Finished (at last!)

In mid-July I submitted the final version of my thesis to the library, and am now entitled to call myself Dr. Chawner. I don’t feel any different, though, and apart from the satisfaction of having completed (after far too long) a major piece of research, don’t expect my life to change. I’ve sent the abstract of my research to the people I interviewed, and to the discussion lists I sent invitations to complete the web-based survey to. In addition, I thought it might be a good idea to post a summary here, along with a few additional comments.

Research summary

The purpose of this research was to identify factors that affect participants’ satisfaction with their experience of a free/libre open source software (FLOSS) project. The research built on existing models of user satisfaction from the information systems literature, and also incorporated two characteristics of FLOSS projects first identified by Ye, Nakakoji, Yamamoto, and Kishida (2005), product openness and process openness. The central research question it answered was, What factors influence participant satisfaction with a free/libre and open source application software project?

Richard Stallman’s reasons for setting up the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation arose from his frustration at being forced to be a passive user of software used for a Xerox printer. These suggest that being able to be an active participant in a FLOSS project is one factor that should be examined, and therefore the first sub-question this project answers is, What types of contributions do participants make to free/libre and open source software projects?

Several studies have shown that the extent of participation in a FLOSS project varies from individual to individual, and this variation leads to the second sub-question, Do the factors that influence satisfaction vary for different types of participation? If so, in what way?

A preliminary conceptual model of factors affecting participant satisfaction was developed, reflecting the key concepts identified in the literature. The main theoretical goal of this research was to test the model using empirical data.

The research used a sequential, mixed methods approach. The first, qualitative stage involved reviewing documents from selected projects and interviewing a purposive sample of FLOSS project participants. The second, quantitative stage involved an online survey of FLOSS project participants, and the data gathered were used to test the conceptual model.

The results of the first stage showed that participation in FLOSS projects was a more complex construct than previously reported in the literature. Seven categories of activities were identified:

  • use;
  • interaction with code;
  • supporting the community;
  • outreach;
  • sponsorship;
  • management; and
  • governance.

I illustrated the relationships between the categories in a diagram that places ‘use’ at the centre (where I think it belongs, since ’software is for use’, to paraphrase Ranganathan’s first law of library science), and groups the other six categories in three pairs. There is more detail about why I used this grouping in the full thesis. One of the reasons I was interested in identifying different types of participation, and how they relate to each other, is that I feel that the onion-style model many people use to discuss what happens in a FLOSS community (which usually places code at the centre) overemphasises the importance of coding, and diminishes the importance of the user. I don’t mean to imply that coding isn’t important, but I think that other aspects of particpation are also important.

FLOSS contribution model

Four attributes that modified these categories were also identified: organisational focus, role formality, remuneration, and time commitment.

Data from 154 responses to the online survey were used to test the model using stepwise multiple regression, which determined the effect of each of the variables on overall participant satisfaction. Moderated regression analysis was used to test the effects of three potential moderating variables. The results showed that that perceived system complexity had the largest effect, decreasing satisfaction if respondents perceived that the software was complex, while process openness and perceived developer communication quality accounted for the most variance in satisfaction. The final conceptual model, based on the data, is below.

Revised research model

Overall, the model explains 44% of the variance in satisfaction; the β values show the standardised effect of each predictor variable on satisfaction.

The main theoretical contribution of this research lies in its extension of satisfaction studies to FLOSS communities, showing that communication and openness are more important than in conventional software projects. Its practical contribution will help people involved in the management and governance of FLOSS projects to identify ways of increasing their participants’ satisfaction, which may in turn encourage them to contribute more.

The final version of the thesis is available in the VUW library’s research archive from:


Ye, Y., Nakakoji, K., Yamamoto, H., and Kishida, K. (2005). The co-evolution of systems and communities in free and open source software development. In Koch, S., editor, Free/open source software development, pages 59–82. Idea Group, Hershey, PA.

I’d welcome comments on the results here (while comments are open), or by email to me at

October 11th, 2011


My father died last month. At about 4:00 pm on Monday, 27 December, 2010, in the presence of my mother and brother, to be precise. It wasn’t unexpected—Dad was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2010, and my hopes for a miracle from modern medicine weren’t realised.

Since I was advised not to fly because of my own recent surgery (nothing serious, and timed to coincide with the holiday break in New Zealand), I’ve been remembering instead.

Remembering the summer holidays of my childhood, visiting my grandparents and aunt in Burnaby (part of greater Vancouver). We’d drive through the Rockies, camping in one of the many campgrounds along the way, complete with the family cat. When we arrived we would set up the tent in my grandparents’ garden for a week or so. We’d spend the days by the sea (in the early years at English Bay, and later at Lumberman’s Arch, before it was filled in), swimming and having fish and chips for a special treat. I still remember their taste and texture—and I’m sure that part of the pleasure in eating them came from the special location.

Remembering my parents’ visits to New Zealand, where they enjoyed staying at our beach house. We’d spend the weekends there with them, and they were on their own during the week, which worked out well. Since Dad liked to keep busy, they did much of the gardening for us, and uncovered a path we didn’t know we had. We’ve managed to keep it clear of weeds since, so thanks for your efforts, Dad.

Dad’s first brush with mortality came in 1990, when he had a heart attack followed by triple bypass surgery. His strength of character came through in the way he approached his recovery, and in his subsequent determination to stay fit. I liked to describe him as a typical Type A heart attack victim, since in the following 20 years he put as much energy into looking after his heart as he had previously put into his job. Part of his daily routine involved a long walk, and he and Mom became familiar figures to residents of our small beach community as they walked the 4 kilometres to the local cafe and back when they visited, declining all offers of a ride.

Dad was a modest person, and a small ‘c’ conservative. He was happiest in the presence of his family, and led a quiet life. In recent years he enjoyed writing letters to the editor, standing up for the rights of ordinary citizens and tax-payers.

I’ve also been feeling glad that I spent part of my recent sabbatical in Edmonton, so that I saw Dad, and other members of my family, regularly. Despite his illness, he still walked every day, and was usually well on his way by the time I left for my office at the University of Alberta each morning. While there I learned that Dad had developed a late-in-life interest in mathematics, particularly in pi, and how its value is calculated. One of the questions I couldn’t answer was why pi was based on the diameter of a circle, rather than its radius. Since returning to New Zealand, I’ve found out that other people are asking the same question, and came across The Tau Manifesto, so Dad, you weren’t the only one puzzled by pi.

In keeping with Dad’s wishes, he had a private cremation, and there was no funeral. This is my way of saying ‘goodbye’, and thank you for everything.

January 1st, 2011

Thoughts on LCA2010

I spent most of last week at LCA2010. For those of you not familiar with it, LCA is short for, a conference held annually in Australia or New Zealand that focuses on free and open source software, particularly Linux. Because the conference was held in Wellington this year, I decided to go, even though I am not the typical attendee. For a start, I’m the wrong gender (female), and the wrong age (middle), and I certainly don’t identify as a ‘hacker’, at least not any more.

I was initially attracted to the conference because of the three overseas keynote speakers:

  • Gabriella (Biella) Coleman, an anthropology professor from New York University
  • Benjamin Mako Hill, a researcher and student from MIT, who is associated with many free/open source software and open culture projects; and
  • Glyn Moody, a journalist who writes about free and open source software and related issues.

I owned Glyn Moody’s book Rebel Code, and had cited an article by Colman and Hill in the research proposal for my PhD, and I thought  it be very silly to pass up the opportunity to hear what they had to say when they came to Wellington. However, when I looked at the draft conference programme, other sessions caught my eye, particularly the ones to do with building and supporting a project’s community, and the threats software patents pose to FLOSS development. In addition, the miniconfs on Monday and Tuesday covered a number of my interests, including Education, Business of Open Source, and Haecksen and Linuxchix. So I decided to go, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Each of the keynote speeches was very different, but at the same time they all had a common thread: the importance of software freedom and its broader implications for our society. I found that there was plenty to choose from for the rest of the day, and overall I enjoyed the talks I attended very much. I was particularly struck by what appears to be an increasing emphasis on supporting and encouraging members of a project’s community who fall into the ‘user’ category, and I got a strong sense that some members of the the hacker community are starting to acknowledge that there is more to life than coding. However, this is still a conference aimed predominately at hackers, and the Wellington Perl Mongers organised a ‘HackOff’ event (subtitled ‘Coding Just For Fun!’) on the Wednesday evening (see HackOff2010 for more information).

