With IRB approval “just around the corner” (ha!), I’ve been making sure everything is in place so I can hit the ground running once I get the final approval. That means checking back over my selection criteria for potential interviewees. For anyone who doesn’t remember, I’m doing phone interviews with COASST citizen science volunteers to see how they describe science, resource management, and their role in each.
I had originally hoped to do some fancy cluster analyses to group people using the big pile of volunteer survey data I have. How were people answering survey questions? Does it depend on how long people are involved in the program, or how many birds they’ve identified? … Nope. As far as I could tell, there were no patterns relevant to my research interests.
After a lot of digging through the survey data, I felt like I was back at square 1. Shawn asked me, “Based on what you’re interested in, what information would you NEED to be able to sort people?” My interview questions focus on people’s definitions of science and resource management, and their description of their role in COASST, science, and resource management. I expect their responses have a lot to do with their world view, their experience with science, and what they think about the role of science in society. Unfortunately, these questions were not included in the 2012 COASST volunteer survey.
As so often is the case, what I need and what I have are two different things. When I looked through what I do have, there were several survey questions that are at least somewhat related to my research interest. I’ve struggled with determining which questions are the most relevant. Or I should say, I’ve struggled with making sure I’m not creating arbitrary groupings of volunteers and expecting those to hold through the analysis phase of my project.
This process of selecting interviewees off survey responses makes me excited to create my own surveys in the future! That way I could specifically ask questions to help me create groupings. Until then, I’m trying to make do with what I have!