How do I go about collecting data from my 7 creative sector NAGRENTs (Nascent Graduate Entrepreneurs)?
Criteria for ChoiceI could, of course, justify my choices by an in-depth critique based on ontological, epistemological , and methodological criteria – as I will no doubt have to in my thesis.
However, pragmatically the choice was based on several rather more personal criteria.
- I am doing this PhD for fun (sic) so wanted a data-gathering process I would enjoy.
- I wanted the participants to stick with me for 3-4 years, so I needed a process they would enjoy.
- Crucially, I needed to gain the trust of the participants, but not intrude too much in their world, or influence their business too much.
- In case any of us re-located during the research, I needed a process which was geographically robust.
- And, of course, it had to be methodologically sound enough for my thesis.
The core approach that met these criteria was infrequent, in-depth, semi-structured interviews, supplemented by other materials.
- 6-monthly interviews (to minimise intrusion and influence).
- 2.5 hrs long (to achieve depth)
- Semi-structured (to give enable the participant to share control of the agenda and enjoy the discussion, but also to ensure that I covered the areas of interest fully)
- Some formal questionnaires (eg GET test, Learning Styles, Entrepreneurial Self-efficacy) as the participants enjoy them and they provide topics for discussion.
- Repetitive, longitudinally, so I can observe and understand changes in their business, their art, their personal lives.
The supplementary materials include their products/services, business plans, Tweets, Facebook pages etc. These are not core material, but serve to corroborate the interviews, and also generate topics to explore.
Has it worked?All the criteria have been achieved in that I am enjoying it, the participants have all signed up very willingly to end-2013, and I am collecting a wealth of frank and relevant material.
I am just hoping that I will be able to make sense of it all over the next 3 years as I focus on analysis, conclusions, and thesis.In the next couple of blogs I will write about the interviews, the formal questionnaires, and the way that I am transcribing and organising the avalanche of words I am collecting.