A reflection about sifting through data to tell my story

This week was rough, what I initially thought would be an exciting process of data analysis quickly turned into a pile of data that I couldn’t seem to organize.  I found that examining each document on its own was incredibly useful and I would quickly identify themes and great examples to support those themes; then I would start on another document and I felt it would take me in a different direction.  I found myself spending a lot of time on the bigger documents hoping they would yield more themes but they proved too cumbersome for me to figure out what I should focus on.  During our twitter session, several people pointed out the need for brainstorming and not feeling the need right away to organize our thoughts but rather to just get them down on paper.  I started by comparing the themes that I did find in all of the documents and trying to glean larger themes from that.  It was good to read about different strategies from the other blogs and I was reminded to tell my own story or version as the researcher; it has been incredibly valuable to have peers to learn from throughout the research process, when I feel that I am getting lost in my own methods, I quickly learn different strategies from others! Another lesson I learned from reading and interacting on the blogs was that all of our data is useful; even if we look back and wish we had gone about our methods in a different way, it is still valuable to analyze what data we were able to collect.  On top of that, what we learn about ourselves as researchers only helps us to improve our methods for future research projects – will we need more or less time, how can we involve peers and mentors in our process, who will benefit from our work, and how will we use what we learn from our research.  This is especially important for me in my professional practice because collaboration is often expected, particularly in development and assessment of programs; added to that is measuring impact of programming which requires data collection and analysis over an extended period of time.  Improving my abilities as a researcher has certainly become a professional goal of mine through this course!!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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