Saturday, November 28, 2015

Research Question Change?

I have started to work through my transcripts that I received from Rev.com. I am checking to make sure they were transcribed accurately. I am finding a few problems with Aussie slang and town names, but nothing too bad. What I didn't expect to find (and maybe should have) is that I think I have been asking the wrong questions of my participants. Or perhaps more accurately, I have been asking the questions that I really wanted to ask, but didn't match very well with my research question.

So, what I have got in my interviews is some totally gorgeous information that informs me about something I am truely interested in. What I haven't got is information that will allow me to answer my research question. Well, it sort of does, but the answers are not very interesting. So, I am going to use this post to get my thoughts in order.

My original question was something like: "How can a prison library meet the educational, legal and recreational needs of prisoners?"  Well, the answer is: It can't. Not in their current form, anyway. I can expand the answer to make a 'wish list' of things that the prison libraries could do to better meet the educational, legal and recreational needs of prisoners, but that wouldn't be all that interesting, and wouldn't make a PhD. It would be more like a consultancy report. But it would answer my research question.

What the information I have gathered also gives me is a view into the lived experiences of Australian prisoners in relation to their libraries. I have a picture and a feeling of how they are using, experiencing and valuing their libraries. This is much more interesting and more like a PhD. Particularly if I am going to follow the phenomenological method of data analysis - which I said I would do.

So, this leads me to an interesting place. I can follow where I want to go and explore what I have found in terms of the phenomenology of using a prison library, but this would require me to change my research question. I am pretty sure this is an OK thing to do and I reckon I have heard of other students doing this. Maybe it is common, particularly with quantitative research.

OK. Lets imagine that this is an OK thing to do. What would my new RQ be?  Lets brainstorm some possibles:


  • How do Australian prisoners experience their libraries?
  • How do Australian prisoners use and experience their libraries?
  • How do Australian prisoners, use, value and experience their libraries?
  • What is the lived experience of Australian prisoner libraries?
I went to a seminar the last day where the speaker stressed how important it was to just write what you want to say, clearly and simply. So, maybe:
  • How do Australian prisoners experience and value their libraries?
  • What role do prison libraries play in the lives of Australian prisoners?
  • What role to libraries play in the lives of Australian prisoners?
  • What role do libraries play in the lives of Australia's prisoners?
Maybe that is it? What role do libraries play in the lives of Australia's prisoners?

That is a more interesting question, I think, anyway. I guess the next step is to ask for a meeting with my SUPERvisors and see what they think.

Thanks Blog. You helped me think (write) out loud and get my thoughts to a useful place.  Bye for now, I am off to email my SUPERvisors. Change is good, yes?