02 October 2011

A summer of interviews

The last few months I've fortunately been fairly busy with interviews. I say fortunately, because I was a bit uncertain about how willing people will be to participate, when I first started sending out invitations to take part. I'm really grateful to all the people who have been willing to give up their time to speak to me.

I've now carried out 11 interviews - with librarians, people working in social enterprises, people supporting them, and academics working in the subject area. I feel I've learnt so much more about social enterprise just by meeting with people from a range of very different organisations. Although the interview process can be challenging, I've found it very rewarding. So much of the research I'd been doing previously had been self-directed individual reading, it's great to meet and engage more with people and to visit organisations. The practicalities deserve a mention: I've travelled between four different towns, worked my way through three sets of AAA batteries for my voice recorder (none have yet run down mid-interview, luckily), and transcribed about 9 hours of recorded material (just over 68,000 words).

Each hour of interviews has taken me two to three days to transcribe. This has probably been the most challenging part of the process for me - background noises which seemed insignificant at the time drown out speech when listening to the recording, additional words and phrases emerge as I listen again. Most importantly, though, the process of transcribing has brought home to me just how sketchy even the most detailed of notes will be, compared to a proper transcript.

I'm hoping to do more interviews later, but for the moment I'm concentrating on analysing the information I've collected so far. I will be using this data in my upgrade report - this is the process which enables me to transfer from MPhil status to being a fully-fledged PhD student and usually takes place around a year after the start of the course (so that's about now for me).

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