The conference is described as being “run by the community, for the community”, and I definitely got the sense that people who attend lca regularly see themselves as a community. One person I chatted to told me that he planned his year around going to lca, and I can now see why. The people were friendly, and easy to talk to during the breaks, and overall the tone was casual. One thing that I noticed was the lack of any trade exhibits, which meant that people at the conference didn’t feel pressured to ’support the sponsors’ during the breaks, and could instead talk to each other without feeling guilty. The sponsors weren’t overlooked, though; their names were displayed in the main auditorium during the announcements and keynote addresses, and they all had an opportunity to have stands at the Open Day, which attracted a range of people.

As a first-time attendee, I was particularly struck by the strong traditions that have built up since the first conference (initially known as CALU: Conference of Australian Linux Users) was held in Melbourne in 1999. To take just two examples, the conference dinner is known as the ‘Penguin Dinner’, and the conference ends with an ‘open day’ to promote free and open source software to the public. This was also worthwhile, and the stands included representatives from Google,, Wikimedia Australia, the New Zealand Open Source Society, CatalystIT, Moodle, IBM, Canonical (Ubuntu), AmberDMS, RimuHosting, and Digital NZ, to name just a few of the ones that caught my eye. I managed to buy a copy of Geek Prayers, a self-published book by David Merritt, as a memento of the day and conference.

One other bonus was that I was able to meet a number of people I had previously only known through email or Twitter/, including Dave Lane (@lightweight) from Egressive, Lynne Pope (@elpie), and Nic Steenhout (@vavroom), and had some good conversations with them and others. Next year’s lca will be held in Brisbane, and I’m already wondering if I should go.

4 comments January 26th, 2010

Tweaking OpenOffice for NZ English

Last month I bought an HP Mini 5101 netbook computer, and was particularly pleased because I managed to buy it without Windows. It came running SUSE Linux Enterprise Edition (SLED), which I used for the first month while I was waiting for the next release of Ubunutu: Karmic Koala, in particular the Netbook Remix. There was nothing particularly wrong with SLED, but it was a bit too ‘corporate’ in look and feel for me. I also wanted to have the sense of ‘ownership’ that comes from choosing (and installing) my own operating system.

Last week I installed UNR 9.10, and so far I’ve been happy with it. Overall the installation process was fast and smooth, with just one annoyance. I needed to install a proprietary driver for the wireless card, and that didn’t go quite as smoothly as it should have. Fortunately someone else has already documented what to do on the Pass the Source blog: Koala Bites Man (thanks, John).

Most of the time I’ve been writing plain text using gedit (it’s easy to use, came as part of the basic installation, and I’m lazy), but yesterday I decided to try OpenOffice Writer. The first thing I discovered was that the spell checking didn’t work—I’m not sure if I missed a step in the installation process because it was new to me, or if it happens to everyone. This post documents how I fixed it.

The first thing I did was install a New Zealand dictionary. This involved:

  1. using the Extension Manager to download the file (via Tools -> Extension Manager -> Get more extensions online -> Dictionaries),
  2. choosing the New Zealand dictionary and downloading it,
  3. activating the dictionary in the Extensions manager, and finally,
  4. setting the locale to New Zealand (via Tools -> Options -> Language settings -> Languages).

I’m not completely sure if the last step is necessary, but everything is working now, and I’m happy.

November 18th, 2009

Missing the point: It’s time to talk about software freedom

Like many other librarians with a technology focus, I’ve been following the discussions about the Sirsi/Dynix position paper ‘Integrated Library Systems on Open Source Platforms’ with interest. Many other bloggers have identified the main problems with the paper, which is superficial and uses misleading over-generalisations to argue against the adoption of integrated library systems released under a free/libre open source license. Of course, this isn’t particularly surprising given that the author works for Sirsi/Dynix, a company that has been selling proprietary integrated library system software for over 25 years. Members of the code4lib community have done an excellent job of tracking the commentary at SirsiDynix:_Integrated_Library_System_Platforms_on_Open_Source. The high quality of this feedback means that I don’t feel it’s necessary to write yet another point-by-point refutation of the position paper.

