As our time in the UK fades into the background, and the year ends, I have come to the realization that I need to collect data for my PhD research and get writing about it. Hopefully the many draft blog posts for my Diary of a Slow Traveller blog posts will make sure it doesn’t become a distant memory.
My favourite person made the observation while we were away that perhaps 2018 might need to be a year to stay close to home. With children getting married and the prospect of grandchildren not to mention a PhD, her observation struck a chord, albeit a jarring one!
In the weeks since we’ve returned to Adelaide I have been ruminating on my literature review. I have some feedback from my supervisors on it. The good news, at least 3 of my 25000 words are useful!
I’m now in the phase of re-editing it. There are some sections that I’m so over, it makes me nauseous to read them. That’s a challenge but it needs to be done. Why is it that’s each time you read something you feel the need to make sweeping changes? My goal is that by very early January the latest draft will be completed and sent to my supervisors for a further and final review because I really need to move on.
My favourite person’s observation that 2018 needs to be about my PhD makes sense. I’m a long way behind where I’d hoped to be.
There are good reasons, perhaps excuses (I’ll leave you to judge) for this. Some our personal. Others are the usual challenges of a PhD, a lack of motivation and lack of pressure – the only deadline is the one at the end. It also took me months longer than I’d expected to get my ethics approval.
I could write about the Ethics approval process but it’s pretty depressing. The delays weren’t because of the ethics committee but because as I worked on my interview protocol for my data collection, it was evident to my supervisors and then me that it wasn’t going to cut it. It meant a complete rethink of my research project, it wasn’t quite back to the drawing board but it was close.
To say that this was a highly frustrating and infuriating process would be an understatement, however I think what I’ve come up, with the help of my supervisors and the other members of family business team at my university is much better. The process was however a slow one.
The result was that instead of having completed my pilot interviews before we left for the UK and six weeks away from my research, I was able to fit in only some of my pilot interviews, leaving the balance of them until our return.
Since our return I’ve completed the pilot interviews, had a chance to reflect on my protocol and conducted a further dozen or so interviews. As a result, I’m about halfway through the data collection process. My supervisors tell me that this is good progress which is definitely a plus.
The upside of my research topic is that it is on family wine businesses. It’s a topic that gives me an excuse to pursue a passion about not just wine but the stories about the families behind the wine. Through my working life it was always the stories of the families that had engaged me with my work. The data collection process allows me to explore these stories so much more deeply and in quite a different way to that of my working life.
In that process I am reacquainting myself with some of Australia’s famous wines and exploring new ones and all under the pretext of my research. There is a romance with wine and coupled with the family connection, collecting the data is not a chore. It makes it easy to remember why I picked this research topic!
Collecting my data has provided me the opportunity to visit Langhorne Creek, a region an hour or so from Adelaide. The region has a long, by Australian standards, history of growing grapes and making wine. I have also been able to visit the Riverland, Australia’s major grape growing region. The Riverland is often passed over quickly when talking of our wines, but some famous names, innovations and very good wine comes from this region. Then there is SA’s more famous regions, The Barossa Valley, just an hour away from the centre of Adelaide, The Clare Valley 90 minutes away, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills that are pretty much suburbs of Adelaide. Each is rich with stories that will in some way I hope will contribute to my research.
I have adopted the strategy of getting to know each winery before I contact them. I have been reading about their history and also tried their wines. It’s only fair, as if I am going to ask them for their time then I should at least have tried their wine.
Being a customer is no hardship and a sign of my commitment to their business and has provide me an entree to their businesses. It’s an approach that has enabled me to collect about half the data I need. The challenge is now to get the remaining half.
This is proving to be the hard bit. Finding a contact and getting agreement to be involved is much harder than I’d hoped. I’ve tapped my contacts and networks to access key businesses but now I’ve reached the point of cold calling. It’s been a frustrating process.
Calls and emails just don’t get responses. I just need in the words of Taylor Swift, I need a few more family wine businesses to just say “Yes”.