Writing such extended works as research papers and dissertations, describing different projects, and reflecting other information, students should use the method of journaling for better development of data. Journaling may be used as the research instrument for data collection. The main idea of journaling is to cover the information which may be helpful in future research. Journaling is defined as “the way of getting in touch with yourself in terms of reflection, catharsis, remembrance, creation, exploration, problem-solving, and personal growth” (Janesick, 2010, p. 159) and should be completed for a number of steps. Therefore, there are some specific rules which should be followed. Thus, considering the specifics of the method, it should be stated that journaling is a very effective additional tool for qualitative research.
Hatch (2002) is sure that journaling is one of the best ways for keeping track of personal experience. Spending several minutes writing some notes in a journal, people are sure to remember the most interesting details. Thus, when people write down their actions, they as if note their experience. It is very difficult to remember all the information connected with the research. Therefore, Hatch (2002) is sure that conducting qualitative research, especially observational studies, a researcher should keep a journal. Effective experience writing is should be reflected in the research journal. One of the main conditions for creating an effective journal is making entries every day. Thus, a researcher should spend several minutes summarizing the information considered during the day and writing it down in the research journal. Journaling may be considered as an extension of the bracketing and it should give the researcher “some distance on the research process and provide a way to monitor his or her personal reactions to what is being discovered” (Hatch, 2002, p. 88).
Pinnegar & Hamilton (2009) draw a parallel between self-studying and journaling. The authors of the book stress the importance of the method in qualitative research and offer the following characteristic features of journaling as one of the means of self-studying.
- Journaling should be self-initiated and focused. The researcher should cover the information devoted to the main idea of the research, to the personal attitude to the future experiment, and to the experience, the researcher is gaining every day.
- Journaling should be improvement aimed. Making notes in the journal, a researcher should understand that the information there should increase and improve every day, therefore, more details should be offered each following day in comparison with the previous one.
- Journaling should be interactive. Collaboration with others in practical research is important. Therefore, while making notes, a researcher should remember about additional research and supportive data which have been used while observations or other types of experiments. The professionalism of the research is defined not only by the skills in making practical experiments and following the instructions but also in the skill of using data appropriately which is defined via interactivity of information use.
- Journaling should support multiple, primary qualitative methods. Describing some particular data by means of journaling, students usually conduct the following types of research (in most cases the research is a quantitative one), “action research, narrative inquiry, hermeneutics, phenomenology, as well as a variety of methods such as observations, interviews, surveys, artistic methods” (Pinnegar, & Hamilton, 2009), etc.
- Finally, journaling should carry the characteristic features of exemplar-based validation. Validation is accomplished when “the results of a study come to be viewed as sufficiently trustworthy for their investigators to rely upon in their own work” (Pinnegar, & Hamilton, 2009). In other words, while journaling we represent our methods, tools, data, and findings for observation.
Therefore, why is journaling valued while conducting qualitative research? The main idea of qualitative research is a top provide a detailed description of the data gathered and specific types of the experiment. If the research has been conducted for several years, a person should keep in mind all the data gathered in different periods of time. Journaling is the best way out in this case. First of all, the information noted while journaling is chronologically structured. Second, it is informative and substantial as a researcher spends some time making notes (Krysik & Finn, 2010). The written information is usually devoted to the observation, some data, conclusions, and remarks which appear to be rather important after the data is analyzed and evaluated.
Therefore, it should be concluded that journaling is a specific and very useful tool for conducting qualitative research. The information written in such journals is really useful as it allows making a profound analysis of the data paying attention to the specific notes, experience, peculiarities of the practical research, etc. Using journaling as the means for data collection, a researcher may be sure to have the most detailed report about the experiment conduction at the end of the observation. I have experience in writing journals, that is why the information provided here is that detailed.
Hatch, J. A. Doing qualitative research in education settings. New York: SUNY Press, 2002.