Data Collection: The Sign Boards

Today while I was driving back from the site after observing my study participant, the road signs I thought were just what I feel many times while interacting with my participants. It’s not that we don’t have a good, friendly relationship but when one knows someone for a couple of years, you know their habits (to some extent), and you know your limits. With people whom you meet for research purposes you have to be conscious and cautious.


You ask a question and the participant speaks non-stop. They elaborate everything even before you ask them to clarify something. They provide examples, rather very specific examples what they mean when they use or say a specific term. These are the FREEWAY situations when you put your car in the top gear and zooooom you go. Maybe the FREEWAY situations are the best ones, the most informative, and the most exciting ones too.


There are fairly good times too. These times are the times when I know that they will answer the question but I just have to be careful. That is the time when I myself hold PASS WITH CARE sign. Teaching is such a sensitive topic for teachers. I completely empathize with them and know the feeling because I’ve worn the school teacher’s hat for more than a decade. I have to ensure them many times that I understand their situation and their busyness.

There are times while I converse with my participants about their daily routines, their practices, and why they do what they do, I feel as if I’m trespassing. I see them holding NO PASSING ZONE/ DO NOT PASS signs, especially when I rephrase a question to get them answer my query. Their unpleasant expressions are priceless and I find myself in the most bizarre situation. It’s just like when you try to speed up a little bit, and that very moment you hear a siren right behind you.


A gas station with fresh coffee sign makes up a tired driver’s day, whose patience and car’s fuel gauge is about to touch the empty mark. I’m a tired driver and my academic advisor is just like a gas station. Every other week she fuels up my mind’s tank and offers fresh coffee in the form of new perspectives. She helps me see things differently or the things that I might have missed. I owe her for saving and making my days.

Data collection is a road trip to reach one’s destination, and I find these road signs interesting and applicable to my data collection process too.




Data Collection: Snowy & Icy Roads


There is no better way to describe what my data collection experience has been so far. As schools in the Midwestern state experienced unexpected number of snow days, I feel as if data collection has snow days too. Not just as a physical obstacle in the form of weather conditions when I have to cancel my interview appointments or the school is closed because of the snow day. But also emotionally and mentally, the experience has been snowy and icy. Times when I see clear roads of thoughts and a sudden gusty wind blows snow over them; Times when I feel satisfied with the data I’m collecting and then white snowy serpents of doubt, fear of not getting enough, crawl in to my mind and vanish, blurring my thought process; Times when mind blocks sway my thoughts away; Times when I feel positive about interviews I’m conducting, just as the rays of sunlight come out tearing thick dark clouds; Times when those interviews do not make sense and I think “seriously this is what I have!”; Times when I think of missed opportunities as the black ice that I can’t see but sure to trip over.
Yet, in low to no visibility at times, a smile appears when I remember Angie’s words, “You have a great study lined up!”