By: Caroline Boone
Over my two and a half years working as an Undergraduate Research Scholar at the Voinovich School, I have been involved in a number of qualitative research projects. Most recently, I have been working on an evaluation for a federal grant which funds trainings and programs to support at-risk children.
This week I have been doing data entry and instrument preparation of parent surveys and training evaluations. What does that mean? It means I’ve been entering numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and stuffing envelopes. This is research? Yes. It turns out that, in order to complete an analysis or evaluation, you have to have data to work with. The glossy final report documents that we love to show off and say, “Look what we did! Look at the impact we’re making!” come from Excel spreadsheets of data that someone, like me, entered.
The neat thing about being a Research Scholar at the Voinovich School is that I have been involved at all stages of the research process. I don’t always stuff envelopes. I have been involved in developing survey instruments, doing background research on numerous topics, and writing up best practices – tasks that are integral to the development of an evaluation. My role is to jump into a project wherever I am needed; each job I complete is equally important to achieving the project goal. I can honestly say that stuffing envelopes with surveys is just as important as writing the final report.
Next week, I am transcribing interviews. My supervisor does not seem to understand my excitement, but I think I am looking forward to it just because it is a new skill I can develop. (As an added bonus, my senior thesis will be primarily interview-based so I need the transcription practice. Ulterior motives, oops.) Tune in next time to see if transcription is my new favorite hobby!