The demonstrator project
will have two major strands:
1. The critical consideration of the methodological (ethical,
intellectual and epistemological) issues involved in qualitative
data archiving, re-use and re-analysis. The project will develop
Web-based illustrations and exemplars, and offer potential
solutions to identified methodological dilemmas for data archiving
and reuse. The project will contribute to the development
of guidelines and procedures that enable qualitative researchers
to present, combine and communicate original datasets, with/in
appropriate methodological, analytical and theoretical contexts.
2. The development of open-source XML protocols and a suite
of tools for presenting the guidelines and case-study exemplars
to the user. This includes the capacity for user interaction
with/in the presentation in a customised way. This will be
achieved through the construction of an interactive Online
Guide and an interactive Methodological Trail (see below).
In the process, the applicability and accessibility of such
technological innovations for wider use in the qualitative
research community will be explored. Accordingly, this strand
will add value to the technological aims by testing out XML
tools for future data sharing and archiving.
The primary dataset that will be used to develop and test
protocols and workable tools will be that generated by the
Cardiff team as part of the project funded under the ESRC
Research Methods Programme. This is a rich, multimedia, digitized
data set, including a range of qualitative data (fieldnotes,
documents, interview transcripts and recordings, video, still
photography, soundscapes). The Cardiff team also has a second
multimedia dataset, generated as part on earlier ESRC funded
research project on hypermedia and ethnography. This will
also be utilized, where appropriate, for illustration and
demonstration purposes. The advantages of utilising these
existing datasets are considerable. They are already archived
in digital form. Contextual and methodological materials and
information are also either already available, or could easily
be prepared. Moreover, these projects have already explicitly
investigated the use of digital technologies for analyzing
and representing qualitative research.
Developing guidelines and exemplars
The programme of work will develop:
• Computer protocols and tools for XML data mark-up
for qualitative data in a range of media.
• An Online Guide (consisting of interactive guidelines
and exemplars concerning a range of methodological dilemmas)
for data re-users, using and testing the mark-up procedures.
• A hypertextual Methodological Trail (consisting of
a working model of a methodological route through our own
existing dataset and analysis) in order to illustrate how
the dilemmas described in the Online Guide were worked out
in an actual real-time project.
The Guide and the Trail will be developed using existing
datasets, which will be refined in terms of accessibility,
navigation, visualisation and the capacity to re-use the data
for the analytical and theoretical work proposed. Cardiff
and ESDS Qualidata will work collaboratively to explore a
number of key methodological ‘dilemmas’ which
require careful consideration, planning and design if data
are to be centrally archived and/or made available for re-use.
Each area will be explored and ‘tested’ with concrete
examples from existing datasets, and from this the Online
Guide will be developed and refined. These will then be fully
applied and illustrated through the hypertextual Methodological
Trail. These dilemmas will map onto key research questions
for the demonstrator project and will provide methodological,
epistemological and ethical frameworks for the practical development
of the technological tools and protocols.