Tag Archive | Bailey

Bailey ch 8 (Duncan)

Bailey Chapter 8: Field Notes and Leaving the Field

Field Notes Overview (p. 113):

  • Like keeping a journal/diary that is “teeming with detailed descriptions, paraphrased quotations, self-reflections, and profound thoughts.”
  • You must keep entries organized and type them out every night.
  • “If you are not writing field notes, then you are not conducting field research.”
  • Field notes “serve as repository for the important and no-so-important data of field research.”
  • Act of writing is “creating data.”  Methodological decisions made while writing
  • Common to feel uncertain if doing it “right.”
  • Better field notes, better final project
  • Trust process and keep writing


  • Any small tablet, notebook.
  • Journal should be a field researcher’s constant companion.
  • “In a pinch….anything will do”

Note Taking pg 114

  • Not necessary to hide, but don’t make a big production
  • To keep flow of interview, scribble quick and add more details at inconspicuous moments
  • Fine line as some subjects expect note taking or feel you are not listening/paying attention.
    • Researcher must sense whether subjects are expecting more note taking or listening.
    • Lofland and Lofland (1984)
      • Fuller jottings – writing as much as possible (as in a college class)
      • Mental notes – remembering as much as possible (does not result in level of detail in written notes)
      • Jotted notes – writing key words (must be quickly followed up with full descriptions or usefulness diminishes)

Full Field Notes (per Lofland and Lofland 1984) pg 115

  • Detailed descriptions – of observations and interactions in the field.
    • Descriptions kept in a chronological log – with exact or approximate times
    • Concrete, with tangible details
    • Focus on “raw behavior” – do not explain “why” or make guesses.
    • Be sure to specify that any “feelings” written down are interpretation of observation
    • Detailed accounts of conversations and informal interviews
    • Maintain a system to differentiate notes from verbatim quotes, close paraphrases and general recall
      • Use systems such as double quotes around verbatim, single around paraphrasing, no quotations when captured “gist”
  • Words play an important part in understanding the setting
  • Thin Notes – lack detail
  • Rich Notes – detailed
  • Things previously forgotten, now remembered – may be placed in “day recalled” or “day of event.”
  • Analytic ideas and inferences – write ideas of social meanings, inferences, interpretations of interactions, patterns.  Put all ideas, good bad, uncertain into field notes.  More analysis makes project easier to complete
  • Personal feelings – write personal feelings, people you liked and didn’t, did interaction go well or not? Emotional reactions to people and events affect them and shape interpretation.  Will help with analyzation of data but be sure to label as “personal opinions.”
  • Things to think about and do – start journal each day with “to do list” of people to speak with, missing details to gather, questions to ask.
  • Reflexive Thoughts – overlaps other categories.  Active consideration of his or her place in the research.  Observer is “always unavoidably present and necessary in field research”

Guidelines for writing Field Notes pg 120

  • Limit interactions and observations to three hour blocks
  • Write ASAP after observation
  • Do not conduct two or more observations before writing the first
  • Number of pages of field notes per observation varies.  Suggestion of 13pgs per hour observation
  • Should take as long to write out observation as it did to observe…probably twice as long
  • Always type notes from journal
  • Keep notes organized
  • Do Not trust memory
  • Backup computer files
  • Do not put off completing the field notes

Leaving the Field pg 121

  • While class assignments last days, most field research requires months or years in the field
  • Reasons to leave the field
    • Safety: physical, psychological
    • Participants no longer want you there
    • Lack of money or time
    • Not learning anything new (saturation point).  Evidenced by “things to do” portion of notes grows smaller and smaller
    • Fewer and fewer analytic insights
    • Concern for relationships.
      • Discuss plan to exit with participants and be sure you have done “all you said you would.”

Chapter 2-4 – Bailey (Xmas)

Eugene Christmas

June 29th, 2013

Chapter 2-4 – Bailey – Important Points – Quotes

Chp 2 – General – “Simply stated, field research is the systematic study of ordinary activities in the settings in which they occur. Its primary goal is to understand these activities and what they mean to those who engage in them. To gain this understanding, field researchers collect data by interacting with, listening to, and observing people during the course of their daily lives, usually in some self-contained setting, such as an elementary school classroom, a street corner, a car dealership, or a public housing community.”

