‘F’ – Fact-Find and Familiarise
Fact-finding and familiarising are important data collection tools which will help the participants find out more about the themes and topics ironed out by you. However, it is not enough to just explain the relevance of the theme being explored. It is equally important to ensure that the participants also conduct their own research during the session and share their findings with everyone.
‘F’ sessions would broadly consist of two components:
- Introduction to ‘F’: This would include explaining the aims and objectives of ‘F’ to the participants.
- Sessions on individual themes: This would include exploring the themes by dedicating one session to each theme
For instance, if you have decided to explore 8 themes, then there would be 9 sessions for ‘F’ (1 introduction session + 8 theme-based sessions).
The ‘F’ session is where the themes will be first introduced to the participants. Since these themes will be relevant throughout the Methodology based sessions, you should try and ensure that participants have a broad understanding of all of the themes.
In order to do this, time should be set apart during each session where participants can research and reflect on their findings. Not only will this ensure that participants gain an understanding through their individual research, but also that they get to hear the findings of other participants as well, thereby increasing their knowledge of the theme.
To facilitate this, a 120-minute session can be structured in the following manner:
Part 1: 10 minutes – Introduction to the theme by the facilitator
Part 2: 60 minutes – ‘F’ triangulation exercise in breakout rooms
Part 3: 50 minutes – Individual, concise summaries of the information being found. The time per participant should be restricted and divided based on the number of participants in the session.
A structure such as this ensures that most of the reading and understanding is done by participants in real time and that they are able to formulate their own opinions.
Introduction to ‘F’ would include highlighting the aims and objectives of ‘F’. It would also involve explaining triangulation as a tool for conducting ‘F’ so that participants can use it in their research during the call, as well as going forward.
For instance, the structure of a 120-minute session on ‘F’ would be as follows:
|Part 1: Introduction||20 minutes||Introduction to ‘F’ and the themes|
|Part 2: Demonstration||20 minutes||Demonstration of Triangulation|
|Part 3: Breakout rooms||40 minutes||Breakout room exercise using triangulation on a general topic (not one of the themes)|
|Part 4: Individual reflections||40 minutes||Individual reflections by participants|
1. Introduction points
A few points that could be highlighted to explain ‘F’ could include:
1. Not one size fits all:
‘F’ is not a definitive process; it is personal and individual in terms of the ways data is being collected. It is also important to consider that everyone’s circumstances are different with respect to the time available, access to resources, etc. It is important to make the most of available resources.
2. Keep an open mind:
It is important to always stay open to new information, since the information available will be subject to your time and effort. It is also important to ask questions which are not common and dig deeper to get more information.
Ethics should be considered by examining potential conflicts of interest between the researcher and research subject. For example, has the researcher been biased, what is the source of funding, is the researcher an expert, etc. It is also important to have an individual research process which is transparent so that even if inadequate or inaccurate information is collected, it is acknowledged in discussions and conversations.
4. Be critical:
It is crucial to be critical and differentiate facts from opinions. It is also important to be aware of what are facts and what are interpretations of facts. In doing so, one must look for multiple sources to confirm the accuracy of the data being found.
2. Demonstrating ‘F’ exercise using triangulation
1. Understanding triangulation
Triangulation is a tool of fact-finding and familiarising which includes collecting information from multiple sources. This method of information collection would be useful for participants to both fact-find by finding information, and also familiarise, through interactions with stakeholders and by engaging with opinions.
In triangulation, one needs to find information from 3 types of sources:
- Primary sources: This includes phone calls to stakeholders who are directly impacted by an issue or topic and aren’t necessarily experts on it. For example, when examining the management of the COVID situation in Delhi, one would look to call patients who have suffered from COVID, family members of patients, doctors, nurses, support staff in hospitals, organisations involved in the coordination effort, pharmacies, etc.
- Secondary sources: This includes collecting data online which is factual and is often found in pre-existing research studies. Using the same example of COVID in Delhi, secondary sources would include figures on the number of cases reported, number of treated patients, number of deaths, government reports, comments from hospitals, and Supreme Court and Delhi High Court documents, etc.
- Tertiary sources: This includes acquainting oneself with the opinions of various experts and stakeholders on an issue or topic. With respect to COVID in Delhi, tertiary sources would include opinions from journalists, political opinions, international perspectives on India, social media feedback, etc.
2. Using triangulation as a tool
Triangulation can be used as a tool to facilitate participants to conduct ‘F’. This could be done by providing participants time to conduct ‘F’ on each of the themes using triangulation.