However, I do have a perspective that I haven’t seen reflected explicitly in any of the responses, and that’s the view that by talking about open source, people place themselves in a weak position. I have some sympathy with Stephen Abram’s statement that the term ‘open source’ is misunderstood and vague. Although the OSI’s Open Source Definition says that open source doesn’t just mean access to the source code, and specifies ten conditions that are necessary for software distribution to qualify as ‘open source’, it is reasonable to assume that people who hear the phrase ‘open source’ for the first time will think that it only means being able to see the source code. Most of them will not go looking for an official definition, and are likely to continue to be unaware that there is one. To me this is a problem, because using a term whose meaning is unclear leads to confusion, and diverts people into talking about side issues, which is exactly what the Sirsi/Dynix position paper has done.

Does terminology matter when we talk about software in the context of libraries? My answer to this ‘yes’, because the terminology we use says a great deal about our values and the importance we place on them. ‘Freedom’ is a concept that is often associated with libraries. For example, the American Library Association has an Office for Intellectual Freedom and published the first version of their Freedom to Read Statement in 1953; IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations, endorses “the principles of freedom of access to information, ideas and works of imagination and freedom of expression embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in its first core value. Thanks to the work of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, the concept of freedom has been extended to software, and it’s time for librarians to start recognising and promoting software freedom in addition to their more traditional freedoms. We can do this most effectively by using the term ‘free software’, rather than ‘open source’, when talking about software distributed under a license that allows users to view, change, and distribute the source code.

Why should we use the phrase ‘free software’ in order to emphasise software freedom? Because by doing so, we emphasise the benefits we gain from using software that is released under a license that preserves users’ freedom.

When people use software distributed under a free license, they are granted the four essential software freedoms:

Freedom 0, the freedom to run the program for any purpose

Freedom 1, the freedom to study the source code, and modify it to fit their needs better

Freedom 2, the freedom to redistribute copies of the original program

Freedom 3, the freedom to redistribute copies of their modifications

(from The Free Software Definition,

Taken together, these freedoms give software users the ability to be independent (freedoms 0 and 1), the ability to share (freedom 2), and the ability to participate in joint efforts to improve the software (freedom 3). It’s important to note that taking advantage of Freedoms 1 through 3 is optional—many free software users simply enjoy the benefit of Freedom 0, and never concern themselves with the other three freedoms.

However, I should also say that being independent does not prevent users from hiring outside expertise to help them install, learn, or even modify the programs on their behalf. Modern integrated library system software is complex, often consisting of hundreds of thousands of lines of source code, and it is likely that any library implementing a new (to them) system will require help from someone who is already familiar with the software. We are starting to see many examples of companies that get some or even all of their revenue from supporting free software—in the library world, this includes BibLibre, Bywater Solutions, Equinox, and PTFS, to name just a few, so a library interested in a free software ILS doesn’t need to rely completely on its own resources, or those of the community, unless it chooses to.

I can certainly see why people who are only interested in taking advantage of Freedom 0 might wonder why freedom matters. If their relationship with the software is completely passive, and they have no intention of examining the source code, making changes, or distributing it to others, which makes Freedoms 1 through 3 theoretical and irrelevant, does having free software make any difference? The answer is unquestionably ‘yes’; explaining why this is the case will also show why using the term ‘open source’ misses the point.

The best way to illustrate this is to consider phrases that mean the opposite of ‘open source’ and ’software freedom’. To me, and I suspect to most people, ‘closed source’ is the most natural phrase that is opposite to ‘open source’. If software users aren’t interested in access to their software’s source code, will they care if they are using open source or closed source? Probably not—because they will perceive no significant difference between open source software and its closed source counterpart. So using the term ‘open source’ tells people who aren’t interested in source code nothing useful, and it also leads people to evaluate software only on the basis of how well it fits their needs, not on what rights they get from the way it is licensed, and the long-term implications of those rights.

What is the opposite of software freedom? Some people might say software slavery, but I prefer to call it software imprisonment. By choosing to use non-free (or proprietary) software, users become metaphorical prisoners of their software vendor, and a common phrase for this is ‘vendor lock-in’ (which is nicely connected to the notion of imprisonment). This means that the vendor, and only the vendor, has the power to decide what features the software will have, which bugs to fix and which to call ‘features’, when to require users to upgrade to a newer version, and when to discontinue support for a software package. Some vendors may consult their user community when deciding which new features to implement in a new release, or to determine which bugs have the highest priority, but they are under no obligation to do so, and their customers who don’t like their decisions have no alternative but to accept them.

