When I launched my Paranormal Survey onto the net I had no idea what the response would be – or how large – for as far as I could see this was the first time such an endeavour had been undertaken on such a scale. So, undaunted, I launched to questionnaire in September and left it open till the end of the year. From time to time Id check to see how the numbers were going. Of course it started off slowly but, once it gained momentum, the word spread, and the marketing campaign kicked in, the response to the survey was overwhelming and heartwarming at the same time.
My survey was handled by a third party – a company called SurveyMonkey. I used their infrastructure to format the survey, set the parameters and design the overall look and feel of the onscreen questionnaire. I tested and modified it before going live by using friends as the guinea pigs. They were patient and effusive with their comments and as it turned out, so were more than a few of the survey respondents. I couldnt count the number of times that survey participants left me a note thanking me for the opportunity to tell their story. Many expressed a sense of relief to be given the chance to document their anecdotes; others spoke of this being the first time they felt able to bear their souls and talk from the heart about incidences that had obviously impacted them greatly.
In stark contrast to the deeply personal narratives sits the quantitative data. It seems somehow wrong to reduce the participants to numbers – but that is the nature of research that deals in numbers. On the one hand quantitative data gives the reader (and the researcher) a handle to hold onto – facts to easily quote, an elegant way of managing a mass of data. But, it also veils the personal, the intimate, the heartbreaking stories behind the numbers.
I’m very pleased I chose to use a new research model – Mixed Methods Research. There is a lot of heated argument (or to be more polite, discussion) within academia about the merits of this method but, having used it so successfully, I’m in no doubt that it has its place in research. The book which became my permanent point of reference and one I’d recommend is entitled by John Creswell. This is widely regarded as the bible of this particular research model and for those contemplating formal research – be it in psychic studies of otherwise, it is well worth investigating.
Mixed Methods Research requires the gathering of both statistical and qualitative data – and therein lies its elegance. Statistics hide the true face of the topic under review – the human element – and in the current instance, it was the personal impact of parapsychological experiences that I was looking to document. Using the Mixed Methods Research model I achieved this and a whole lot more……..
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