Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1

Chapter 4 introductory graphic

Pilot study

Early on in the research I conducted a pilot study to to reveal issues and barriers related to recruiting potential participants, to explore the use of oneself as a researcher in a culturally appropriate way and to test and modify interview questions. Although familiar with Twitter as a participant, conducting a pilot study also allowed me to gain familiarisation as a researcher. I tested six different methods which I describe in more detail here. The table below reflects on the outcomes of the pilot methods.Read More »


Visualising ‘what I do’ … again!

One of the questions I’ve found the toughest to answer throughout my study is ‘what do you do when you do Twitter?’ Or, more specifically, ‘what does participant observation look like in the context of your research?’ I’ve previously responded at length, and have been trying to capture  a sense of what I do within a single visualisation. I’m still not convinced I’ve quite managed it, but here’s the final version which made it into the thesis:

“What I do when I do Twitter” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license


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RoCur – Rotation Curation

I’m in the midst of ‘data walking’ and rereading the interviews, blog posts, tweets and observations I’ve made over the past year or so. One episode opened up when I was copied in on a tweet by Aaron:

The post referred to in the tweet was one in which Aaron was reflecting back after concluding a week occupying the ‘chair’ of a RoCur account, @EduTweetOz. RoCur is Rotation Curation and is where a different person each week takes the helm of social media account, usually Twitter. For @EduTweetOz:

“Each week a different educator will take responsibility for tweeting. We hope that people will use the space to share their experiences, pose questions, engage in dialogue about current educational issues and help each other out.
Guest tweeters and other educators will be showcased on this blog to share their passion for education with the wider community.”

This was a phenomenon that I was only peripherally aware of so Aaron’s post provided the incentive to dig a little deeper.Read More »

What do I do when I do Twitter – Summary

“Approaching a dead end” by will_cyclist is licensed under CC BY-NC

If you’re going to undertake a research study, you have to become adept at recognising when you’ve gone down a dead-end. You then need to be prepared to retrace your steps and consider alternative pathways. This happens in your thinking, your writing and sometimes even your speaking. On this occasion, it was after completing a map/chart which supposedly summarised the discussion in the previous post. I needed a single-page summary for my supervisors; they’re not in a position to read through my 2000+ word rambles. In any case, I suspect I can’t afford to spare (waste?) 2000 words of my thesis for what ought to be a much more brief section.Read More »

What do I do when I do Twitter #2

“steps” by mr. rollers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

In following up my previous post, I now need to outline what the actual steps are which constitute my ethnographic approach on Twitter. My supervisor suggested I might produce it in the form of a summary which another researcher could use to conduct a similar study, however, I feel the need to set things out long-form in the first instance.Read More »

What do I do when I do Twitter? #1

“still asking questions” flickr photo by stewit shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Another outcome from the last supervisory meeting was that it would be useful for me to produce a summary of what I actually do when I’m on Twitter – how does my activity generate data? In a conventional ethnographic approach, one would be attempting to answer the broad question “What’s going on here?”, doubtless supplemented by who, how, where, when and why. If the setting is the digital realm, those questions could be the same, but what one would attend to might be rather different.Read More »