“Specific – Field research* is the systematic study, primarily through long-term, faceto-face interactions and observations, of everyday life. A primary goal of field research is to understand daily life from the perspectives of people in a setting or social group of interest to the researcher. Field research is classified as a longitudinal research design because data collection can take a long time—usually months or years.”

“Naturalistic Setting, purpose of research and research questions, unstructured and semi structured interviews, conversational analysis, coding, paradigms, status characteristics or demographics.”

Chp 3 – Informed consent, deception, confidentiality, Code of Ethics, Institutional Review Boards, A guide to qualitative field research…(you should all review the aspects of it)

Chp 4 – Primary seven topics

Paradigms, Theory, Tradition of Inquiry, Methodology, Methods, Data Analysis, and Final Manuscript.

Reflexivity is, in part, critically thinking about how one’s status characteristics,

values, and history, as well as the numerous choices one has made during the research, affect the results. As a result of the reflections, sometimes the researcher takes action, such as asking for assistance with some parts of the research or changing some facet of the research design.

Reviewing Jigsaw Activity – Divide class into four groups to review the topics below (3-4 minutes) to discuss the major points and rank the 3 most important. Each group will then have one person report on the most important points from their group.

Positive Paradigm – page 50

Interpretive Paradigm – page 53

Critical Paradigm – page 55

Role of and What is Theory – page 57

Chapter 9 – Coding, Memoing, and Descriptions (Bailey, 2006)

A Guide to Qualitative Research

Bailey (2006)

Chapter 9 – Coding, Memoing, and Descriptions

Tammara Sherman

EDL 507

Coding, Memoing, and descriptions are components of qualitative data analysis. Actually, the analysis of the data begins from the onset and continues throughout the project. Once the researcher leaves the field, the arduous task of making sense of the data, breaking it down, studying its components, and investigating its importance, and interpreting its meanings begins. According to Lofland and Lofland (1984), this arduous task can take 2 to 5 times longer than the amount time taken to collect the data.  In comparison, quantitative data is analyzed using software, such as SPSS. The researcher performs statistical tests and procedures, such as t-tests, ANOVAs, etc. on the data and then the researcher makes deductions about the data. Whereas in qualitative analysis, the researcher reads pages of text multiple times, grouping and organizing the data throughout the successive reads.  At the conclusion, the researcher interprets the results based on their research questions.

Many strategies for analyzing qualitative data exist. Bailey (2006) covers 10 of these strategies.  In chapter 9, Bailey (2006) focuses on the Coding and Memoing strategies because they are essential to all qualitative data analysis strategies.

A. Coding

Bailey (2006) defines coding as the “process of organizing a large amount of data into smaller segments that, when needed, can be retrieved easily.” She distinguishes coding analysis from thematic analysis in that themes do not emerge from the data. She asserts that the themes appear at the interpretation of the researcher and the associated research questions. She describes two types of coding: initial coding and focused coding.

Initial Coding

  • Initial coding is also known as open coding.
  • During initial coding, the researcher reads and codes the data.
  • Only, the data that is relevant to the study purpose and research questions are coded.
  • An iterative process


Focused Coding

  • Focus coding is also known as axial coding.
  • Typically, it occurs after the initial or open coding.
  • Involves grouping coded text into larger segments which encompasses the smaller segments
  • An iterative process

Strategies for Improving Coding

  • Make connections to “research on the topic, concerns of the researcher’s discipline, or theoretical concepts”
  • Begin the process by being well grounded in the discipline
  • Read the academic literature in the area being studied
  • Discuss the research finding with other people, who are knowledgeable in the area of study or are willing to listen, exercising care not to violate the confidentiality of the study participants


B. Memoing

  • Writing notes to oneself regarding the coding, including reflections on the data
  • Notes could include attempts to operationalize definitions, questions, posing hypotheses, and answers revealed in the data.
  • Facilitates coding at a higher conceptual level
  • Data from this process can be used for subsequent analysis
  • An iterative process

C. Qualitative Analysis Software

Numerous software packages exist that can assist with qualitative analysis. These software packages are tools and do not replace the skill necessary to inform the study or elicit information from the data.  A researcher may choose to use software for many reasons.

