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Please help me with some planning queries I have for my forthcoming Doctoral research

(7 Posts)
MEDIA: Katie Lightfoot Tue 23-Aug-16 14:38:58

Hello Mums

My name is Katie Lightfoot and am studying for a Doctorate in Health Psychology and am a Trainee Health Psychologist. For the final part of my course I am completing research on 'Women's experiences of undiagnosed breech birth and the impact on future childbirth decisions and expectations'. The reason I am going to do the research is because I recently had an undiagnosed breech birth of my own and want to know about other mums' experiences and the support they received.

This is not a call for participants at this stage but a request for you to help me to decide on the methods you think would be best to use if you were a participant in such a study.

TO HELP ME WITH THIS REQUEST, YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE HAD A BREECH BIRTH OF ANY KIND; I would just like some public involvement in my planning. Please could you help with the following questions:

1. I plan to use email interviews to gather women's experiences in my study. These interviews would not occur in real-time but participants would be allowed to answer when they have a moment and feel like they can. If you were participating in such a study, would you prefer to receive all questions for the interview at once so you could work through them at your own pace OR would you prefer to receive one question at a time where you could respond at your own pace but would only receive the next question once you have emailed the answer to the previous one?

2. I plan to tell participants during recruitment of my research that I have experienced my own undiagnosed breech birth. If you were a participant in this study would knowing that I (the researcher) had experienced the same thing as you mean you might be more willing to share your experience with me OR would it make you less willing to share you experience with me?

3. If you were a participant in this study would you be happy if I gave you a reasonable time deadline (3 days or 2 weeks for example) for completing interview questions?

4. The participants in my research will remain anonymous when I write up my research. When recruiting I would ask participants to provide me with a secure, confidential email I could send all questions and responses to. Would you be happy if you were asked to do this if you were a participant in such a study?

Please feel free to post me your thoughts on my questions; I would really appreciate your input to allow me to make my research as effective and useful as possible.


Karmin Tue 23-Aug-16 17:52:43

1. I would prefer to answer each question as a stand alone email, it feels more like a discussion and would be less overwhelming than getting a whole list of questions and any n/a can be modified.

2. As this is for research purposes, the fact that you had or hadn't also had a breech birth would not influence me at all.

3. Yes with a reminder as well as the date for participating approached.

4. This is a bit more tricky as not everyone has a spare secure anonymous email, I wouldn't state it as a requirement but I would outline what steps you will take to anonymize the data. It is a potentially sensitive subtext so the relationship may be a bit more intimate but you can still protect the details and ensure any published data has no way of being tracked back.

Hassled Tue 23-Aug-16 17:57:08

1 - All questions at once. One at a time would be disconcerting - you wouldn't really know what you were up against. If you know from the start there are 10 or 20 questions, you have an idea of the time involved.

2 - Yes to a deadline. Otherwise I'd just keep putting it off.

3 - I don't think it makes a difference. People would participate because they've experienced a breech birth - I don't think they'd care that you have,

4 - Yes, would be fine re providing email details.

Wigeon Tue 23-Aug-16 18:10:41

I would rather receive all questions at once.

I would rather not know whether a researcher had experience of what they were researching. I would worry they might be biased, not impartial or judgemental in some way. I'd rather therefore you didn't tell me! Hopefully you are none of these things!

I would much rather have a deadline.

I'm not sure what your last question means - surely if your participants have agreed to take part in an email interview, they have to give you their email address?

Good luck with your research!

DoctorDoctor Tue 23-Aug-16 18:23:55

MN is a great resource full of well informed and intelligent people. That said, I can't see why you think strangers on the Internet are the best people to advise on this. People can say what they'd prefer, but that's quite different to knowing what methods will work best. I'd expect those decisions to be driven by your literature review (ie how other comparable research has been conducted), your own research training at doctoral level, and your supervisor's guidance. On a practical point, though, I would imagine sending questions one at a time would really bring your response rate / completion rate down so I wouldn't do that. Some of this will also be determined by the response you get to your ethics application from your university's ethics committee, so there's no point asking here if they say you have to do it a certain way. Good luck with your research.

TheWindInThePillows Tue 23-Aug-16 18:32:46

I think Doctor has some good points, I would just read the literature, pilot this with a couple of willing participants, perhaps even friends, and then get on with it.

I would send all questions at once, but make them very open-ended, so looking for stories and narratives rather than lots of very structured ones, as you really don't know what you are looking for at this stage. I would send them all at once, but ask the person if you can continue the conversation or ask for clarification, they will usually say yes.

Deadline absolutely fine, but not three days! Two or three weeks is fine for something which may take quite a bit of time, and has to have people in the right mood, with a reminder towards the end of the time.

Anonymity is really about disguising the end result so that people feel free to disclose what they like, and so anyone else in their story isn't affected. It's not about being anonymous to you! People are usually happy to share their personal emails, as long as you anonymize their data fully, which may be more than their name, especially if the details of the birth or any disorder are very distinctive.

I wouldn't sweat this stuff any longer, formulate a plan and crack on with it, doing qualitative PhD's takes longer than you expect, especially to find participants, to transcribe, to analyse- so get it through ethics, get an interview schedule together and spend your time trying to find your participant group as this may take months and months (and I have had people literally crying over this).

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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