Week Thirteen: This is the End!

I was pleasantly surprised by the turn my research took when I started to delve further into it. The article that had originally sparked my interest in young women’s sexual health back in September was about the rising number of women using withdrawal as contraceptive method. I was boggled by this behaviour because the statistics were quite high. I thought this would be more of a health sciences issue, and I wasn’t totally sure how I would approach it, coming from a background in the humanities.

When I started to do the actual research, however, I found that this statistic was from an American study, and that the statistics for Canadian youth were slightly more promising. The first bit of information I found came from a 2006 study that revealed “increases in STI rates during an extended period of declining teen pregnancy rates in Canada (SIECCAN, 2004)” (Boyce et al, 2006, p.67). The stats I looked at showed that Canadian youths weren’t experiencing as high a pregnancy rate as our neighbours to the south, but I still had questions. I wondered why these young men and women didn’t seem to be giving STIs much thought, and this changed my research question from a sexual health practices question, to a question about access to sexual health information. This is when things clicked for me, since information-seeking was something we had discussed in several of my other LIS classes. Then, when Jenna Hartel came in and told us ethnography was a good way to explore how and why questions, I really began to see the shape this potential study would take. Though I have some important questions, I’m still not totally sure what other questions would elicit the most useful answers, so I decided to use a semi-structured interview style to try and facilitate conversation.

This project is quite different than what I had initially thought of, but I think it’s more unique. I even found an article that explained, “youth efforts to obtain sexual health information, particularly in the specialized and often controversial area of sexual and reproductive health, remain little explored by library and information science researchers” (Pierce, 2007, p.63). That made me feel good about the direction I had taken, since it’s an area where someone could really make an impact since no one had really ventured there.

 

Boyce W., Doherty-Poirier, M., MacKinnon, D., Fortin, C., Saab, H., & Gallupe, O. (2006). Sexual health of Canadian youth: Findings from the Canadian youth, sexual health and HIV/AIDS study. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 915(2), 59-68. 

Pierce, J.B. (2007). Research directions for understanding and responding to young adult sexual and reproductive health information needs. In M.K. Chelton & C. Cool (Eds.), Youth Information-Seeking Behavior II: Context, Theories, Models and Issues (63-91). Toronto: The Scarecrow Press. 

SIECCAN. (2004). Sexual health education in schools: Questions and answers. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 13(3/4), 129-141. 

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Final Thoughts

When I was first considering the subject of Land-grabbing in Ethiopia for my research, I did not initially connect it to issues relating to information science. During the course of this semester, I grappled with how to address this topic in the iSchool setting. In the end, I decided that my proposed research would concentrate on the circulation and flow of information within the context of Land-grabbing. In other words, my research would attempt to uncover how government information concerning land deals is transmitted to affected rural areas. After having reviewed much of the past literature on the issue, it is clear that those affected by these transactions receive very little consultation by the government beforehand.

Additional questions surfaced while reading and thinking about my topic, such as what barriers exist in accessing and spreading information on land deals to the people affected, as well as the relevance and the role of ICT’s in the dissemination of this information.

I have selected interviews as the preferred method to carry out this research. The subjects of my interviews would be the villagers or farmers displaced or significantly impacted by these land deals. As a result, I would have to secure ethics approval. Deciding on the precise number of interviewees, however, is a bit difficult. I know I can’t have too many due to the limited time and resources available. Nonetheless, I am confident that important facts and knowledge will be gained through the use of this method.

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Final Thoughts

My research question has remained basically the same from the very first exercise that Kristin Luker prompted us to write in week one.  The accessibility of rare book or special collections libraries has always interested me, and I am glad that I was able to research and find out more about it. I think my research question very specifically challenges the assumptions about the social world around us that Luker prompts us to examine in her book. She calls for the qualitative researcher to “figure out not only what Luntz calls the elements that have made up public opinion have changed, but why” (Luker, 2008, p. 38). I always wanted to know why people found special collections libraries so intimidating, it just took me a while through the process to figure out that I needed to examine cognitive processes.

My research is based on the cognitive constructivist metatheory, which argues that information-seeking behaviors are an “individual creation of knowledge structures through experience and observation” (Talja, S; Tuominen, K; & Savolainen, R, 2005, p. 82). Through this lens, I have decided to use questionnaires to determine how undergraduate students develop these perceptions.

I guess my question to my fellow researchers would be, have any of you just wandered into a rare books library on a whim? Do you find them intimidating? Do you think that a questionnaire is the most practical and decisive way to determine this kind of information? Since this is only a practice research assignment, there will be no way of knowing what kind of information I could get from this study, so I’d love your opinion on the matter!

Luker, Kristin. Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2008. Print.

Talja, S., Tuominen, K., & Savolainen, R. (2005). “Isms” in information science: Constructivism, collectivism and constructionism. Journal of Documentation, 61(1), 79-101. doi: 10.1108/00220410510578023

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Extracurricular activities

At the beginning of the course, I proposed examining how parents of different social class backgrounds seek information about their child’s extracurricular activities. This overarching question has remained the same, however, I have added the following sub questions:

1. What are the sources that parents use to obtain information about their children’s leisure activities?
2. How do they evaluate the credibility and legitimacy of these sources?
3. What are the constraints and barriers that parents of different SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds encounter during their search?

