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With reflection it is fair to say that after such a glorious weekend the days that followed were always likely to seem challenging, however by any stretch of the imagination I don’t think I could have envisaged just how difficult they were to become.  By Thursday afternoon the word ‘meltdown’ was being liberally spouted from my mouth…!  

In short, I have hit a problem with the Ph.D. project.  All research has moments like this, and when I use my logical brain I can easily sit and discuss how such issues offer advantages as well as challenges, and be thankful that the study has a purposely flexible design, to cope with such eventualities. It is just when I am tired, or when I reach what I feel is a saturation point of contingency planning, I feel sometimes I would just prefer things to be straight-forward. For once.  Please. 

 To put the issue into context, my project design involves running 3 separate studies in parallel, to enable maximum efficiency when working with limited resources, most notably the time of the Healthcare Professionals involved. Thus 1 interview provides data for up to 3 study aims, without the need for additional interview sessions with the same participant.  This has worked well, and has allowed Studies 1 and 2 to progress at planned speed throughout June and July.  However, Study 3 has a segment which is reliant on findings from the interview phase, to allow for data analysis during September, and it is here that the ‘problem/challenge/crisis/meltdown’ has occurred.  The findings from the interviews has proven to be much more complex (a positive on one side) when analysed than previously thought, which prohibits the required data analysis in the form first planned.  

This dawning realisation, checked, re-checked and worked-through-on-the-white-board-and-triple-checked led to a last-minute cancellation of an interview (which I hated doing), and a brainstorming session with a very lovely fellow researcher, and we have now carved out a future plan….  Despair to excitement in the space on one afternoon, 4 colours of white-board marker, 6 cups of tea, and a walk along a canal to feed the ducks. 

I am now off for a break for a couple of weeks – very much needed – and am feeling a lot more confident about moving forwards when I come back.  I need to get back to my host NHS site, talk over the new plans with my key support links there, and with the best of luck things will be able to go ahead as I hope.  If not, I fear we may really see the donkey flip…………

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