One of many posts on my Readiness Assessment. As a reminder of the ground rules, this is a solo assessment, so while I’m allowed to think out loud on my blog, I can’t ask for or get (intellectual) help. Cookies and emotional support are, however, welcome.

Man, that nap was a great idea. Apparently I needed it, because I slept like a baby for 4 hours and then woke up and dashed to my meeting with Robin, and then Xworks dress rehearsal, with all sorts of renewed vigor.

On the other hand, it means y'all don't get narrative/grounded-theory notes, because I've been away from my laptop and thus reading (squatting backstage with selections from the "Qualitative Research Methods" series) instead of typing-up. So, to live up to my promise of at least one (substantial) post per day on the RAT, here are some things I've come up with today that will be more fully written out as I go...

I now recognize that one important part of RTR -- and the reason I'm drawn to narrative analysis -- is a refusal to simply accept that one can chop up a transcript without losing something vital. I mean, you can do that -- but understand that it's a tradeoff, and that you get a different sort of thing when you see the story as a whole, look at it as a narrative. And not just a narrative, not "just data" -- that the act of telling that story is in itself a re-creation, a meaning-making, a meaningful and potentially transformative event for the storytellers themselves. (It's not that I didn't know these things before, but it's that I haven't forced myself to clearly articulate them in the past -- and when I write about RTR and narrative analysis, that's what I need to do.)

It's so cool to see the history of Grounded Theory; it's not one static thing, it's an evolving method of analysis that has its own sub-branches, its own disputes, its own subtleties and flavors. I think I fall closest to Charmaz's interpretation of the technique -- perhaps because her book was the first one I read on it, perhaps because all the qualitative faculty I've had adore that book, I'm not sure. But the older-style stuff from the originators of grounded theory now feels a bit stuffy to me. I'd like to locate myself more precisely within that tradition, with the recognizance that I'm still a novice with the technique and have only completed small projects with it (I'm working on larger ones now, but they're not finished yet).

I need to learn more about phenomenology in a hurry. If I get to it this weekend, then I get to it. If not, it's marked for later.

The question of validity and rigor is still an issue and a bit of a blank spot; I think I'm going to have to tackle it in two parts. For an RTR study, there are two kinds of validity: validity as a study -- are the methods sound, is the data good, and so forth. Same measures of validity as for any other research project in that domain, any other using that technique, any other gathering that sort of data or using that dataset. Nothing new. But then there's the question of what makes something RTR -- what makes it fit that paradigm? And for that, I draw measures of validity from open communities: does it follow the Four Freedoms, does it default to open, does it let people ask for forgiveness rather than permission, does it follow the cultural norms that would be recognized in that world? In effect, RTR studies need to play by both sets of rules; I'm not asking for academic ones to be disregarded, but rather for these practices from a non-academic realm to be followed. And the trick is going to be showing that you can have both -- that the boundaries of the two can overlap, they're not mutually exclusive. That's my challenge in that section. Showing that possibility, showing clear routes to reach that possibility.

So, yeah. I think I'm on a good path right now. I'll read the methods stuff, write those things up -- and then I know the remaining big three resource-nodes I need to hit are:

  1. the cognitive apprenticeship, social learning, etc stuff that I want to make up the bulk of my literature review; I know this stuff, I just need to spend some solid time yanking it out and pull it it together. (This may end up being a small graphic novel.)
  2. resources from the world of open communities, and existing research on them, to articulate what the rules of the radical transparency game are.
  3. literature on other epistemological perspectives / qualitative research paradigms, because I'm trying to position RTR as one of them, and need to learn how to write about them.

Smaller, semi-optional resource-nodes will be the literature on validity and the literature on phenomenology -- although the more I think about the latter, the more I think "that would be nice, but I think it's outside the scope of this and I don't have time to look into it." Still, it would be nice, so if there's time...

Okay. Tonight I gotta knock off 3 funding applications and a couple other things that are insanely time-sensitive. Then I'll continue sitting down with those methods books. And I'll sleep early. Feeling good. This weekend I want to have a document outlined and filling in -- I've got bones in pieces, and a lot of flesh -- but I want all of next week to be about assembly on an existing structure, now that the picture of that structure's shaping up.