I am still applying Savolainen’s (1995) model of Everyday Life Information Seeking (ELIS) to my proposed research. With respect to the methods, initially I had suggested conducting interviews with parents. However, I have decided to add personal diaries as a method for collecting data. I have decided to ask parents to provide weekly diary entries that answer the following open-ended questions:

1. Describe a time this week when you saw, heard, or discussed anything related children’s extracurricular activities or programs?
2. What do you think about what you saw, heard, or discussed?

The advantage of these diaries is that they allow researchers to “indirectly observe changes and trends in practices, behaviours and attitudes” (Rothe, 1993, pg. 102).

I’m still wrestling with trying to state my research question in such a way that it won’t be a mouthful. I really don’t know if I’ll be able to cut it down without losing context.

References:

Rothe, J. P. (1993). Qualitative research: A practical guide. Heidelberg, Ont.: RCI Publications.

Savolainen, R. (1995). Everyday life information seeking: Approaching information seeking in the context of “way of life”. Library and Information Science Research, 17(3), 259-294.

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End of term blog…

I think this semester has had its ups and downs. Mainly speaking from the perspective of conducting my research. I think the one thing I learnt this semester is do not revolve your research around your methods. It is not going to work. If you do not have a method continue with your research. Maybe you will create a new method in the process or elaborate on a pre-existing one and remake it your own.

My research proposal is coming along. Is it how I would like it to be? No. For multiple reasons. I do not find I am writing for myself. I am just writing for a mark. This is no jab at this course at all, but there is a level of separation between what I would write for a mark and what I am proud to produce for myself. Then there is how I write in general.

I come from a background where colloquial writing style is not looked down upon. Every person has their own stance on writing style. As an anthropologist, we speak as we are directly talking to the audience or an interlocutor. Does this make an paper less academic? Look at Bruno Latour, his papers have many colloquial sentences, does that take away from his message? Stating something is “colloquial” or do not write like this, does not improve ones way of writing. It just says you look down upon it, that it is a lesser form of writing. I am only stating this because we went over this in week 5 with my example of Laura Bohannan—an anthropologist who wrote under a pseudonym because her research was deemed not in the realm of proper anthropology. 

I make no apologies with how I speak. I may be informal. I may have grammatical mistakes (mainly because I was never taught grammar in school and I just self-taught myself). But I have passion. Passion to conduct a research that I deem makes me proud. Now ending on that weirdly motivational rant, I want to wish everyone a happy holidays and good luck in their future endeavours.

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Ch-Ch-Changes

I looked back through my blog posts to answer this week’s prompt about the evolution of our research questions. It was really satisfying to be able to see the progress that I’ve made since I first expressed an interest in how French-Canadian literature is catalogued!

My posts show that a major shift in my research question happened between week 4 and week 5, when I moved from talking about French-Canadian literature to talking about Franco-Ontarian literature more specifically. I suspect that this shift happened because I started to do research in earnest for my SSHRC program of work. I’d originally focused on French-Canadian literature because I thought Franco-Ontarian literature might be too narrow a topic, and starting my research showed that this was not the case.

Another change in my research question happened more recently, when I realized (again from doing research) that the use of subject headings on works of fiction was a separate sub-topic from classification in general, because most libraries only use subject headings on their non-fiction collections. I think that this sub-topic is still very relevant to my research interest, and to the goals of my research project, but successfully integrating it will likely mean changing the sample of libraries I will be studying.

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Final Blog Post

Light-bulb-momentWhat a fantastic term it has been. Thank you all for your insightful posts and comments. It’s truly been a pleasure to blog with you!

The one process in this research proposal project that had the most significant effect on my research question was figuring out the larger theoretical framework in which I wanted my research question to be imbedded. Up until about a week ago, I still had no idea what this framework would be. Two things that Dr. Galey asked me when I spoke with him about it helped me immensely. He asked me to recall that the framework is like a conversation at a cocktail party. What broad conversation could I slip into with my specific research topic? He also asked why really would I want to do this project; where does my desire to undertake the project come from?

My project is about university educators’ experiences with copyright-related information on Canadian campuses. I discovered that my true desire to study this comes from a place of empathy because I’ve seen, in my experience working with professors on copyright issues, that it can be the cause of a lot of stress. This was my “light bulb moment”. The group at the cocktail party which I would chime into with my topic would be discussing job/work stress. There is tons of research on stress at work within the fields of organizational behaviour and psychology.

Although I’m still far further from being finished my research proposal than I should be, working from a solid framework has given me clear direction.

Best wishes for the end of term and for the holiday break!

Image retrieved from: http://southernorderspage.blogspot.ca/2012/06/i-had-one-of-my-light-bulb-moments-just.html

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