Monday, July 9, 2012

eleventh hour chaos rethought

Just got off the phone with one of my grad students who is one week away from submitting the thesis to grad studies for a summer graduation. We've been through more rounds of substantive and stylistic revisions--not to mention formatting edits--than I can remember. It is a very good product. I'm very proud of the student and the work. So, so happy it's about to take flight. Then what happens? An interviewee, blithely ignorant of the more practical ramifications of doing so at the last minute, calls student today and says she has decided she wants to withdraw her interview. "It was a great experience and all,"...but she's shy about sharing the content with a wider audience, not sure it was her place to participate in the discussion on behalf of her community and so forth. Understood (but kind of unfortunate, too, as she represented a particular group and perspective that would have been valuable for others, including her own peers, to read and hear about), but couldn't she have made this decision a year ago, before the interview was transcribed, the data integrated into the thesis, the transcript labeled as Appendix D, and cited as such (here, there and everywhere) throughout the larger body of the thesis? Sigh. I've never had this happen before, and obviously neither has the student.  Our solution? Leave the cover sheet for said appendix/transcript (stands now as appendix "D"), remove the name of the individual, leave the date and place of the interview, then insert a single page to follow, noting that the interviewee elected to withdraw the transcript just prior to the filing of the thesis. We'll note that any direct references to the individual or the interview content have been removed from the qualitative data discussion, but any discussions of percentages or other quantitative analysis reflects the complete corpus of interviews. Or some such statement. This way, the student won't have to relabel (and change citations for!) all the other transcripts D through P or whatever it is--because locating and changing all those in-text citations would be trickier than a simple search and replace. Also, I don't think it serves any real end to completely obliterate the fact this interview took place.  And given the theoretical and methodological discussion to which this thesis contributes, it sort of instantiates the argument to have a community member withdraw her interview. At least that is what we are telling ourselves now. At this eleventh hour. But, I also think it is true. So I guess I've almost talked myself through this. Now to talk the student off of the precipice.
from an exhibit at MP2's alma mater 

Very clever birds, eh? I could use a cigarette right now...tequila and triple sec will have to do, since I'm not a smoker. But's been a long day. Of dealing, mostly, with the entirely predictable fall-out from one colleague's affair with the wife of another colleague. So yeah--a withdrawn interview isn't such a big deal in the wider scheme of things..right? 

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