How do males who identify as eating-disordered understand their own experiences? Designing the Research.

 Here’s the research design in brief so you can see what the project currently involves (this has been ethically approved by an anonymous review panel) and you can also get a sense of what I’m doing with your stories.

Research context (Where?)
– The study is focusing on UK males – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
– This has been selected due to the perceived lack of research being carried out in this country on its own citizens.
– Stories have been gathered between January 2010 – June 2011.
– The study is an individual, non-funded project undertaken for the award of PhD.

Study Design (How?)
– The study is a qualitative IMR hermeneutic project.
– This is deemed suitable as the research is highly exploratory in nature and needs to take account of emerging experiences of both the participants and the researcher.

Study Population (Who?)
– Males, over 18, in the UK, who voluntarily opt to take part.

Data collection methods (How?)
– Stories are sent by email from participant to researcher, mediated by an Internet website designed specifically for the purpose.
– This has been chosen to ensure a minimisation of boundary issues between conducting research or offering personal support and to give the potential participants the maximum control possible over how much, when and where they contribute.
– Only their written stories or experience with eating disorder are being collected

Data analysis (What & how?)
– All stories were already (or were copied and pasted into) Word documents.
– Obvious identifying information was removed.
– Line numbers were added for ease of discussion.
– Interlining and intralining are being used to capture interpretations.
– The stories are being subjected to hermeneutic interpretation as this offers the most freedom to critically interpret, understand the experiences and incorporate adequate reflective work.
– Initially the interpretive work is being tackled in four layers to build the richness, depth and coverage of the understanding.
– The principle of a hermeneutic spiral is being applied to move between part and whole with each story, each interpretation, each layer and the stories as a collective group.
– Decision trail documenting is being done through a commitment to journaling.
– The quality of the conclusions which will be drawn is assessed through: authenticity of the findings; contextualising between critical literature, men’s experiences and reflective engagement and the further engagement of participants in reading and commenting on my interpretations of their stories.

Study limitations
– The conclusions may not lead to generalisable findings or a theory of male eating disorder.
– Any interpretive endeavour is not finite and yet can only account for that interpretation.
– The impact of the research as the research instrument and an experiencer cannot be separated from the interpretations that are made.
– The interpretations can be studied, questioned and advanced through further interpretive work but the study is not ‘replicable’.

This design template is adapted from Hennink, M. M., Hutter, I. and Bailey, A. (2011) Qualitative research methods. Los Angeles; London: SAGE.