Doing Developmental Phenomenography by John A Bowden and Pam Green

By John A Bowden and Pam Green

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While each of us did read and re-read the transcripts many times away from the team, any decisions about how the categories should be formed, and the wording to be adopted as most appropriate, fell to the team. John Bowden argues that the phenomenographic analysis should not begin until all of the interview transcripts are ready for reading as a whole. That is what we did in this project. This is quite different from naturalistic inquiry that centres on the emergent so that data are analysed all the way through and the emergent findings influence further data collection and therefore the overall research design.

Thus, the scenario needed varying a little. I altered the scenario only slightly in terms of actual word change, but this made a massive difference in the kinds of data gained and in the ability of the interviewees to tell a story or two about research. The re-wording, or rather additional words, also enabled the interviewee to select, if need be, one instance of research and use it for both parts of the interview that focused on the nature of successful research. The change in wording was simply a move from the above to the following (differences shown in bold): ‘I am going to ask you to tell me about some research that you have been engaged in.

This meant that we were frequently challenged to justify the ways in which we framed the categories. We had to go back to the data constantly and check for accuracy. ’ (trying to maximise difference to find a coherent, consistent and focused category) ‘How else might this be represented? (looking for another way to show the category – such as the use of grids and concept maps to show relationality). These processes are based on loyalty to data. An illustrative example comes to mind. At one meeting, John Bowden literally jumped up with an idea and started mapping a new way of seeing one of the categories for success on a whiteboard.

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