the faith," and "Take a look at your own resume, and remember how much you've already done." That last comment was pretty funny: she was quoting ME from a couple of years earlier when I was giving her a pep talk during her job-search process. Funny how the advice comes full circle. Both of these friends, and several other former colleagues, have offered to help read drafts and things as they come up in the next few months. I'm really thankful for their willingness to loan me their precious time even as they work toward their own tenure clocks or other work tasks. I think that energy from friends and colleagues is part of the whole process that will keep me pushing this little research study to completion.

OK. Agenda for today: 1) Finish installing the software (the tech support folks wrote me back last night with a very helpful workaround that I hope will work). 2) Test out said software with the interview I've already coded, only for 60 minutes or less (I am seriously going to set an alarm for myself on this one, as I tend to tinker too much with technology). 3) Finish transcribing "Andrea's" interview. 4) Complete at least half of another transcript.

I'm feeling pretty focused today, so hopefully this list will be attainable. It's also Moose's last full day at school for the week (his Fridays are half days), so it's my last full day with a quiet house).

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