The biggest logistical challenge I will be facing is the language barrier. I will need to find a translator who is fluent in English and Farsi (possibly also Pashto). In the case of a survey, the translator would need to translate my survey questions into Farsi, then translate the write-in answers from survey respondents into English. In the case of an interview, the translator would need to either do the interviews for me, or act as an interpreter while I do the interviews. (The first would be more time consuming and the translator would have to know enough about my project to be able to ask follow-up questions when appropriate; the second, I would have more control over the interview, but there is a higher possibility for miscommunication and translation errors.) Also in the case of interviews, the translator would then need to transcribe the interviews and then translate them into English – a highly time consuming task. It would be difficult to find somebody to do this for free.
The next logistical challenge is working with minors. The students I have contact with through the school where I work are asylum seekers, 12-17 years old, and do not have parents residing in Germany. It is common to have participants in academic studies sign a consent form, informing them of what the project is about, what information will be asked of them, and how that information may be used. Since the subjects are not legally adults, they may not be able to sign a consent form themselves, and may need a parent/guardian to sign for them. As the students have no parents in Germany, I would probably have to contact their Betreuer in Hamburg – which may or may not be an easy task. I may have to get permission from the university ethics board to work with minors, and I would definitely want to ask my boss permission before undertaking this project.
I’ve already decided to only talk to Afghan refugees because they are one of the largest groups of refugees in Germany and certainly the largest at this school, and including refugees of other nationalities would require having translators for all of those languages, which would be a logistical nightmare for a project so small. To my knowledge, all of our Afghan students speak Farsi (Dari/Persian) as a first language; if any speak Pashto, I will probably not include them in this study.
Another logistical concern is the availability of the students. Many of them attend our language school for only a short period of time. Once they drop out, it could be very hard to contact them again – even if I have their contact information, they may have moved or left Germany and not be available to meet again, or they may simply not respond. Because of this, I expect follow-up contact to be difficult, and I would like to make the process of contacting the student, (if necessary) contacting the guardian, and administering the survey/interview go as quickly as possible. So before I start contacting students and guardians directly, I need to have all of my questions finalized and all ethical/bureaucratic concerns taken care of.
- Gather literature – this should not be too difficult as a wide body of research exists on migrants and media use (January 2016-March 2016)
- Write literature review; consider studies that have been done before that I might be able to emulate; look for gaps in research where my project could be relevant; also look for other studies that used minors for ideas on how to go about that ethically (February-March)
- Finalize Research Question and start looking for a translator (April)
- Develop methodology (April)
- Get approval (April/May)
- Talk to my boss at the school about the project
- Contact the university ethics board(?) or department and discuss procedures for working with minors; follow procedures
- Develop survey/interview questions and/or decide logistics for measuring phone usage (i.e. figure out which apps use the most data in the same space of time; choose an app to track phone usage) (May)
- Translate survey/interview questions into Farsi (May)
- Gather data: Administer surveys or conduct interviews and/or look at smartphone data (June-August)
- Transcribe and translate interviews OR translate survey results (write-in only) (June-September – will try to translate and transcribe as I go along, to avoid having to do hours all at once at the end)
- Analyze results. Develop graphs or charts for qualitative and categorical data. Statistical analysis for qualitative data. (September)
- Follow-up interviews/surveys; more analysis (September/October)
- Write up; edit (October-December)
- Submit (Dec 2016)
April 15: Finalize research question and methodology
May 15: Have permission to begin collecting data (from university as well as employer)
June 1: Have already initiated or be actively scheduling interviews/surveys
September 1: Main data collection finished. Start analyzing results.
October 15: No more data collection. Focus on analysis and writing.
4 thoughts on “Homework C: Timetable and logistical requirements”
Since we talk about a possible topic change I will not comment on this time table, although it isn’t bad and you captured the basic problems and requirements of the project.
Thanks for the input. I am meeting with Professor Hasebrink on Monday to discuss whether this project can be made feasible or whether I should switch topics.
I think the topic Alison proposes bears a lot of relevance since in the last 5 years the digital or new media are having an ever increasing importance worldwide especially on the area of mobile communication with a shift from traditional computers to mobile devices. This phenomenon is even more accentuated in people on the move which is especially the case of migrant people as well, since this technology enables them to remain continuously connected with their relatives and the events back home regardless their location.
As for the methodology, Alison already acknowledges the huge problem that the language barrier represents. Therefore, semi-structured interviews would be difficult to conduct. This is also the case on the qualitative surveys. If there is no person proficient in East Iranian languages available to help conducting the interviews, maybe a simpler quantitative survey would be a better solution. In this way more samples could be taken and, thus, the results could be more representative of the whole population. Contrary to what was stated by Alison, I do not agree with the assumption that the results of qualitative surveys could be generalized that easily. The third methodology sounds very interesting. However, Alison already recognizes the breach of privacy that this would represent. Alison would also only focus on the data transmitted by the mobile network and not through wireless connection. Maybe people are more active on the social networks when they have a broadband connection since this enables them to access all kinds of heavy data applications including video streaming. This is an important issue considering the limited data plans offered here in Germany by the telecommunications providers. Lastly, the technical details of such methodology are needed. Will the researcher develop and install and application recording the data usage? If so, then a software developer would be needed.
The timetable and logistical issues are dependent on the methodology chosen. The research will take much more time if a translator is needed as well as it will dependent on its efficiency. The other important issue is the one regarding the ethics of working with underage teenagers. An authorization from their parents or their legal guardians will be probably needed.
Thanks for your feedback!