Reasons for using software

  1. Taking notes in the field
  2. Transcribing or writing up field notes
  3. Editing
  4. Coding
  5. Storage
  6. Search and retrieval
  7. Linking data
  8. Memoing
  9. Content analysis (counting frequencies, sequencing and locating words or phrases)
  10. Data visualization
  11. Drawing conclusions
  12. Building theory
  13. Creating diagrams
  14. Preparing interim and final reports (p. 134)

Qualitative Software

Atlas.ti, HyperRESEARCH, MAXqda2, NVivo, N6, CDC EZ-text, Qualrus, QDA Miner, and Ethnograph

Manual vs. Software

Some researchers prefer traditional methods for analyzing qualitative data. In this case, these researchers may:

  • Print, cut, and past hard copies of the data and code it with colored pencils or highlighters
  • Use word processing software, such as MS Word, or spreadsheet software, such as MS Excel to code data
  • Use adhesive notes, such as 3M Post-Its, in different  colors to code



  Manual Software
Learning Curve Minimal Depends on the software, can be steep
Cost Minimal Can be costly
Flexibility Limited Medium to High, depending on the features available
Functionality Limited, requires using other mediums or software Medium to High, depending on the features available

D. Descriptions

Descriptions facilitate contextualizing the data. It involves recording detailed descriptions of the setting, interactions, and observations over the duration of the study. They are likened to answering a “reporter’s questions.” As such, the descriptions should answer the 5 W’s (what, why, when, where, and who) and how. Suffice it to say, descriptions need not include every detail, such as every object in the room, but characteristics or qualities that visualize the concept being conveyed. Descriptions can be thick or thin as asserted by Geertz (1973). Additionally, descriptions should relate to the research questions.

Thick Descriptions

Thick descriptions provide concrete detail about a phenomenon or concept. They are a necessity for research in the field. They provide strong visual images for the reader to conceptualize the context or concept. An example of thick description is:

Ana is between 30 and 40. Her brown hair lies limp and greasy against her head.  Her eyes tend not to focus on any one thing. Her skin is riddled with pockmarks suggesting years of drug usage. She scratches her arms or head constantly.  Although the weather is cold, she is wearing a tube-top and shorts. She is shoe-less and her feet are covered with soot and grime.


Thin Descriptions

On the other hand, thin descriptions provide less detail.  For example,

Ana has brown hair and is in her thirties.

Research Questions

The decision to use descriptions should depend on the research questions. Some details may appear “sexy” or exciting but may not inform the study. In such case, those details should be omitted. The purpose of using thick or thin description to facilitate the visualization of the contextual complexity of the subject being studied.


Descriptions help the readers “see the participants and the setting.”  Thick descriptions are an important element of the final report. More importantly, it allows the readers to understand the importance of the concept within the context.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you characterize coding, art or science, and why?
  2. What strategies would you use to improve your coding practices?
  3. How would you use research to inform your coding strategy?
  4. If you were learning how to code qualitative data, how would you begin?
  5. How would you use Memoing to inform your qualitative data analysis?

Key Terms

Term Definition
Axial Coding See focused coding
Coding Organizing data into smaller units that are retrieved easily, when needed
Descriptions Recording detailed descriptions of the setting, interactions, and observations over the duration of the study. Answer 5 W’s and How.
Focused Coding Process of grouping coded text into larger segments which encompasses smaller segments
Initial Coding Process of breaking up pages of text into smaller segments that can be grouped and used in the later stages of analysis
Memoing Writing notes to oneself regarding the coding, including reflections on the data
Open Coding See initial coding
Thick Descriptions Provide concrete details about a phenomenon or concept.
Thin Descriptions Provide detail about a phenomenon or concept with less detail

(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