When It All Falls Apart

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It was eleven months ago now that I excitedly wrote up a slightly vague post about a big research project I was going to be tackling at school. Since that time I think I’ve only mentioned it once or twice here. There have been a couple times when I excitedly drafted up a post about it, but got caught up in the details: how much can I say? how much do I want to say? how does this topic fit in here? And those posts have mostly vanished and none have been posted.

Now I’m finally writing about it. Now that it all fell apart.

Eleven months ago, my favourite professor suggested to me that I do this research and write an undergraduate thesis on it. She proposed that I help her with a big project she was working on and it just so happened that it overlapped in a bunch of areas I’m interested in: anthropology, native studies, and parenting. I was excited and I got onboard. The work I had to do just to get going was huge. I applied for a grant, but didn’t get it. I applied for ethics approval and went back and forth, back and forth - first with my professor and then with the ethics officer. I was so excited when I finally got ethics approval, I wanted to do it all right that day. So I started trying to schedule my interviews. Three people eventually replied out of the ten to fifteen we wanted. I got in one interview before the whole thing went down the drain. 

And so here I am now, with not much to show. While my feelings of disappointment and frustration were initially directed at my professor, a meeting with her made it clear that this was even more of a surprise to her than me. She invested years and grant money into the project that was now in pieces. 

For me, it was frustrating, for her, devastating. 

Now I’m stuck with a dilemma - do I stay or do I go? Do I use this failure as a research problem and look at what can go wrong in research with first nations people in a postcolonial setting? Or do I cut my losses and walk away?

I still don’t have an answer, but this has helped to remind me that there are no right answers.

0 wonderful comments: