Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Research Dilemma 2 - 'Lone Field' & Many Targets!


One can tell there is already a dilemma in the fact that I am taking weeks to update my blog on the dilemmas I am facing while in the field. Today I should probably just say the biggest dilemma is spending time on my laptop. I spend more time talking to people in meetings, discussions, and over the phone. As well, I am well aware that I can’t risk carrying my laptop to the field, meaning that any catchy dilemmas are only reported days after I have been to the field. Neither have I been able to use Twitter to update people on what I have been up to. Sometimes as a researcher, you want to sit back and reflect on every single moment before you can share it. This is I in the field.
From the last post, i was to visit two universities, which i successfully did the pilot and was able to better place myself as field researcher who is also a student can be the subject of this research. I had a fantastic time with both KUNEC and JKUAT, probably because of my former ties with these groups, but also because i knew some background on the two of them as well. But after that, i was able to  take a week fo reflection on my prior dilemmas. I have been able to resolve ethical, scope and context dilemmas and as well i have better internet connection to keep me updated. This week i have to two more universities.
My first dilemma this week has been venturing into new grounds- I have visited two more universities where I have not been before. Everyone is new to me apart from the email and phone communication we have held when planning for my visit to these university clubs. Prior to arriving I prepare myself for the discussions and interviews. The most important thing is that the aim of my research is at the fingertips. As soon as I start talking every other aspect of my research moves into its place.
In these two universities, I was puzzled when I received over 30 students willing to take part in the focus group discussions. While I can only run groups of 7, it was very difficult for me to select who would participate in the discussions. What a second dilemma!
I have also observed that indeed the field can be challenging if you are travelling alone. When I first went to Kenyatta University on my own, I was desperately unaware of the risks of under-estimating the strength I had to carry on the discussions and interviews at the same time with no assistance. This led to exhaustion after the two days of visiting the students. This time round, I was well aware that it would be a big challenge for me to take the night bus to Western Kenya, arrive in the morning, and spend time with the students and lecturers, and then catch a bus again to get to the next university in the same region. I have had the benefit of some Kenyan students who have volunteered to accompany me to the field and have used this time as a learning platform for their research. This is dilemma three solved-Get accompanied to the lone field!

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