I'm working through my "rebuttal" to the IRB people, and it's kind of forcing me to confront some of my major methodological inadequacies. The easy solution is to blame my training -- for which I do believe some blame can be distributed. My department does not provide a particularly rigorous methods course, and when I try to work in the public health domain, I find that I have to constantly justify every method, every methodological approach, and the scientific rigor of the method. It's exhausting and deeply frustrating. Part of it is that it reveals my scholarly limitations, and I hate having to defend every research decision I make. I know that this is part of the road of academia, but have I mentioned I really hate it?
One of the least favorite parts is the demand to have lots and lots of references. I do understand why others' published work on something can help to demonstrate the reproducibility of the research methods, but it's particularly weird when the request for references demands evidence for the success of a very classic ethnographic technique -- such as observations. Casting around for the right bibliography is sort of impossible. Much of the ethnographies that I've read, the anthropology style ones, anyway, don't itemize their methods in great detail, and most anthropologists expect that we've already moved beyond needing to prove our more common methods to be legitimate.
I know, I know, I often proclaim my undying enthusiasm for explaining complicated concepts to those who may not be familiar with them (though this blog suggests that I am also terribly lazy when it comes to doing that, as well). But there is something different -- perhaps even haughty -- about scientists' skepticism that my research design is sound. Even better is when the very limitations and restrictions imposed by the higher-ups then proceed to cause problems with the research execution; yet, I'm required to justify decisions that had to be made given the confines of the project itself. It's all very circular and highly irritating. But, on the upside, it has forced methodological reflection. Not only in me, but in one of the beloved fellow "qual" researchers. I'm trying to see this like exercise -- often unfun in the moment but full of longterm benefits. Wheee.