Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A slave to the methods

I had heard it, read it.
It is possible to become enslaved by methods.
I thought "Haha, those stupid people! It will never happen to me."
But before I truly realized I was running because methods asked me to run. Not my research question demanded running in order to be answered.

To clarify my point, here is the primeval situation:
I wanted to know about land-based livelihoods in my study-area.
How to find out about it in a systematic way?
Use an interview!
And to make data analysis really easy: make a simple interview. Make a questionnaire. Think in terms of your database!
Thinking in terms of database means you cannot think in terms of your research question anymore. As little as you can have two focusses for drawing one circle. Silly PhD's obviously can't think as if they were travelling through a tunnel from both extremes at the same time. Therefore the focus shifts from answering the research questions to ask things that can yield data that is easy to analyze. I've spend ages with it. First I made an interview based on my research question, then I wanted to improve it and thought in terms of database. I was encouraged to do so. In the end I have an interview that would yield a nice straight forward database but no results of interest to me. Should I proceed? I've been wrestling with that interview for months, why not wrestle a bit more? Everyone does it. You can always do some interesting stats with a nice database. You can compare variables you never ever wanted to compare. You can have statistically significant results (THE THING).
But it doesn't make sense anymore.
What really matters is that I am comfortable with my interview. That I can lean on it like others lean on their sofas. If I like it, if it makes sense to me, I will be able to deal with the results even if they crack the SPSS window. We have to recode anyways.
I worked so hard to develop that interview, read so much background stuff, even took 1 question from a WorldBank standardized interview. (It was the only question my supervisor said it was really silly.)
Falling slave to the methods and the catharsis of finding it out was a terrible experience. But it woke me up to the fact that all my stress comes from me not seeing the meaning, not from the amount of work ahead of me.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Sossega

Sossega, coração! Não desesperes!
Talvez um dia, para além dos dias,
Encontres o que queres porque o queres.
Então, livre de falsas nostalgias,
Atingirás a perfeição de seres.

Mas pobre sonho o que só quer não tê-lo!
Pobre esperença a de existir somente!
Como quem passa a mão pelo cabelo
E em si mesmo se sente diferente,
Como faz mal ao sonho o concebê-lo!

Sossega, coração, contudo! Dorme!
O sossego não quer razão nem causa.
Quer só a noite plácida e enorme,
A grande, universal, solene pausa
Antes que tudo em tudo se transforme.

Fernando Pessoa, 2-8-1933.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rubbish

Amazon is rubbish. They don't allow you to comment on a book if you haven't bought anything from them with the particular account you want to use to write a comment! They say that's to assure high standards of reviews! But please: I could buy loads of books from them and STILL write rubbish reviews. That's not a reason, come on!
Actually I wanted to be the first to comment on a book, saying what superficial rubbish it is, unworthy to be printed in the first place. But no: I'm not allowed to comment, making my sophisticated and very valid opinion known to the World.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Uma imagem...

...vale por mil palavras:
Distribuicao relativa do peso de ajudas a agricultura para a margem bruta do rendimento agricola, por concelho. (baseado no RGA 1989/99)

Monday, 2 March 2009

Feira de cestos 1940

Do acervo fotográfico do Ministério da Agricultura.

Socorro!

"Também a concentração numa visão orientada para a produção agrícola de base desligada das actividades de comercialização e transformação tem diminuído as suas possibilidades de desenvolvimento, designadamente através do efeito multiplicador que estas podem ter a montante. Pela integração a que obrigam, pela promoção de valor que fomentam e, ainda, pela estruturação indirecta, pela via funcional, que possibilitam, pode-se ganhar a dimensão económica que outros instrumentos mais clássicos não asseguram."

Plano Estratégico Nacional de Desenvolvimento Rural 2007-2013, p. 3

O que é que eles quererão dizer?
Ou eu sou muito burra ou isto simplesmente não é para ser percebido...
Ou então isto é um daqueles jogos em que tiraram as vírgulas para mostrar como elas são importantes para se perceber um texto?