Taking stock

January 26th, 2007

Today I managed to find enough clear time to stop and reflect on where I’ve gotten to with this stage of my research, and what I’ll do next. I’ve scheduled a meeting with my supervisors next Wednesday, and need to write a short progress report before the meeting.

So far I’ve completed 6 face-to-face interviews, involving a total of 8 people (one interview was a group discussion), and 7 email interviews. I’ve transcribed all of the face-to-face interviews and sent the transcripts back for review. One more email interview is partly completed, and two other people have agreed to be interviewed by email, but haven’t yet sent me any responses to the initial questions.

The respondents represent three different open source projects (one large, one medium, and one small), and quite a few different roles (such as core developer, local developer, project manager, project sponsor, and end user). I’ve learned that people see themselves in a wider range of project-related roles than most of the open source research literature suggests. Marketing and promotion is one aspect that many people have mentioned, which suggests to me that a satisfied open source project participant becomes an advocate (or evangelist) for their project.

The approach I’m using for this stage involves purposive interviews, where I select participants from a range of projects and backgrounds, and keep going until I’m not learning anything new. I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Most of the people I’ve been dealing with have been involved with their projects for several years, and I’d like to have a few more relatlve ‘newbies’ involved.

My plan for the next month or so is to carry out more interviews, complete the data analysis, and then start revising the model I developed for my research proposal. Then I’ll be developing a web-based survey to test the model. This is likely to take a month or so to get set up, given what I’ve recently learned about the survey tool I’ll be using. So it looks as if the survey will be ready in May or June.

One of the other things I’ve learned about research is that timing is important, and mine’s not very good. Sending out the first round of invitations at (American) Thanksgiving wasn’t a good idea, and then of course the second lot happened just before Christmas. I’m hoping that things will be a bit smoother now that the holiday season is over, and people’s routines are returning to normal.

Entry Filed under: Research


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