1. Acknowledge and refine your attitude.

We all experience reality from within a basic human framework. However, this basic framework allows for a diverse set of (at least at times) widely variant worldviews, which are derived from the interactions of a number of known factors. When doing research, phenomenologists pay particular attention to one such factor: one's own attitude. While they tend to focus particularly on one’s attitude at the onset of the experience, they also generally continue to note changes in attitude evoked during the experience, as well as its subsequent recollection, representation, analysis, and interpretation. While we encourage you to explore the specialized meaning that phenomenologists apply to the term attitude, here we define it generally as the paradigm or mindset motivating the desire to understand a person (or group of people) in some manner, and for some purpose.

It is important to explicitly acknowledge one’s initial attitude at the outset of a project, because this attitude determines one’s preconceived tendencies in terms of:
  • the perceived phenomenon of study, including the types of questions one asks, experiences one examines, or stimuli one creates;
  • the perceived context of the phenomenon, including that which surrounds its experience, interpretation, and the application of its results;
  • the types and aspects of potential data that one perceives to be focally important, and therefore attends to for greater periods of time;
  • the methods that one employs to analyze, essentialize, or evaluate one’s data;
  • the types and classes or states of variables that one selects to examine;
  • the natural language sample one acquires to represent or reveal the experience of the phenomenon.
For the same reasons, it is also important to let one’s attitude remain flexible, such that it can accommodate the experience itself throughout the project, and serve to elaborate on the revealed or evoked content of that experience in its apparently original form, rather than inadvertently forcing it into a theoretical, disciplinary, or other Procrustean bed.

Before turning to the specific actions involved in selecting an attitude, we note that the attitude that Raven’s Eye employs is described in the General tendencies and attitudes section of these Technicals. It is this attitude that both facilitates your research, and enables you to avoid some of the attitude-borne assumptions and limitations programmed into other natural language processing and qualitative data analysis programs.

The actions involved in acknowledging and refining an attitude now follow.

1.1 Select or construct a phenomenon.

Decide on the stimulus, experience, situation, or other phenomenon that you would like to understand more fully. Define it in terms of its apparent structure, function, or both.

1.2 Determine your context.

Identify the disciplinary and theoretical lens by which you are operating, the extant and relevant information or related scholarship on the phenomenon, and the outcomes desired from your project. Also examine the practicalities of your particular situation, and the way in which the data will be put to use.

1.3 Determine your focus.

Given the pre-existing knowledge base and current context informing your project, identify aspects of the phenomenon that would be particularly useful to understand more fully, and the specific ways in which an additional project could realistically complement or extend the knowledge already present.

1.4 Determine your general methodological approach.

Based on the focus you have taken and the context in which it will be revealed or applied, select a general methodology that complements both its apparent form and function. In this process, specifically note the types of quantitative and qualitative analyses you would like to perform during your project.

1.5 Select your variables and their respective classes or states.

According to the methods and analytic procedures you have selected, identify specific variables that both appear to be associated with the phenomenon, and are amenable to the types of analyses you expect to perform. As part of this, identify the appropriate scale or level of measurement for each variable, and delineate the states or classes in which you expect each variable to exist.

1.6 Define and acquire your natural language sample.

Once you have performed the preceding substeps, you are ready to define and acquire a natural language sample. To define your sample, consider the most appropriate means of revealing your phenomenon in natural language, and the group of people or textual records that best represent or reveal it. Having done so, define your natural language sample according to these bounds, and design your procedures such that you can most effectively acquire it. Note any practical limitations arising from your design, as well as any circumstances or events occurring during data acquisition that might influence results.

We encourage you to explicitly describe in writing the specific concepts, processes, and contexts involved during the acknowledgement and refinement of your attitude. Doing so not only helps others to understand the peoples, purposes and procedures involved in your project, and therefore the scope of your results, but also serves as a source of latter complementary investigation.