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Participants withdrawing


User: JGalt - 05 November 2020 09:50

My research project is comparatively analysing the level of success of two social movements, one in the UK and one in Switzerland.

I contacted both organisations in my first year, and again in my second year, and they were both really eager to participate. I started my fieldwork by conducting the Swiss interviews via Zoom in April during lockdown. All of these participants were quick to respond and made time for me straight away. I got all the interviews finished by June.

However, I then turned my attention to my UK research by emailing the British group I’m analysing to arrange the interviews and they are no longer responding to my emails. I emailed one person back in March but haven’t received a response, and I tried a second person back in July but no response. I’ve chased them but still nothing.

Thankfully, I’d managed to arrange an interview with the founder of the organisation, who works somewhere else now. However, he didn’t show up for our scheduled call and he’s not responding to my emails now either. He sent me his consent form only two days before our interview day, so he was clearly intending on doing it.

I’ve tried telling myself this is just because people are busy/stressed due to COVID and I’ve been patient, but this has been months now and these people clearly don’t want to participate in the research anymore.

Has anyone else experienced key participants reneging/withdrawing for fieldwork? Should I ask my supervisor if I can remove the UK element and just analyse the Swiss organisation?

I was considering just finding grassroots activists for the organisation and interviewing them instead, however they won’t know any of the strategic details about running the campaign.

Thanks!

User: PhoenixFortune - 05 November 2020 16:33

Quote From JGalt:
My research project is comparatively analysing the level of success of two social movements, one in the UK and one in Switzerland.

I contacted both organisations in my first year, and again in my second year, and they were both really eager to participate. I started my fieldwork by conducting the Swiss interviews via Zoom in April during lockdown. All of these participants were quick to respond and made time for me straight away. I got all the interviews finished by June.

However, I then turned my attention to my UK research by emailing the British group I’m analysing to arrange the interviews and they are no longer responding to my emails. I emailed one person back in March but haven’t received a response, and I tried a second person back in July but no response. I’ve chased them but still nothing.

Thankfully, I’d managed to arrange an interview with the founder of the organisation, who works somewhere else now. However, he didn’t show up for our scheduled call and he’s not responding to my emails now either. He sent me his consent form only two days before our interview day, so he was clearly intending on doing it.

I’ve tried telling myself this is just because people are busy/stressed due to COVID and I’ve been patient, but this has been months now and these people clearly don’t want to participate in the research anymore.

Has anyone else experienced key participants reneging/withdrawing for fieldwork? Should I ask my supervisor if I can remove the UK element and just analyse the Swiss organisation?

I was considering just finding grassroots activists for the organisation and interviewing them instead, however they won’t know any of the strategic details about running the campaign.

Thanks!
Do you have any other contact information like a phone number for the organisation in question? Emails can easily be ignored or misplaced, whilst phone calls give you an immediate yes/no.

It does seem odd that the founder didn't turn up (presumably without any warning or reason given). I don't know the nature of the social movement, but could there perhaps be a reason that they no longer want to participate (e.g. changing political/social situation, knowledge of your connection to the Swiss movement etc.)?

User: JGalt - 05 November 2020 18:18

I heard from the founder today, he forgot. Rescheduled for tomorrow, so hopefully it materialises this time.

I tried to call their offices but they are working from home so I didn’t get hold of anybody.

I do worry that they’re scared about somebody researching the effectiveness of their campaign. My supervisor has dealt with them before and he calls them ‘disorganised’ (in my experience, they’re just bad) so I wonder if they’re worried about my findings, which they think could affect their funding.

I’ll see what the founder says tomorrow and go from there. I’ve been really frustrated by how flaky or unreliable participants have been during my fieldwork. I think the use of audio conferencing during COVID makes it worse, because it’s easier to drop out of a zoom call than a face to face meeting





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