It is also possible for non-free software to have features that only the vendor knows about, and this has the potential to lead to inappropriate surveillance or loss of privacy. Since one component of an ILS is information about library users and their borrowing patterns, as a library user, I expect an iron-clad guarantee that data about me is being handled in accordance with my country’s privacy legislation. If the library can’t examine the source code, or commission someone else to do so on their behalf, how can they be sure this is the case? A report from a neutral third party, who has been able to examine the actual code the system is running, would be the best guarantee that library users’ rights are being protected.

How is free software different from proprietary software? Most importantly, it avoids vendor lock-in because its users have the four freedoms. All free software has a community of developers who are responsible for maintaining and enhancing the code–but in addition, anyone who uses free software has the option of making their own changes (Freedom 1), or commissioning someone else to do it for them (through a combination of freedoms 1 through 3), if they don’t want to rely on the developer community. The important word here is ‘option’: by deciding to use free software people have a choice of support models. In some cases, such as Koha, they also have a choice of support companies, all of whom have experience with the software. This is sometimes seen as a form of insurance, in that users of free software aren’t held hostage by a single company, and if the developer community disperses, another one can form, because the source code is available to all.

Some people argue that choosing proprietary software isn’t a problem as long as library decision makers understand that by licensing it, they are limiting their options for the future. My response is that, by failing to support software freedom, such people imply that imprisonment, in the form of vendor lock-in, is acceptable. Other people say that proprietary and free software should be considered even-handedly when evaluating new software, in order to be ‘objective’. In my view, this over-emphasises software functionality, and does not take into account the long-term implications of being locked-in to a single vendor. I find both of these positions sad and short-sighted, and would like to see more discussion of the benefits of software freedom in our professional literature.

I’m encouraged to note that at least two of the responses to the SirsiDynix position paper describe benefits of their use of ‘open source’ software that result from having software freedom, even though they don’t use the term. Mark Leggott, from the University of Prince Edward Island, describes their ability to combine software from several projects to meet their needs, by choosing the best components and integrating them locally. Cynthia Williamson describes being able to run the new (free software) and old (proprietary) systems alongside each other for an 8-month migration, which is also something that results from having software freedom for the new system and is unlikely to be possible if both systems were proprietary.

I’d like to challenge to the vendors of proprietary ILS software to release their code under a free license, because I see this as a win-win outcome. Their customers will regain their freedom, and at the same time the vendors will have access to a much wider pool of developer expertise (while still being able to control what goes into an official release). Since most libraries will not have staff with the skills to support the systems in-house, there will still be a large market for support, and much of this is still likely to be filled by the existing vendors, who, after all, have the most experience with their software. It may, of course, result in increased competition in the ILS support market, but this is likely to raise standards and result in better systems overall.

There is, however, another, perhaps more important, reason to prefer the term ‘free software’, since it will remind people that freedom is the key issue. Once people are aware of the importance of freedom, in particular the freedom to develop and enhance software on their own terms, their attention will also be drawn to the wide range of threats to this freedom. These include patents on ideas expressed in the form of an algorithm and implemented as software, extensions to copyright law, the use of proprietary file formats like Word (.doc), Excel (.xls), PowerPoint (.ppt), and Flash, and the use of DRM to restrict and monitor people’s use of digital books, articles, recordings, etc. The first clause of LIANZA’s Statement on Access to Information says that “Free circulation of information safeguards our democratic society.” To me this means that librarians have a responsiblity to acknowledge the importance of software and digital freedom, and that members of the profession need to question the limitations that proprietary formats, license agreements, and DRM place on the use of the digital information sources available in libraries much more than they currently do.

To conclude, I’d like to pose some broader questions for members of the library profession. Should libraries purchase ebooks that come with DRM, which limits what the user can do with the information? Should they purchase digital information sources that can only be used on certain types of devices? This is particularly true for digital audio ebooks, but it also applies to other types of information. Why are so few librarians visible in the Free Software Foundations’s campaign against DRM ( How are members of the profession promoting the free circulation of information if they don’t ensure that this is true not only in the print world, but also in the digital one? Finally, if members of the library profession, with its commitment to free access to information, don’t take action to preserve our own and our users’ digital freedoms, who will do it for us? What is the future of libraries if we don’t?

