Monday, November 1, 2010

Processing Fieldnotes

The 3asal is that I got in a lot of interviews today, the baSal is that an observation was canceled for the second day in a row, and it's 8pm and I don't know my schedule for tomorrow.

So, I decided to would take advantage of my unscheduled time by figuring out how to best process my field notes.  This probably shouldn't be that complicated, but I'm a systems type of person.  Also, I want a good system set up now, so I can process as I go, rather than returning from baladelba7th with hundreds of text files and scribblings that are completely incomprehensible a year from now.  I have a huge backlog of data from last year, and the thought of processing it all into analyzable form (transcribing, writing up coherent notes, etc.) is enough to make me start googling things like "how to become a professional cat trainer."

This year, I'm determined to do better.    I've decided to process this year's data first and then deal with the backlog of last year, and so far, I'm not too behind.  The field notes think had me confused for a while, but this is the system I have worked out for now.

1) Take fieldnotes (I primarily do this using Simplenote on my Ipod Touch, once I figured out how to turn off the autocorrect that was turning my loghatelba7th scribbles into gibberish).

2) Download notes to computer via syncing with Notational Velocity.

3) Export scribblings to "Raw Notes" Folder.

4) Copy scribblings to new text file, and write up coherent notes for the day.

5) Save this file with the date as name in "Written Up Notes" Folder.

6) Export this file to MAXQDA (my chosen qualitative data analysis software) and code.

7) Delete original notes in Simplenote.

I'm not sure how relevant steps 2,3, and 7 are.  Two is preferred over copying and pasting from simplenote online because notational velocity keeps the date and time.  Also, I don't always have internet.  Three is because I want a copy of my raw data on my computer just in case, although I'll probably never look at it again.  Three and seven together let me use my notes in notational velocity as a queue, rather than having to worry about which ones I've processed and which ones I haven't.  None of them take very long, so I don't feel like I'm wasting my time.

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