After reading Ethnography: Principles and Practice and Research Design: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, and meeting with a colleague at QCBS, it has become clear that I need to collect some more data to make my “facilitators and barriers” chapter stelar.
Reading the books and meeting with someone who knows about social science methods, but understands the line I walk (looking at socio-ecological systems and thus walking the line between natural and social sciences to try and get a fuller understanding of systems), was helpful, and surprisingly not as discouraging as one might think. I fortunately got confirmation that the way I have been planning and collecting my quantitative and my qualitative data for Montreal is very much in line with the reflexive and iterative principles in the social sciences. I seem to have also done a good job (based on my own assessment of the reading and conversations granted), of following what I had already learnt in the Yin’s Case Study book, and have been following good protocols.
Over the past year and a half of surveys and meetings in the Montreal system, I have been doing participant observation. I have of course also been synthesizing and reviewing the peer-reviewed literature, government reports and policies, news reports and internal and public urban agriculture group documents. As such I have 2 distinct sources of data that complement each other feeding in to my understanding and analysis of the Montreal situation. Although I have talked to a lot of people about their views about composting and P recycling more generally, I need to formalize this into a third source of data, thus triangulating bias. I have thus decided to aim to do 20 semi-structured interviews with key informants in the system.
I have thus applied for an amendment to my research ethics board (for the extra questions and the consensual recording of answers for later transcription and coding for themes and quotes).
It felt good to know that my research process isn’t that a-typical. My barriers and facilitators chapter is so hard in part because I originally put it in the context of a comparative study. Then I decided to focus on just one city, but still combine the quantitative and qualitative sets into the same paper (which I was strongly reminded of when I reviewed my notes and drafts of ethics approval, seeing that intended to asked my barriers and facilitators questions but cut them for time of interview, and to focus at one research question at a time (which makes sense and what a lot of researchers do)). Through the quantitative data collection process I still gained a lot of insight about the qualitative part of my research, and now it is time to formally include the qualitative aspects of my work, and to rigorously do so I need to conduct semi-structured interviews. In sum, it was an evolving path, and I tried to balance time and resource limitations and constantly reassessed the situation and scope of the project to ensure the best data collection.
Also, it was interesting that the ethnography book brought-up issues of gender, class, and race in research in interactions (apparently it is the same thing even with rats! lol), and also latent identity and the importance of settings in interviewing. I am doing my best to minimize bias and taking really careful notes throughout the data collection and analysis process in case I need to go back and reassess any bias that might have been introduced.
On a very exciting note: I will be showing (and performing) an adapted version of my phosphorus dance piece at the Redpath Museum on the evening of Friday September 19th!!!