1.4 Interpretation – making sense of data

We’ve all heard stories of researchers losing all their fieldwork notes either in hard or soft copy. But there are many other less publicised stories of people spending hours searching for notes and computer files that they need when writing up. Remember to write up field work as you go, and as soon as you can. Keep copies in separate places – not all on a computer hard drive. Build up a filing structure for your data; for example, with a spreadsheet. Bear in mind the structure will almost certainly change as you go along.

There are a couple of important points to consider when beginning analysis. The first is that you shouldn’t leave analysis till you have collected all the data. Do as much as you can of preliminary analysis or reflections in a research journal as you go along. Secondly, recognise that a substantial amount of analytical thinking also takes place as the writing up stage, so start doing this from day one. Thirdly, the chances are that you will collect more data than you actually need. You need to be prepared to select data that is relevant for answering your questions rather than including it all. The latter would simply undermine the sharpness and coherence of your results and conclusions.

1.3 Investigation – gathering information

1.5 Utilisation of research findings