As part of my final year studies at Manchester Metroplolitan University in Manchester, I am undergoing an independent study on British identity in costume drama film. This blog is a record of my thoughts and ideas, as i go through the research process. Any ideas and comments that people have about what I am studying will be greatly received and considered in my research.

Monday, April 10, 2006

transcribing cultural differences

I've been transcribing my American focus group this weekend, and have had a few difficulties!

The transciption process is the same as it was for the UK group as I'm using Transana, however, the American accents are making it slightly more complicated. I can distinguish betwen male and female voices, and I know Meghan's voice but the voices sound very similar. This has made transcribing slower as I am trying to understand what is being said when several people are talking and sound similar. It's taken some time, but I'm getting used to how each individual sounds. The focus group was filmed, which has made this easier, as I can look at the image to distinguish between individuals' comments.

There have also been some phrases and colloquialisms that I have had to try and 'interpret' - with the help of Meghan!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I have now received the video from Meghan of the American focus group so can begin to transcribe it. There were a few problems with the US/UK format differences that made me think for a moment that that tape was broken, causing a minor panic, but the technicalities of that have been sorted out now!

I'm underway with the writing of the study... It's difficult accumulating all the reading and research I have done over the last year into one piece of writing, and being able to communicate clearly all that I want to say. It's getting there a bit at a time!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

American focus group


The group in America was completed last night, and Meghan has put the video tapes used to record the discussions in the post so I should get them in about 5 days. I decided not to use a web camera to conduct the group myself in the end, as when we tried this out there was so much delay and jerking pictures that it was very distracting. I think the people in the group would feel a lot less comfortable if they couldn't really hear or see me properly, and the situation woul be a lot less like real life, so the conversation may have not been as revealing. I fully briefed Meghan about what too, so she could follow a similar pattern to what I had done with the group in England. I also think it's good to have an American leading the group because the participants may feel a lot more at ease to say what they really think, instead of worrying about offending me if I was 'virtually' with the group. I was a bit worried that having different people leading the groups would bring bias into the research, however, the idea of the focus groups is to provoke conversation about specific film clips. These clips remain the same, in exactly the same format and the questions areas being highlighted are the same. Tthe role of the group leader is to facilitate the conversation, and therefore it doesn't matter if the same person doesn't do both of them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

last-minute jitters

So it's pretty much one month now until the study has to be handed in, and I have a few worries to say the least. I know I'm gonna get through this, and do it well, because it's a challenge and I can do it, I just have to take it a step at a time.

I've been looking through my reading notes in my research diary and have suddenly got worried that I don't actually have enough materials to write my study from. I have a lot but am not sure how many of them are very relevent. I look back at the reading I did when I first set out on my research and wasn't entirely sure where I was going, and see that that was clear from what I read and what I have made notes on! oh the luxury of hindsight, I just don't have the time to go back and reread everything with the knowledge I have now... But, that's the nature of progressive research I guess, you learn as you go along. I think my worries are just because I'm feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of writing the whole thing. Looking through my notes makes me think - what is that I am actually trying to say, and what evidence do I have to claim what I am claiming and why have I even done the study, what does it contribute to the research community?

I'm going to spend next week really getting myself to the place where I feel confident about what I'm going to write. Although I realise that reading absolutley everything I want to is an impossibility, there are gaps that I want to fill, where I have thought about things but am not sure what others have said about it.

I'm worried about my focus group in America as I heard from Meghan last night that she can't do the focus group now until Tuesday (28th March) - which drew my quite close to tears last night when I found out whilst trying to write another essay. I was hoping to have the tapes back from Meghan this weekend so I can get them transcribed and analysed before I start my writing up next weekend. Rationally thinking about it, I'm just gonna have to start writing some parts of it while I'm waiting to recieve the tapes, then take a couple of days out to analyse them...but these are high pressure times! It's so hard when you don't have very much control over the situation!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

moving forward

Despite my concerns I am continuing to move forward with the study, by concerntrating on my analysis of the transcript of the UK focus group. I am familiarising myself with the script and looking for themes through it in a thematic analysis.

I have developed a structure for the write up of the study, which has helped me to think about how I will construct all of thoughts, reading, and research into a coherent form. I have been concerned about fairly distributing my word allowance between sections and knowing what is required of me in each of these areas - for academic purposes and so that the written study makes sense to any reader, and generating a solid structure has been beneficial to this.

I'm continuing to build up my research of texts ready to prepare for writing up the study. I have tried to write the piece as I'm going along, however, am finding the process very difficult. Instead I have continually been writing in various forms as I have undergone the research process but am going to do the final write up intensely from this point on, over a few weeks.


It's been difficult the last couple of weeks because I don't want to get behind in my schedule for the study, and I feel that it could easily happen. The focus group in America has still not taken place because Meghan has had other committments and problems, which is fine, but means my scheule is under more strain. The problem I have is that this is a situation that I have little control over, as the group can only happen when everything is running smoothly in Florida, and so I can't do much about it. There's also the problem of the distance between Manchester and Florida because after the focus group has been done, I still have to receive the recording of them, transcribe them and then analyse them within a very short space of time... and then write it all up! Ahh, it's slightly stressful, I'm really feeling the pressure with this study and all the other responsibilities of university study and everyday life that I have to balance at the same time.

Monday, March 06, 2006

American focus group

Plans for the focus group in America are going well... I have sent the DVD over there for Meghan to use when the group takes place.

We still have to work on making sure the webcams work ok, but I've decided that I will fully brief Meghan about the group and what I want her to do, so she can lead it. We now need to get the group done, but that can't happen until next week, due to things happening in America. This is slightly stressful because the DV tapes that the group will be recorded on will then have to be sent back to me, which will take a few days, before I can analyse them.

Monday, February 27, 2006

film interpretations

While I've been transcribing the focus group today, I've noticed that a lot of comments are people's interpretations of the films. I was wondering how useful these are...
I realise that these are interpretions and therefore are observed and individuals apply their own world-view (epistemology), values and understandings to what they see to make sense of them. Therefore, their interpretations reveal something of the individual's understanding and experience of Britishness, because they use that in their interpretation.

Every person has the ability to interpret images a different way, although some ways will be more common due to the way the film has been made (dominant reading). The experiences they have must inform that interpretation in some way.


I am not completely transcribing the whole of the focus group because I do not think there is a need to, I have considered why I am transcribing (written in my research diary) and think a complete transcription is not necessary.

I am going to summarise what is said throughout and fully transcribe (without too much detail to colloquialism) sections that I think are important and informative. In this way, I am analysing the data as I go along, making judgements about its 'usefulness' to my research. I will select points that inform me about people's understanding and perception of Britishness. This means the interpretation is very much in my hands, so I will try to not let my own ideas cloud my judgment about what counts as comments about Britishness, but be open.


I am using a free software package produced by the Wisconsin Centre for Education Research called 'Transana' to help me transcribe my focus group audio. I've never used it before so its taking a bit of time to familiarise myself with the programme and get used to how it works. It's good because I'm learning new skills that will help to transcribe more efficiently and analyse my data.

After reading several books and articles I have decided that I am definately going to analyse my focus group data with thematic analysis. I am still considering exactly how I will do this, but will set to work transcrbing first, and continue to consider this.