Interview-Based Field Research for First-Timers

At the request of the beginning PhD students here, I am giving a presentation on interview-based field research this morning. It’s really very sketchy—there is just no way that I can do this topic justice in an hour—but there are some very basic and practical questions that first-timers have about the process. Things like “how do I find people to interview” and “how do I convince them to talk to me” and things like that. I can’t pretend to be an expert, but I have muddled through first-time interview-based field research in two countries, so perhaps my experiences can be helpful.

For interested readers, I typed up answers to their specific questions. You can read them here.

I had literally zero training in how to do field research before I went to the field. I like to think that it’s possible to have a bit more direction than I had. I might have done a better job the first time around. Here are some sources that I wish that I had read:

  • Christopher B. Barrett and Jeffrey W. Cason (eds.) Overseas Research: A Practical Guide. Second edition. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
  • Jaber F. Gubrium, James A. Holstein, Amir B. Marvasti, and Karyn D. McKinney (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft. Second edition. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2012.
  • Chris Blattman’s field work notes:

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  1. Pingback: The “Field” in “Field Research” | Tom Pepinsky

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