(Bailey) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research. Chapter 9 [Paul]

Bailey, C. A. (2007). A Guide to Qualitative Field Research 2nd Edition.

Chapter 9: Coding, Memoing, and Descriptions

Researchers spend 2 to 5 times more analyzing data than on data collection. Qualitative research takes longer than qualitative research. Regardless of the differences, some qualitative procedures are also used for quantitative analysis.
Quantitative data becomes meaningful once it is organized and run through several statistical procedures. Researchers use SPSS software to run statistical tests including t-tests, ANOVAs, and multiple regressions that are appropriate for hypothesis testing. Determining statistical significance is based on the results of the data analysis process.

Qualitative researchers collect data in the form of words. This type of data is then organized in a way that gives words contextual meaning. The analytical strategies used in the research process are determined by research questions. Qualitative researchers struggle more with data analysis because of the sheer number of research pages to study. Continue reading


(Bailey) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research. Chapters 2-4 [Lisa]

Bailey, C. A. (2007). A Guide to Qualitative Field Research 2nd Edition

Chapter 2, Ethical Issues in Qualitative Field Research

Ethical considerations pervade every aspect of the filed research process.  To guide the ethical difficulties researchers face, professional organizations have established codes to guide the process of making ethical decisions.  There are three major ethical concerns that field researchers face: informed consent, deception, and confidentiality.

In many research contexts, ethical research on human subjects requires informed consent of the participants in the research.  The ASA Code of Ethics discusses this concept in detail.  Researchers “do not involve a human being as a subject in research without the informed consent of the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative.”  (American  Sociological Association, 1999, p. 12).  Moreover, the code states that informed consent is required of research subjects if the “data are collected from research participants through any form of communication, interaction, or intervention” (American  Sociological Association, 1999, p. 12).  Continue reading

(Bailey) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research. Chapters 5 & 6 [Cari]

Bailey, C. A. (2007). A Guide to Qualitative Field Research 2nd Edition

Chapter 5: Methodology

 Key concepts of methodology according to Bailey include sampling, gaining entry, arrival in the field, key actors, maintaining relationships in the field, and triangulation.

  • Sampling: The purpose of probability sampling is to be able to generalize statistical results.  Ethnographers or field researchers use purposeful sampling when selecting interview subjects.
    • Select cases that are information rich.
    • Convenience sampling is the weakest form of sampling.
    • Use “Goldilocks Rule” Too small leads to misleading results and too big makes in-depth analysis difficult.
    • 20 is a good starting point. Continue reading

(Bailey) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research. Intro, Chapter 1 [James]

Bailey, C. A. (2007). A Guide to Qualitative Field Research 2nd Edition

Baily (2007) starts in the preface by stating that it is hard to prepare students for all circumstances that they will encounter while doing fieldwork, and that success sometimes depends on timing or luck. She also states that there are innate characteristics such as “good social skills, an ability to cope with ambiguity, patience, and flexibility” (Bailey, 2007, p. xii) that you can’t learn by reading a book. She continues that the best way to learn fieldwork is to do it.

In order to conduct fieldwork the researcher needs to have a good understanding of the different methods and techniques that are available. Researchers need to have the flexibility to switch methods midstream depending on the circumstances that come up. Also, field research is nonlinear, and researchers need to be able to fluidly move between the different “stages” at any time.

Continue reading

Bailey CH 8

Field Notes Bailey – Chapter 8

BG Cavazos – EDL 507

Field Notes & Leaving the Field

• Detailed descriptions • Paraphrased quotations • Self-reflections • Profound observations

“If you are not writing

field notes, then you

are not conducting

field research”

(p. 113)

• Entries help decide what you want to

study • Repository for important and not-soimportant

data • Help with methodological decisions • “They are at once one thing and

everything” (p.113)

