January 5, 2016
In September I began writing my first, draft dissertation proposal. Couched within the penultimate doctoral course, Research Seminar 1, the idea was that we’d all write practice condensed dissertation proposals to test-drive research questions, methodology, and literature review
After writing juicy research questions about the experience of co-presence within the online graphic design studio, I began the hunt for a methodology. (Though graphic design education as a whole tends to skew opposite…I strongly believe in the potential of the computer-mediated + distance-distributed. I think it’s possible to listen well (even if your ears aren’t involved in the sensory process), walk with someone through a difficult season (even if you can’t be there to physically hold a hand), and have learning epiphanies that make you feel deeply connected to the larger world (even if you’re home alone and clad in pajamas.)
Having been impressed by dissertations that used ethnography, I decided it was “the one” and began writing. Though I came to ethnography because I resonated with its embedded focus, I soon began to wonder about if my own ontology might not be quite “ethnographic.” For example, in the literature there were many cautionary mentions of “going native” or losing outsider objectivity.
While I understand the rationale, one of my delights is the ease with which I “go native” with those I meet, actively interweaving my life with theirs. I love being a catalyst in forming/fostering community. I believe strongly in co-creation, collaboration, and that if one is curious–it’s quite possible to find and be accepted into the most significant moments in people’s humble, daily places. To me going native feels in many ways like the best validation ever because it means you’ve moved beyond an “I’m studying you” mentality and into a space of co-construction where we’re both living in “it” and studying/constructing/navigating what that experience might look like.
These realizations made me think that maybe I didn’t know myself as a research as well as I thought and…it might be advantageous to reflect on just what I bring to this process. Though I believe it’s important to choose a methodology that fits research questions and best serves the unit you want to measure, I think it’s just as important to choose a methodology that fits your own ontology as a researcher otherwise….eek…the process could be very square-peg-into-round-hole-awkward.
When I turned in my first draft proposal in early December, it was with the knowledge that I was still on the hunt and even more that I needed to clarify a couple more things within myself before I could commit to a framework. And so…over the past three weeks I’ve begun to window shop once more to see if there might be something else out there that’s a bit more in line with both my research questions and myself as a researcher.
I’ve currently settled into narrative inquiry. Though I have yet to fully decide if we are MFEO, I do know I’ll be spending this weeks #5papers looking at different facets + foci of narrative inquiry in an effort to better explore all it has to offer.