Weekly research project bulletin 9.7.2015

During the last two weeks I’ve been conducting interviews for the phenomenological study of 3D virtual training environments. I’ve had pretty interesting discussions with the users. So this week’s been mostly about transcribing interviews – which sort of gives you a back, neck, elbow and wrist pain. Some themes are already starting to emerge, but I want to keep them at bay until I have transcribed everything and not jump into conclusions. Well, if I did, that would sort of be against the chosen descriptive phenomenological approach to analysis with bracketing and everything.

I’m doing the transcription myself, by hand. So no Dragon Dictate for me. The reason I am doing it like this is that I learned it already during my Masters research and one other research project that such a process gets you well immersed in the data. You become more one with it when you go through it several times. And boy, when you transcribe it, you really go through it several times. So that’s a good thing instead of a “process to be optimised”. Naturally if I had 50 people to be transcribed (and I can count roughtly 1 to 6 ratio for a transcription time, i.e. 1 hour of audio takes about 6 hours to transcribe), I probably would have to think other options too.


Just received a confirmation that a paper, “The Lived Experience of an Authentic Context in Virtual Environments: First Steps of a Descriptive Phenomenological Analysis in a Safety Training Setting“, co-authored with Hanna Teras and Torsten Reiners got accepted in the AACE 2015 E-Learn–World Conference on E-Learning.

It’s also that time of the year when Curtin Business School is having the annual 2-day Colloquium. I attended last year with a poster, which even won the best poster award. Full paper and a poster this year as now the research project is a bit further. Based on a paper by Randolph (2009), I used a phenomenological approach also to a part of the literature review in how research in human-computer interaction and especially in 3D virtual environments has described ’embodiment’. Hope to have some interesting results to present about this, and of the actual process of conducting it, at the colloquium.


Randolph, J. J. (2009). A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(13), 1–13. doi:10.1306/D426958A-2B26-11D7-8648000102C1865D

User experience of safety training and hazardous work settings in virtual environments

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (edited version). Original at  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AUS_Navy_090325-N-2959L-542_Astronauts_Tom_Marshburn%2C_left%2C_and_Dave_Wolf_train_for_a_spacewalk_in_the_Integrated_EVA-RMS_Virtual_Reality_Simulator_Facility_at_Johnson_Space_Center.jpg

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (edited version – not related to the study described here).

My PhD journey has now reached a point where data collection stage is finally at hand. Here’s what I am looking for, perhaps someone knows people who might be interested in participating.

My aim is to study how users experience safety training and hazardous work settings in virtual environments. The study approach is phenomenological analysis, and I am searching for about 15 people to be interviewed for an hour or so.

People who a) work and b) have gone through a virtual environment mediated training in contexts such as mining, minerals in general, chemicals, use of various kinds of large vehicles, would be perfect for this.

The aim of the study is,

  1. To describe the user experience of the virtual environment or context, and
  2. To examine what affected the experience and how it came about.

In case you want to know more, check out the research poster (the study focus and design has developed further from that, but it will sum up the basics): Teras Marko Research Poster. pdf

To contact me:

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/in/markoteras
Twitter: https://twitter.com/markoteras
Email: marko.teras(at)postgrad.curtin.edu.au


Doing literature review section on virtual embodiment with NVivo

Recently I’ve been developing a section of my PhD literature review that examines the concept of embodiment in virtual environments. Not too much about the topic here, but about the process itself.

I usually keep my journal articles and other stuff in Mendeley. It’s similar to EndNote (a bit better even IMHO), basically a simple software that lets you keep a tagged library of source materials that you can annotate and highlight. Also a nice feature is getting the right kind reference out of the software (if you are lucky) instead of having to write it yourself.

Still, with some processes such as trying to understand a concept by reading many source materials, I find Mendeley becomes too slow and a bit rigid. Yes you can highlight things and annotate directly to articles, but they don’t actually go anywhere as a list, nor can you compare the highlighted parts to other documents in the same folder, category or theme.

Then I remembered someone mentioned me using NVivo for “quick literature reviews” so I thought I’ll take 40 or so articles, drop them there and see what happens. At this stage, I really have give big thanks to Pat Bazeley who originally got me started with the software in the first place, way before my PhD journey! 🙂

NVivo seems to work quite nicely actually. I can see several benefits for doing the lit review like this, such as coding various articles and then writing them out in your own article, e.g. themed in an orderly fashion (instead of just one article a time or something). You can also link NVivo memos (which on the other hand could use some development) between different documents or highlights (codes) to ponder things further. Then basically combine that to a literature review draft.

So, at least this seems swell for now, and the Mac version seems to be quite fast too. I have used NVivo in one previous qualitative study with a PC and for some reason it seemed to crash quite often. The Mac version seems to be quite stable (knock on wood). One thing I’d like to test out in some point in the future is how it works with other non-written sources such as videos. I’m thinking of a study about comparing fictive and academic accounts about certain phenomena, and NVivo could be handy in that.

I also found an article by Randolph (2009), that kinda says lit reviews are generally crap but no one wants to admit it. Often they do not have a justified structure, nor are the chosen articles and rising themes examined critically enough. I feel when you really code the articles and keep a continuous memoing, it adds more of that always-requested rigour to the process. And I guess it will make it easier to write the whole thing anyway – instead of just glancing the articles and perhaps highlighting some parts.

More to read:

Randolph, J. J. (2009). A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review. Retreived from http://pareonline.net/pdf/v14n13.pdf

Pat Bazeley’s website has nice resources for coding with NVivo: http://www.researchsupport.com.au