Sweet like chocolate

After a few weeks off, from blogging as well as studying, my supervisors recently suggested that my literature review is quite good.  Following a quick look around the room to check that I wasn’t overhearing someone else’s supervisors, I realised that, yes, they were speaking about me.  Phew!  After many months of literature reviewing, it looks as though I might have achieved something.  Wonders will never cease.  My literature review isn’t finished.  It will probably go through several rewrites before the due date and I know I’ll have to keep on top of the new literature as it’s published, but knowing that what you’ve done is ok?  That is a relief.

My next step is fieldwork.  I’m sure everyone looks forward to this part, particularly those who have just completed a year of reading, reading, reading.  However, I can’t just go out and collect data.  I need to work out exactly what data I’d like to collect.  I know I’m interviewing, and I know the eligibility criteria the participants will need to meet.  What I don’t know is what I’ll ask them and exactly who the ‘them’ is.  The first part of that is 100% down to me – only I can decide what I’ll ask.  I know I need to use my literature review to help me with this, and I know that I need to do this fairly quickly.  The second part is, however, a little more uncertain and a lot more worrying.  The main worry?  What if nobody wants to participate?

Until very recently, I was so sure that people would be happy to participate in my study that I hadn’t given much thought to the alternative.  As time passes and the recruitment days loom close, however, I find myself comparing participant selection to Easter Sunday.  What if, just like Easter Sunday 2017, the event comes and goes, and all of my hard work doesn’t pay off.  You see, I’ve put some effort into recruitment.  I’ve spent time making sure the people upon whom I am relying to help with recruitment are well-informed, and that they know what I’m looking for, why and when.  The same was true of Easter eggs, though.  I took time to train my husband in the art of chocolate buying, well enough in advance that the best deals could be ensured.  The training fell upon deaf ears.  I awoke that Sunday to find no Easter eggs.  Later that day, as I cooked for our extended family, the only consolation was that I could be sure one of our visitors would come up with the goods.  As the day went on, however, it became apparent that everyone had assumed everyone else would bring me an Easter egg.  Goodness knows I’d dropped enough hints.

As you can probably tell, I still haven’t got over this.  But, chocolate aside, what if the same thing happens with recruiting participants?  What if those I’m relying on don’t take the whole thing quite as seriously as I do?  What if everybody thinks that someone else will do it?  I can ask people to participate; I can explain why my research is necessary, but short of standing in the chocolate aisle of the supermarket pleading with people (which, by the way, doesn’t work), I am going to have to trust that it’ll all work out in the end.  It turns out, that’s a scarier place to be than knee-deep in literature.

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