6 comments November 16th, 2009

Progress report (or should that be lack of progress report)

Somehow ten months have gone by since I last posted. It’s been a busy year. I was the LIM Programmes Director until the end of June, and then was busy teaching and organising a national speaking tour for RMS, which finished with him in Christchurch, where he was a keynote speaker at the LIANZA annual conference. I’m really glad I took on the role of RMS tour organiser, but it was pretty intense at times, and definitely interfered with PhD progress.

Nonetheless,I’ve been chipping away at my research, looking at the data I so painfully converted into something usable, and am now on Research and Study Leave until the end of October 2010. It should come as no surprise to anyone that my top priority is getting my results written up as soon as possible, and then moving on to turn the PHD into two (or maybe more) journal articles. Watch this space for more regular updates.

November 16th, 2009

New Year, new deadline

Somehow I never seem to have much to say about my research project, but that’s going to change over the next 6 months. I need to have the thesis finished by June 2009, which means that my priority for the first half of 2009 is going to be analysing the data and writing the thesis.

I was very pleased with the response to the online survey: I received 206 responses, from all over the world! Most of them look usable, and many more individual free/open source projects were represented than I expected, and one of the things I’ll do here is mention some of the ones that were new to me. The range of responses means that the data is more ‘random’ in some ways than I expected, which is probably a good thing. I’ll start summarising my findings here once I start working with the data.

One comment: the open source software I used to gather the data is from an abandoned project, and hindsight now tells me that I shouldn’t have relied on it, even though our systems administrator told me that other people had used it for big surveys. I used it for a shorter survey in 2007, and I thought that I understood its quirks well enough to use it for this one. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true, and I’ve spend the last two days converting the data from its rather idiosyncratic (and verbose) XML output to something I can work with more easily. The biggest challenge was the fact the it only output data for the questions that people had answered, so I had to identify the missing values before loading it into an anlysis tool. This was complicated by the order of the results, which were not sorted by question number, but were instead presented in the order I had defined them. But I have finally gotten the data in the form I want, through a combination of XSLT, a text editor, and a short php program. I’ve done enough double checking to be confident that everything’s there, and correct (whew!).

If I do something on this scale again, I’ll probably use LimeSurvey, which looks good and seems to have a very supportive community.

January 1st, 2009

The short version

This very short entry is just to record the TinyURL for the survey: I plan to print it on some small cards and hand them out at the LIANZA conference if anyone I talk to is a free/open source software user and is interested in completing the survey.

October 20th, 2008

Out in the wild

Yesterday morning I issued the invitation to complete the survey that will gather the bulk of the data for my research. It’s surprisingly hard to stop tweaking and send it out for ‘the world’ to view.

I wouldn’t be surprised to get some feedback about the distribution method: I sent it to a number of project and library-related email discussion lists, rather than collecting email addresses and sending out individual invitations. Is it OK to send a message to (potentially) thousands of people, only a small fraction of whom might be interested in the topic of the survey? Of course, I think that my topic is so important that everyone who gets the invitation should respond, but I realise that’s not the case. So why use a list?

First, I have a problem with large-scale harvesting of email addresses from discussion lists. It seems to me that most people don’t post messages in order to broadcast their email address, and that this type of harvesting is dubious from an ethical perspective.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to offer people who lurk on the lists an opportunity to complete the survey. There is no way of knowing who they are, and I suspect that their contributions will be very important to bring out a perspective that we usually don’t see in the list conversations. Time will tell how successful this will be.

I suppose I should also post the link to the survey here, just in case anyone is reading this and hasn’t received a copy of the invitation. If you use or are otherwise involved with a library/information management free/open source software project, and would like to contribute to research into factors that influence participant satisfaction with the software, you’ll find it at:

The survey will be available until 14 November 2008.

October 17th, 2008

Progress report

I am nearly ready to invite people to complete the online survey for Stage 2 of this project (yay!). I started designing the questionnaire a week ago, had the first draft ready on Monday, and spent the rest of the week asking people from different backgrounds to give me feedback on the questions.

It’s now at the stage where I don’t think it’s possible to make any more changes—if I tweak the questions any more, it will start going downhill. Today I wrote a draft of the invitation email, and completed the Human Ethics Committee application. Assuming all goes well, the invitations should be sent by the end of the week. Then I will have the pleasure of seeing how many responses I get. While I’m waiting, I’ll experiment with the trial data, and set up an analysis template.

I have to confess that it does feel good to be getting somewhere at last. The current approach seems to be working, at least for now.

October 12th, 2008

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