Today I smiled as I returned to MAXQDA11 and the coding of my data. This is the third time I’ve recoded and each time it gets clearer what I’m actually after. The reason I was smiling was that I have been busy with other projects but from now until July I have time for my analytic process. The time away from my data might seem troublesome but actually I am at that stage of my PhD (3rd year!) that I can’t switch it off, which is nice in a way since I return to it effortlessly, and I never fully stop thinking about it. Breaks from the thesis usually mean I can approach it in a different way. When I recoded some of my interviews today I noticed how the theoretical model that I have been reading and thinking about since Christmas was evident in my data.
I’m one of those science nerds that love knowledge and the research process has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and I know now that a happy life for me will be one where research is constantly present. It is actually part of my personal ontology, which explains my level of nerdiness. My colleague Hannah Kaihovirta (PhD) opened my eyes when she said that the scientific process is really a dialogue. There are no final solutions, rather there are different perspectives while studying the world and there is a constant exchange of ideas, theories and facts between paradigms. This is really what fascinates me about science. Even if a researcher always choses a certain paradigm to work within there are no boundaries in science, just as a dialogue has no limits, and one perspective can never fully explain all matters, which is why we need other sciences. Different views on the world can fundamentally change who we are and how we perceive the world, which is also typical while participating in a dialogue, at least according to Mikhail Bakhtin.
My dialogue with my data and theories is ongoing, but you need to focus while in a dialogue, and it really is time for me to go back to my data for a final analysis. The research process means you have to start at the end to be able to write the beginning. And you never know where you will end up when you first start your research project, only your data can show you that.
Charlotta Hilli is a PhD student in the project Didactical Dimensions in Digital learning and the working title for the thesis is Upper secondary students’ views on learning in a virtual learning environment.