Mu Fieldwork 23 03 10

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Mary Upton's presentation on field work research

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Mu Fieldwork 23 03 10

  1. 1. Field work with people: Methods conference 23 rd March 2010 Mary Upton Development Policy and Practice [email_address]
  2. 2. Session plan <ul><li>Plan outline </li></ul><ul><li>Student research plans and concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Preparations for field work and the field work process </li></ul><ul><li>Final comments and questions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Aims and objectives <ul><li>To provide </li></ul><ul><li>An overview of the key issues involved </li></ul><ul><li>Time to raise concerns and exchange experiences </li></ul><ul><li>To help researchers to </li></ul><ul><li>Find ways to think about and plan their own field work </li></ul><ul><li>Gain the confidence to do their work in an ethical and enjoyable way </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why field work with people? <ul><li>Can you do this research any other way? </li></ul><ul><li>The research questions - seeking answers through approach and method </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Doing it right’ - ethical procedures and the ongoing process </li></ul><ul><li>The OU Participants and Materials Ethics Committee </li></ul><ul><li>Chair John Oates: http://intranet.open.ac.uk/strategy-unit/offices/ethics/human.shtml </li></ul><ul><li>Local ethics committees </li></ul>
  5. 5. Methodological approaches and methods <ul><li>The approach - ways of constructing the story </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitative/qualitative or both; objective facts/social construction of reality; deductive/inductive or both? </li></ul><ul><li>Rationale: why this choice? </li></ul><ul><li>Methods - the rationale for data collection </li></ul><ul><li>Decisions: feasibility? </li></ul><ul><li>Innovations and ‘brownie points’ </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency and clarity </li></ul>
  6. 6. The role of ethics <ul><li>Ethics and procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Key issues: consent, confidentiality, anonymity and protection of respondents and researchers from harm </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking ethical approval: the OU and beyond </li></ul><ul><li>Respect: being hosted; busy people and the research burden; appropriate dress and behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Questions of power and control </li></ul><ul><li>Respondents’ expectations and ‘giving back’: promises and feedback </li></ul>
  7. 7. Who are you engaging in your research? <ul><li>Study populations and sampling </li></ul><ul><li>Statistical or purposive? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the human, social, organisational, geographical boundaries? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of relationship do you want/need with them and how will you establish it? </li></ul><ul><li>Fit the sample size appropriate to method </li></ul><ul><li>Justify comparisons or groups </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify key characteristics: age, gender, ethnicity … </li></ul>
  8. 8. Contact and access issues - timing <ul><li>Building relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Letters of introduction, emails and phone calls </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing contact: emails, phone calls and texts? </li></ul><ul><li>Post-field work contact? </li></ul><ul><li>Gatekeepers and respondents: taking time; building trust; negotiating access </li></ul>
  9. 9. The procedures <ul><li>Pilot studies and research periods </li></ul><ul><li>Trials and revisions </li></ul><ul><li>Timing and periods of reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Practical issues </li></ul><ul><li>Before you go: visas/permits; risk assessments; insurance; vaccines; budgets; local institutions; business cards; contacts </li></ul><ul><li>Take: maps; insurance certificate; document copies; passport photos; ethical clearance </li></ul>
  10. 10. Data collection and storage <ul><li>Collecting and recording </li></ul><ul><li>Audio, video, maps, drawings, diagrams, photographs, other - feasibility? </li></ul><ul><li>Departmental equipment loans </li></ul><ul><li>Notes and diaries </li></ul><ul><li>Storage </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple copies - memory sticks and hard copies </li></ul><ul><li>Sending home - OU storage systems </li></ul>
  11. 11. Unexpected events <ul><li>Holidays and absences: timing data collection; doing other things </li></ul><ul><li>Non-responses in the field: new directions? </li></ul><ul><li>Political events: as data? </li></ul><ul><li>Missed appointments and latecomers: more data? </li></ul><ul><li>Equipment and power failure: back-up! </li></ul><ul><li>Being over-awed and questions of domination </li></ul><ul><li>Your position in the research: objectivity/subjectivity – balance of professionalism and human response </li></ul>
  12. 12. Coming home <ul><li>Data analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t panic! </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at processes, trends, relationships, patterns, commonalities and differences </li></ul><ul><li>Software: data storage and paper trails </li></ul><ul><li>Discarding data, or laying aside for papers/new research </li></ul><ul><li>Standing back and re-engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Thesis writing </li></ul><ul><li>Rationale for approach and methods; describe, explain; justify innovations; specifics and generalisations? </li></ul>
  13. 13. And finally … <ul><li>With hindsight: internet connections </li></ul><ul><li>Be Confident: finding your own style and rhythm </li></ul><ul><li>Take time out: standing back and relaxing </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoy the experience: fun and/or life changing? </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you </li></ul>

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