A Journey through the ‘Real World’: A Reflection on Term 2 Research Training and Assignment Writing

Pheww…it has been two days after submission deadline..and I still could not believe that I have submitted the version that I am quite happy with just in time…And the electronic submission made me still worried sometimes whether my submissions were through or not :D. Though I have printed the digital receipts, there was always feeling of worries and made me triple check my submission link to see that my ‘darling’ assignments are already there…:D

Going through term 2 brought me a different story from that of term one. At the beginning…I thought that the workload and pressure would be lesser considering the number of assignment that we have to submit which is ‘only’ half of the previous term… However, it was totally untrue. The two assignments were apparently of similar ‘weight’ of the last term’s four, as we have to deal with the ‘real world’ here….THE DATA.

In addition, the different nature of our assignments made us have to juggle from one research paradigm to another…from being positivist then interpretivist….then positivist again…interpretivist…etc…..which turns out was not easy 😀 Doing statistical analysis in the morning and then narrative analysis in the afternoon would not be a good idea in this case…:D. These also influenced us in the writing up process…active or passive sentences? more stories or straight forward? I remember my Qualitative Data Analysis lecturer said “Come on everyone, p < 0.05 does not apply in this case” and our Quantitative lecturer said “Don’t worry too much about the prose in this assignment” 😀 We apparently unconsciously mixed up the two paradigms in our thinking and reports :D.

Quantitative Data Analysis

This module put us in a strictly positivist paradigm in which every single thing has to be obedient to the strict rules. Which test to choose? What is the proper sample size based on the effect size of the previous research on the topic? What happens if some participants are different from the ‘average’? All should precisely follow the directions in the ‘recipe’.

For me, this module was quite brain draining as I started from a scratch. My topic for assignment was about feeling concerning statistics and bit about anxiety…and I was one of the sample of those with this high level of anxiety 😀 … The terms that we have to ‘be friend’ with, the statistical analysis, assumptions, SPSS, assignment topic which was unfamiliar to me etc. etc. It was really challenging. However, a lot I can learn from this module.

On day one of statistics class, I was so dazzled with the many statistical terms and the features in SPSS. “Ow can I ever learn this thing? All looks so complicated”

But now, I have no problem with SPSS and can run any test, parametric or non-parametric and can think of the underlying assumptions for the choice of tests and the results “Yippiiii….I am friend with statistics and SPSS now”. Most importantly, when reading quantitative articles, I can now consider whether the test conducted was proper or not and how the sample size and effect size would convince me about the results 😀. I am now to a certain extent statistically literate :D. “A generalization based on a t-test with N: 38 when the previous effect size was small? Ow hang on!”

*I do hope I have done things right on my assignment phew…finger crossed.

Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA)

Basically, I am more familiar with this interpretivist paradigm compared to the positivist one :D. However, the many methods to choose and the different procedures and underlying philosophy behind each gave me a different challenge. Thematic Analysis? Discourse Analysis? Conversation Analysis? Narrative Analysis? Grounded? Deductive? Inductive? Constant comparative? All swirled up in my mind when trying to decide which to apply.

I decided to go with Narrative which has been my interest since day one of my study and even since preparing my proposal for PhD. However, there were many possibilities for undertaking Narrative Analysis as well, which again I had to choose. I decided to go with Lieblich et al. ‘s Categorical Content Perspective plus the characterisation of Roles in the narratives (Wagger-Egger).

The next challenge was the analysis process. Having decided to inductively analyse my data set brought a different consequence to me. The analysis process was quite lengthy and messy, all sentences seem to have their right to be coded, which was both frustrating and exciting at the same time: D. Although I decided to use ‘only’ two stories out of the eight I have, it still seemed quite ‘big’ in the analysis and writing up process. Trying to decide the neat codes during the analysis process was not an easy task, and deciding which to put in the report was another challenge, due to the word limit 😀. I tried to employ my Theoretical sensitivity while doing the analysis and trying to be as transparent and effective as possible during the writing up process. Really hope I have not missed any single bit on my report :).

As was the first term, this second term has been a valuable journey for me…..And interestingly, Richard’s 4Cs still apply, even for quantitative assignment, we need to be creative. Hopefully, this journey will give me and my classmates the best results that will bring sunshine on our faces and glitter on our smiles….

Best Wishes,