How do I…

manage my Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research study?

Do you want to…?

Feel more confident about your ability to manage a significant piece of work like your IPA research study

Reduce uncertainty around how to manage certain aspects of your project

Become more savvy around managing stakeholder relationships

Learn how to find and maximise your IPA study buddy research support

If so, read on…

Managing yourself and your time

As you may already know, I firmly believe that project management is an underrated skill when it comes to completing a qualitative research project for a university degree, whatever the level of study

In my experience, it is important (if not essential) to spend some time getting to grips with strategies and ways of understanding how best to manage the task ahead of you if you want to minimise stress and maximise success

This can be broken down into a few different areas:

  • Effective planning strategies
  • Effective time management strategies
  • Strategies for managing external commitments alongside your research study, whatever they be
  • Tactics for identifying and accessing your research community and peer support
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Executing a substantial piece of work like an IPA study is liable to be important

This is because it is very likely to be:

  • The pinnacle of your lifetime’s academic achievement
  • The biggest piece of work across your educational journey for which you are individually responsible

There may therefore be quite a bit at stake for you, especially if you are a self-funding postgrad!

In addition, your research project will present the culmination of all the academic skills that you have developed during your education and degree(s) and this can be quite a scary prospect!

Personal qualities that will help you reach ‘mission accomplished’

Completing a qualitative research project, whatever the level of study, is a time-consuming, demanding, and fundamentally lonely process that can take anything from 2 to 10 years to finish

No matter how robust your social support system, you will need to dig deep and draw upon a high level of persistence to successfully reach ‘mission accomplished’

Cultivating these essential characteristics will help you in this endeavour:

~ Motivation

~ Commitment

~ An awareness of what is required

~ Perseverance

~ Resilience

~ The ability to manage setbacks

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You don’t need a brain the size of a planet to complete a qualitative research study

What you do need is grit, determination, and the ability to work hard and get up, dust yourself off, take on feedback and keep improving in the face of knockbacks

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TOP TIP #1: Get started early on

Gain an informed awareness of ‘the bigger picture’ from the get-go, including important deadlines and milestones that need to be met

Your *FREE* IPA Study Survival Guide will be invaluable to help here, along with your programme and institutional requirements – establish the details and become intimately familiar with them!

A high level of self-directed/independent study is expected for any level of degree and managing yourself and your time will be crucial to support this

Ninja planning skills will be your friend and trusted study buddy – make an effort to get to know them and cultivate their companionship

TOP TIP #2: Identify and access resources and support

Perform a research skills audit and work out where your strengths lie, and which areas require improvement, training, or input

Develop an action plan and identify what you need to do to get up to speed in any areas that require development. Identify what resources are available to help you

Actively seek help and access the support or input you need

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TOP TIP #3: Plan your time effectively

Develop effective time management skills

Taken as a whole, a research project can feel like an overwhelming challenge

Use baby steps or micro-commitments to divide the project itself and the phases within it into manageable slices or chunks

Tackling it one step at a time can help reduce overwhelm and maximise productivity

Your *FREE* IPA Study Survival Guide will help you with this!

TOP TIP #4: Be flexible!

You will probably find there are periods in your research journey which are unproductive and those that are really productive – this is entirely normal!

Always try your best to do something regularly towards your research study. Doing enough independent study will be essential to manage the research process (relatively) painlessly

If you fall into a black hole of despair, feel utterly overwhelmed at times, get really bored with the whole thing, or feel that it’s all going horribly wrong, don’t worry – this is entirely normal!

Be kind to yourself and try to work around it

For example, use peer support to help develop an action plan, or move on to something else so you at least feel you are doing something productive

Working on your reference list, organising your filing system or general background reading (as opposed to focused reading) are always good options in these moments

Elena shines forth as an expert in her field and she has the ability to share her knowledge without making the learner feel less than as far as confidence or ability. She is encouraging, she shares what she knows with grace and humility


Advanced IPA Data Analysis, September 2021

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Explore articles that examine different facets involved in managing your Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research study, plus the answers to frequently asked questions in this area

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