This can be facilitated by dividing participants in breakout rooms and providing them time to collaborate and conduct ‘F’ using triangulation on the theme being explored.
3. Explaining triangulation
It is extremely important to explain the concept of triangulation, as well as to demonstrate a triangulation exercise, before expecting participants to conduct it on their own.
To do this, the team should prepare a question for the exercise and find sources for all three categories (primary, secondary and tertiary) in real-time i.e. on the call, to showcase that such an exercise is possible to conduct in the time allocated to them.
For demonstration, you may use examples of questions such as “The management of COVID in Delhi in the second wave” or “Assessing the impact of online, open book exams”.
To successfully demonstrate triangulation, you should prepare the sources you would be using in advance. For instance, if the question is regarding open book exams, then professors and/or students should be notified in advance that they will be called on by you for the purpose of the exercise.
Individual Theme-Based Sessions
Individual theme-based sessions would include conducting ‘F’ on the themes ironed out by you. For example, if you have 8 themes, then there will be 8 individual sessions, one for each theme.
As previously mentioned, while it is important for the facilitator to introduce the theme to the participants, it is equally important to ensure that participants are also conducting ‘F’ in real-time i.e., on call.
To accommodate this, the structure of a 120-minute/2-hour session on ‘F’ would be as follows:
|Part 1: Introduction to the theme||10 minutes||Brief introduction to the theme by the facilitator.|
|Part 2: Breakout room exercise||60 minutes||‘F’ triangulation exercise in breakout rooms|
|Part 3: Individual reflections||50 minutes||Individual, concise summaries of the information being found. The time per participant should be restricted and divided based on the number of participants in the session.|
1. Part 1: Introduction to the theme
The section on introducing the theme has deliberately been kept short. The objective of this part should primarily be to introduce the theme to the participants, in case they haven’t read it prior to the session.
The idea is to ensure that no individual opinions of the team or the facilitator are communicated to the participant. The participants should use triangulation to formulate their own opinions on the theme.
This should also extend to Q&As wherein facilitators should not encourage questions and should instead ask participants to themselves try and interpret the theme.
Introduction to the theme could therefore include:
- Reading the theme out loud;
- Revising the triangulation method;
- Explain breakout rooms and the time allocated to them; and
- Reminding participants that they will have to give individual reflections once they are back.
2. Part 2: Triangulation in breakout rooms
Depending on the number of participants, breakout rooms should be created in a manner that there are at least 3-4 participants in each room.
When the breakout rooms are ongoing, the facilitators should remain in the main sessions and avoid going from breakout room to breakout room to let the participants discuss. While in the initial sessions you may want to check to ensure that participants are collaborating, the process should be as hands off as possible.
3. Part 3: Summaries by participants
Once the breakout rooms are over, participants should come back to the main session where each individual participant should be asked to summarise their findings.
It is important to reiterate to participants that all findings are important and relevant, if not just for themselves, then for the other participants listening to them.
In terms of structure, participants should be invited one after the other to summarise their findings in up to 5 minutes to ensure that everyone gets time to speak on their findings.
Even at this time, the facilitator’s role should only be to listen and not provide personal feedback or opinion on what has been said.
Takeaways from ‘F’
1. For the participants
Immediately after the end of ‘F’, participants should be asked to submit their initial positions on the themes they have explored. The deadline to submit these positions must be prior to the ‘A’ sessions. The team should expect to conduct phone call follow ups for those who wouldn’t have submitted their initial positions by the deadline. Here is a template for the communication.
It is also important for the team to reiterate that the positions being submitted are only initial positions and that all participants will get the opportunity to revise these positions in ‘R’.
2. For the facilitators
For the facilitators, since you would be listening to the participants for the majority of the time, it would be important for you to try and assess the interests of each individual participant across the different themes.
This is especially important since the next step of the Methodology would be Advocating for Alternate Viewpoints ‘A’ wherein groups would be created to facilitate discussions.
Some factors that can help you understand the theme for which the participant is most interest in are provided below:
- Keeping a track of attendance for which sessions are being attended;
- Assessing the confidence of participants when presenting their summaries; and
- Assessing the initial positions submitted by participants on email.
Logistics for organising ‘F’ includes the following:
- Calendar invite
- Message on WhatsApp Group
Each of these communications should be sent at regular time intervals in the days preceding the ‘F’ sessions. Here are the templates for the communications.