a qualitative research to understand cellphone usage of vegetable vendors in Ujjain,
India in collaboration with IBM India Research labs' Open Collaborative Program
IBM India Research Lab
Ashka, Mayukhini, Sushil, Purnima
Findings from on-field research
Research nature and process
By and large research method opted for the user study is positivist and quantitive in nature with fixed categories and predefined statistical methods.
Conclusions drawn with this method have not been foolproof especially when it comes to understanding the culture and behaviors of the community. In a community, each individual has their own meanings and symbols.
There are also archetype symbols and which are common to all individuals of the community. These symbols or categories are elementary objects to understand user group or the community.
Phenomenological approach is more suitable to find out these symbols or categories. This process involves lengthy and strategical process of participating and observing in the field, documenting and then reviewing the data.
Participant observation is a strategy used to collect an outsider's view of the community which involves observing physical spaces, appearance, physical/verbal behaviors, content of the conversation and people who stand out. It also includes observing the researcher's own impact, feelings and thoughts. As a part of on-field research,
I spent 15 days making observations in four different vegetable markets in Ujjain.
Long interview is a powerful tool to understand individual's world view.
It is an adequate combination of leading, non-leading and directive questions to gather information about individual's biographical data, daily routines, family background, village background and community details.
Transcribing and encoding
Then, the last stage is to transcribe and encode interviews as well as observations to derive research finding.
Long interviews and participant observations combined gives approximately complete view of the user community.