Doing fieldwork in the context of physical distancing?
Need to amend your research plans because of COVID19?
COVID19 created significant challenges for researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences (‘HASS sector’) working with at-risk communities, as well as those who needed to travel to undertake field-based research.
Before we were able to assess the full impact of the issues and restrictions, we started to collate resources that might help modify or adapt methodologies. We surveyed the HASS sector nationally and our institutional colleagues to determine needs and to identify ways forward. Our processes are described more fully in the blog.
Our initial step in dealing with the situation was triage. This list of resources was compiled on the fly, to help academics and research students. It’s not comprehensive. Rather than attempting the impossible task of updating it ad infinitum, it became one of the drivers that motivated the development of this website.
We’ve kept the preliminary list of references as an archive here, however, with acknowledgment and gratitude to the researchers who produced the resources initially. We encourage all researchers to explore these further, particularly @DrAdamJowett, @drvicclarke, and @DALupton, whose work we have included.
RESOURCES WORKING LIST
- LSE Digital Ethnography Collective reference list.
- Methods of data collection that don’t require face-to-face interaction – E.g. Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Gray, D. (Eds.). (2017). Collecting qualitative data: A practical guide to textual, media and virtual techniques. Cambridge University Press.
- Conducting interviews via Skype (or Zoom, FaceTime etc) – E.g. Lo Iacono, V., Symonds, P., & Brown, D. H. (2016). Skype as a tool for qualitative research interviews. Sociological Research Online, 21(2), 1- 15.
- Qualitative surveys – E.g. Jowett, A., & Peel, E. (2017). ‘A question of equality and choice’: same-sex couples’ attitudes towards civil partnership after the introduction of same-sex marriage. Psychology & Sexuality, 8(1-2), 69-80.
- Analysing media representations – E.g. Jowett, A., & Peel, E. (2010). Seismic Cultural Change?”: British media representations of same-sex ‘marriage. In Women’s Studies International Forum, 33(3), 206-214.
- Analysing discourse within the media – (such as commentary pieces and letters to editors). E.g. Jowett, A. (2017). ‘One can hardly call them homophobic’: Denials of antigay prejudice within the same-sex marriage debate. Discourse & Society, 28(3), 281-295.
- Analyzing magazines – E.g. Farvid, P., & Braun, V. (2006). ‘Most of us guys are raring to go anytime, anyplace, anywhere’: Male and female sexuality in Cleo and Cosmo. Sex roles, 55(5-6), 295-310.
- Instant messaging interviews – E.g. Jowett, A., Peel, E., & Shaw, R. (2011). Online interviewing in psychology: Reflections on the process. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 8(4), 354-369.
- Analysing online forums – E.g. Jowett, A. (2015). A case for using online discussion forums in critical psychological research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(3), 287-297.
- Online vignette studies – E.g. Gray, D., Malson, H., & Royall, B. (2017). Hypothetically speaking: Using vignettes as a stand-alone qualitative method.
- Story completion methods – E.g. Clarke, V., Hayfield, N., Moller, N., & Tischner, I. (2017). Once upon a time…: Story completion methods.
- Using Twitter – E.g. Marwick, A. E. (2014). Ethnographic and qualitative research on Twitter. Twitter and society, 109-122.
- Using published autobiographies for examining experiences and narratives – E.g. Bellizzi, K. M., Blank, T. O., & Oakes, C. E. (2006). Social comparison processes in autobiographies of adult cancer survivors. Journal of Health Psychology, 11(5), 777-786.
- Using online qualitative data sources for policy research – E.g. This article, which includes a template for an online data source research protocol.
- Qualitative Social Media Research – E.g. Netnography: The Essential Guide to Qualitative Social Media Research by Kozinets R.V. (2020, 3rd edition). Sage Publications.
- Transcribing screen-capture data – E.g. Meredith, J. (2015). Transcribing screen-capture data: The process of developing a transcription system for multi-modal text-based data. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 19(6), 663-676, DOI:1080/13645579.2015.1082291
- How to move in-person focus group to online – E.g. “Using Zoom Videoconferencing for Qualitative Data Collection: Perceptions and Experiences of Researchers and Participants” = very helpful for rationale & re: Zoom’s security; Archibald, Mandy M. et al (2019), International Journal of Qualitative Methods, vol 18: 1-8.
- Using archived qualitative interviews for secondary analysis
- Guidelines on internet mediated research.
- Documentary analysis can also be a helpful option when needing to work from pre-existing online data. E.g. Doing Excellent Social Research.
- Collecting Qualitative Data – E.g. This book, which is all about methods & data sources that either don’t involve participants or don’t require physical interaction between researchers & participants – like email interviews, online forums, qualitative surveys & story completion.
- Qualitative Research in an Age of Austerity. Talks from a second book launch seminar (on qual surveys, online forums, email interviews, story completion & vignettes.
- Secondary sources, qual surveys, virtual ints, story completion, diaries & vignettes –E.g. Successful Qualitative Research, The link to the book aincludes free to access for anyone online resources – including egs of research materials (participant info sheets etc) for research using these methods and qual survey & story completion datasets.
- Hansard – The official record of the proceedings of the UK parliament is ripe for analysis.
- Online user generated content (forums, blogs, vlogs, comments etc) – still relatively accessible but more ethically complex. In BPS accredited psych programs ethical scrutiny is required 4 student research. This data source is not “fair game” – be guided by the Association of Internet Researchers
- Physically distanced data collection from participants – methods where participants generate textual data (through qual surveys, story completion, diaries, vignettes etc) in response to the researcher’s questions/tasks & various modes of virtual interaction.
- Researching everyday life in a time of pandemic.
- Ravitch, Sharon. “The Best Laid Plans…Qualitative Research Design during COVID-19.” 23 March 2020.
- ‘Innovative Social Research Methods’ Facebook page.
- Taster, 2020, ‘Social science in a time of social distancing’ blogpost.
- Lupton, D. (editor) (2020) Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced document).
- Alexia’s hot tips for online interviewing.
- Listening in Place: A Response to COVID-19 website.
- Oral History Australia.
- Doug Boyd’s blog, Digital Omnium.
- The tech guru at Transom.org, a post-public radio platform in the US, has published a summary of tips and tricks on recording remotely and/or safely.
- Researcher’s experience of researching during COVID19. E.g. Ellis, Carolyn, ‘A Researcher and Survivor of the Holocaust Connect and Make Meaning during the COVID-19 Pandemic’.
- Oral History in an age of Pandemic Discussion Thread. E.g. H-OralHist.
- Oral history modification during pandemic (500 interviewees). E.g. Connecting Voices in a Time of Crisis: NHS at 70 and Covid-19.
Photo by Gaelle Marcel