Field Notes

• Will improve with practice • Don’t leave home without

your journal • Scribble notes quickly &

add details later • “Fuller notes” – writing

while someone is talking • “Mental notes” – try to

remember without notes • “Jotted notes” – key

words & important points

6 Types of Content that

will appear in field


1. Detailed descriptions

2. Things previously forgotten

3. Analytic ideas & inferences

4. Personal feelings

5. Things to think about & do

6. Reflexive thoughts

1. Detailed Descriptions of

Observations and Interactions

• Chronological log of dates & times • Concrete, tangible details – “raw

behavior”, no interpretation • Distinguish between witnessing,

interpreting or recounting by others • Detailed accounts of conversations &

informal interviews • Differentiate between verbatim,

paraphrasing and general recall

2. Things Previously Forgotten

• Something insignificant

can become important or

be seen again • Recollections get

integrated into field notes • Include time, date &

context of original

experience • May be added to field


ü Write down personal

interpretations of interactions

* Note patterns

* Theoretical implications

* Potential insights regarding

goals of the study

* Trivial, obvious & far-fetched


The more analysis that occurs,

the easier the project is to

complete (Lofland & Lofland, 1971)

3. Analytic Ideas & Inferences

4. Personal Feelings

• Note your feelings – happy,

frustrated, etc. • Note persons liked, disliked • Note how well an interaction went • Personal feelings are a rich source of

analytical insights • The researcher can use feelings to

better analyze the dynamics of


5. Things to Think About & Do

Write down: • If you need to go back &

collect a missing detail • Ideas to follow up on • Questions to ask • Someone you’d like to talk

to • To do list – review prior to

observations • Incomplete items to do

the next day

ü Definition- the researcher’s active

consideration of his/her place in the


The researcher is “part & parcel of the

setting, context, and culture” (Altheide &

Johnson, 1994, p. 486)

The researcher is:

– an instrument of data collection

– analyzer & interpreter of data

– author of the final product

– unavoidably present & necessary in

the field.

6. Reflexive Thoughts

Guidelines for Writing Field Notes

• Limit interactions & observations to

3-hour blocks • Write field notes ASAP after each

interaction • 13 pages: 1 hour of observation

(Lofland & Lofland) • 1 hour of observation = 3-4 hours of

writing • Type written data every night

Guidelines for Writing Field Notes

• Keep notes organized • Create formal log of changes to

journal • Keep a master copy that isn’t touched • Edit duplicate copies only • Back up files daily on multiple drives • Store hard copies at another location • “What is not written in field notes

will be lost forever

Leaving the Field

• Lack of safety • Lack of time and/or

money • Not learning anything

new • Concern for relationships

formed must be primary • Discuss & plan leaving

with participants • Do what you said • Consider future contact

Bailey CH 11-12

Here is a link to a powerpoint of this text that looks more pleasing to the eye.




Storytelling: Creating stories provides researchers another way to analyze


Conflicting definitions and meanings but Bailey uses the terms

telling a story, narrative analysis and creating a narrative. Also

uses narrative and story as equivalent nouns.

Bailey uses these terms to describe a procedure for crafting the

story from the events in the setting.

Plot: can be quite subtle but revolutionary. Can be action in the smallest

snippet of every day life in a setting just as long as

something transpires, unfolds, occurs, or happens.

Characters: Common goal of field research is to understand a setting from the perspective

of the participants, or characters in the phrasing of creative writing.

Important points:

Know the characters’ appearance and body language, and where they are and

what is around them.

Know the details of characters’ lives-their routine and not so routine behaviors.

Identify inconsistencies and patterns in their talk, appearance and


Examine their speech-not just content but how and when it is said.


Place and time: Essential elements not merely a stage-sometimes there is a

need to reconstruct the story because of lack of chronological


One technique: Flashbacks-withhold one crucial, insightful bit of

information to capture readers’ interest.

Summaries and Scenes: Goal is to put the readers in the setting with members

in “real” time.

Dialogues: emanates from the participants in the setting. Quotations often

richer than paraphrasing.


