Going into yesterday's class my questions were: What differentiate's case studies from other forms of qualitative research? And how does one perform a case study? How does a researcher decide whether or not to use the real names of their web sources?
Since I am doing my thesis research on websites I'm wrestling with the issue of naming my sources. I looked at narratives posted on personal websites that are publicly available via webrings. All the sites were created by individuals with a chronic illness, which would likely make this a vulnerable population. However, I've been treating their narratives as published texts. None of the narratives could be considered a conversation beyond the concept of any disability narrative adding to the "conversation" about chronic illness and disability.
Many of the sites acknowledge the possibility for a wide audience--but did the authors anticipate a researcher as part of that audience? Probably not. So in that case, I feel like I should give them pseudonyms (even beyond the screen names that many already use). However, because I'm treating these sites as copyrighted texts for public consumption, I feel like using their real screen names (in some cases this is their actual name) instead of pseudonyms. If it is a copyrighted text, then is there any reason to use a pseudonym? And if I do use a pseudonym in the text of my thesis, how do I cite the websites in my references?
Yesterday's class was completely different from what I thought it would be, but I have to say I learned a lot, though not necessarily about how to conduct a case study.
I enjoyed Dr. Hill-Duin's presentation because I'm currently involved in a partnership that, given Dr. Hill-Duin's lecture, is most likely doomed to fail. Basically, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the UW-System have decided that in the interest of offering anytime-anywhere education, tech schools and universities should offer classes that transfer between the two systems. The administrators in the WTCS system and UW system think this is a great idea, as do the instructors at the tech school. However, the university instructors, myself included, generally feel that this is an inherently bad idea--that the missions of the two systems are so different and courses so tailored to students' needs at each institution that letting tech school students transfer credits to the UW system essentially "waters down" our curriculum.
I do realize that factors such as "ego" are definitely involved, but (and I won't go into all of the details) egos aside, the planning and administration thus far have pretty much gone counter to all that Dr. Hill-Duin discussed last night. Consequently, I found her presentation incredibly enlightning at least on a personal level.
That said, I do wish more had been said specificially about the tie in of her involvement and the use of case study methodology as a process rather than a discussion of case study attributes that her project(s) involve. This is, however, a rather small issue, as we will be continuing our discussion of case study next week anyway; furthermore, I found her presentation so useful on a personal level, that it seems almost strange that she would be talking about partnering during the very week that I have a meeting to discuss our less-than-functional partnership here. Regardless, I guess my discussion question for this week is about case study as a methodology. We talked about this some last night, but I would still like to hear more from people on how they parse the concepts of "case study" v. "ethnography" v. "phenomenological research" v. "narrative research," v. "grounded theory" that we discussed at the beginning of the course in Cresswell, p. 14-15.