The metaphor of ‘missing data’ in qualitative research

How does the metaphor of ‘missing data’ work for you in relation to qualitative research?

Graham Crow tested this idea out with 12 of us (all PhD students) this week at a National Centre for Research Methods course. We discussed missing data as missing people, missing words, missing documents, missing contextual information and missed opportunities, as well as the ethics of missing data.

I’m at the stage of struggling with the narrative outline of my PhD; what is its argument, its story? What struck me was how the notion of ‘missing data’ gives you a slightly different way of thinking through all aspects of your research design and practice. This means that, rather than having to break the circuit to focus on one aspect, you can keep the current flowing so it becomes easier to spot where there is resistance.

Questioning my PhD narrative for ‘missing data’ has helped me realise I need to add a connecting element, as well as how to design it. As is often the case, the power for my lightbulb moment was already coming in via a messy tangle of cables, but I needed something to flick the switch.

The NCRM course ‘Missing Data’ in qualitative research: problems and responses with Professor Graham Crow was on Tuesday 19th May 2015 at the University of Edinburgh.

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