Point of View: author decides who’s point of few or points of view the story

will be told from. Could be first-person omniscient narrative

approach it depends on the paradigm. For example if you are using a

post-positivist paradigm it might reflect an invisible, objective

narrator, if using the interprative paradigm the author might be

included as a central character comparing perspective with


Themes: What the story is about but is not the plot. In field research there

should be no guessing about why th story was included.

The final story: Should be compelling and provide insight.


Critical events: Moments when things started “spiraling out of

control”, “everything changed after that”, “provide a

window into the larger world”.

Analytic Induction: Two main features: First-development of

conceptual models, including causal ones. Secondemphasizes

the search for negative cases.


Five Steps:

1. Choose phenomena to be explained

2. Propose explanation or model

3. Code data one case at a time to determine consistency with


4. If negative modify hypothesis or model to accommodate new


5. Support and refine conceptual model until universal explanation is


Interpretation: Attempts to answer key questions like why is it important and why

should anyone care


Evaluation Criteria: Qualitative research often challenged on grounds of

validity, reliability and generalizability.

Validity and Trustworthiness: Requires conducting and presnting the research

in a way the reader can believe.

Internal Validity and Credibility: Shown when there is a correspondence

between what is reported and social phenomena being studied.

Requires accurate representation of setting.

External Validity, Generalizability, and Transferability: Determined by reader

One type: naturalistic generalizability



Reliability and Dependability: Reliabillity implies consistency. Questions that

regardless of what they ask elicit the same reponses for interviewees.

Different researchers achieve similar results. To increase reliability

create an audit trail.

Objectivity:, Value Neutrality, and Conformability: Attempt to make sure that

your values, prejudices and beliefs do not influence research. Play the

role of the disinterested Scientist. Use a systematic procedure to

help ensure quality of work.



Member checking: Share with memebers of the setting or colleagues who are

experts .

Peer debriefing and expert review: Possibly committeee memebr of a friend

or experts on research topic.





Reflexivity and objectivity: Researchers must decide to what degree their own

voice will be heard. Know the difference between locating yourself in

the production of knowledge and being completely self-centered.

Participants voice: Original words of participants help stories come alive for

the readers. If edit dialogue be sure to explicitly explain action in

methods section.

Ethics: Using names and locations clearly violates confidentiality if an

agreement has NOT been made. Disguise adequately enough.

Consider long term implications.


1. Bailey suggests you write a one page narrative about somehting that

happened to you as a child and then one paragraph to describe why this

event is important. What does this exercise have to do with the

information presented in this chapter?

2. Bailey states that direct quotes and narrative from participant make the

narrative “richer” do you agree with this? Justify your answer.

3. Who should you have review your research according to Bailey?

4. What techniques should be employed to substantiate that qualitative

research is as valid, reliable and generalizable as quantitative research?


Bailey’s Guide to Qualitative Field Research, Chapters 5-6 [Dena]

The original Powerpoint is at this link: the text from the PP follows:
Bailey’s Guide to Qualitative Field Research, Chapters 5-6 [Dena]

