Living, eating and sleeping with a project

Over on Mark Zuckerberg’s Matrix, I updated my status with “when finishing a research project, I have found that I don’t so much work with the data, rather I put up with it.” Just as the finishing touches are being put to a report based on a data gathering process that you may have worked on, you can get sick to the back teeth of the information you believe you see coming from the results.

So part of my work is about devising projects (usually in conjunction with other people who need them) that usually involve the following:

  • agreement on a project’s outline and purpose
  • a data collection process
  • a data analysis process
  • report writing
  • gauging if the report fits with the group who wanted this
  • handing it over to them and moving on to the next project

Great expectation about what is possible this time is followed shortly by a convenient forgetting of the time before you did this. Some women say they cannot remember giving birth to their child and this is because it can be so painful. Given that projects can take about 8 months to get through and I am on my second such project since December, that’s a fairly cramped 16 ‘work months’. Just today I am putting together the last section of a report for a development agency that arose from an analysis of focus groups and almost 400 questionnaires. It’s due next week (hell of a week to start a blog again then huh?). I’m not moaning but right towards the end, it’s like the inevitable end of a relationship: you know the break up is coming but you have to tolerate it for another while yet. So I’m gritting my teeth as I pour over the 16% of this and the 68.3% of that and wonder if what that person said is what I’m reading into it or if that inflection is significant in the ‘bigger picture’.

In short, it’s not just the data that is undergoing analysis. OK, prevarication done.