Chapter 5
— Primary purpose of using probability sampling is to be able to
statically generalize the results
— Primarily associated with quantitative work
— Key: purposeful sampling is to select cases for systematic
study that are information rich
— Misconception = field researchers rely on convenience
sampling The OPPOSITE is true—Convenience Sampling is
weak and should be avoided
— Size of sample—use Goldilocks—not too small or large
— Good starting point is 20—keep adding cases until you have at least 5
new cases that fail to add anything new
Gaining Entrée
— Gatekeepers (those who gain or deny access)
— Johnson: progressive series of negotiations rather than a oneshot
— Give explanations to gatekeeper—greatly increases chance of
— You want to understand the setting, not judge
— Be prepared to do it again with “lesser” gatekeepers
Arrival in the Field
— Feeling out of place or having a hard time is to be expected
— However, early interactions are the groundwork for the “real”
Key Actors
— Sometimes one who saves is an insider and may act as a
— Valuable, but at a cost
— They have their own perspectives and agenda that can influence
the way they see, think, and feel.
— Do not take their perspective as a representation of the group as a whole
— May impede rather than help
— May not be well respected and may keep others from giving entrée
Informed Consent
— See Ch. 2
— Gain permission from gatekeepers
— Impossible to inform everyone who enters study setting
— Ex. Van Maanen’s study where resident thought he was a plain clothes
police officer
— Some Institutional Review Boards require you to explain your informed
consent procedures for both the regular participants and also for those
who enter the setting unknowingly
Field Relationships
— Rapport is important, helps you gain info. you might not
otherwise gain.
— Trust is not unidirectional—strive for trusting relationships
— Lays the foundation for productive and satifying working
— Same skills as making friends
q RAPPORT Easier to lose than it is to gain in the first place.
— Use multiple methods for data collection
— Multiple sources
— Collect data from divergent views
— Ie. Housing
— Observe members of residents
— Interview members of residents
— Interview authorizes from HUD
— Analyses HUD documents
Triangulation Continued
— CAUTION against rejection of data due to ID’ed
— Inconsistencies might lead to more insite

(The fourth component of field research)
Chapter 6
Planning Observations
— Observation is a major form of data collection
— Seeing with one’s own eyes—determine what is important
1. Will the observations be overt or covert?
2. Will the researcher be a participant or only an observer?
3. Where and when will observations occur?
4. Will observations be structured or unstructured?
5. What will be observed?
The answers to these questions might change
during the time in the field.
Covert or Overt
— Covert has ethical concerns connected
— Therefore, the reading only focused on overt.
Participating While Observing
— Participate or merely observe, or both
— Participant observer takes part in daily events while
— Observers only as it says!
— The researcher who engages in an ethnographic study in
more likely to participate
— Researchers should make preliminary decisions about role,
without worrying about the label of participant or observer
Structured and Unstructured
— Researcher must decide if observations will be structured,
unstructured or a combo of both
— Structured usually has a guide
— Schedule times
— Sampling procedures
— People and events to be observed
— Focus and location determined
— Important impromptu events are not ignored, by
predetermined targets are concentrated on
— Observations are not haphazard, but flexible
— Still have predetermined focus
— Dynamics in setting may change dramatically
Focus of Observations
— What should be observed?
— 1. Spaces
— 2. Objects
— 3. Actors
— 4. Act
— 5. Activity
— 6. Event
— 7. Time
— 8. Goals
— 9. Feelings
— Some of the previous features may require particpation,
while others require only observation
— Besides what happens, descriptions need to be included—
how things change should be illustrated
— What you see and cannot see (ie temperature) should be
— Use of all senses should be utilized
— The focus may change over time, becoming more selective
— When you enter a setting, physical surrounding should be the
first goal of focus
Physical Surroundings
— Size
— Lighting
— Color
— Sounds
— Objects
— Smells
Nearly all features of a individual is
potentially important
— Age
— Hairstyle
— Gender
— Cultural symbols (any social significance)
What is said through body language
— Behaviors
— Body Language
— Verbal Behaviors
— Speech Patterns
— When the action stops, observations should not stop, take a
moment to notice what isn’t happening. Examples provided:
a study of suburban community, notes who is not working in
their yard on Saturday morning, it is as important as who is.
— Observe the foreground and the background too—like a
good play, the focus and the lighting changes—not watching
the whole picture focuses only on high-status members.
Questions for Consideration
Please respond to two.
1. How would you genuinely answer questions/concerns to gain entrée?
2. If you are going to conduct an observation for our class, will you be an active
participant observer, observer, or combination of both? Why?
3. How could a covert observation be unethical?
4. Explain the procedures you would provide on an IRB to protect unknowing
5. Provide a brief description of a physical environment in which you might
conduct an observation. Remember to use the senses and to describe cultural
symbols and actions not observed that may be important.