Tag Archive | Bailey

(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.

Bailey’s Guide to Qualitative Field Research, Chapters 2-4 [Andrew]

Chapter 2, Ethical Issues in Qualitative Field Research

Example:  Laud Humphreys (1970)

–       Informed Consent

  • “Basic ethical tenet of scientific research on human populations.  Sociologists 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).
  • To obtain consent, research must make potential participants aware of these 11 things, making sure to use language that is understandable:

ü  that they are participating in research

ü  the purpose of the research

ü  the procedures used during the research

ü  the risks and benefits of the research

ü  the voluntary nature of the research participation

ü  their right to stop the research at any time

ü  the procedures used to protect confidentiality

ü  their right to have all their questions answered at any time

ü  other information relevant to the participants

ü  what is required of them if they consent to participate

ü  that refusal to participate or withdraw at any time will lead to no foreseeable consequences (American Sociological Association, 1999, p. 13).

  • However, not quite so cut and dry, either.  The researcher does not have to obtain informed consent if the “research involves no more than minimal risk for research participants” and “the research could not practically be carried out were informed consent to be required” (American Sociological Association, 1999, p. 12).

–       Deception

  • Deception results when people are not told they are participating in a study, are misled about the purpose or details of the research, or are not aware of the correct identity or status of the researcher.
  • Different thoughts about deceptions.  Gans (1962) expressed this view when he wrote, “If the researcher is completely honest with people about his activities, they will try to hide actions and attitudes they consider undesirable, and so will be dishonest. Consequently, the researcher must be dishonest to get honest data” (p. 42).
  • Covert research, which is conducted without those in the setting being aware of the researcher’s dual roles—participant and researcher. If the members in the setting are aware of the dual roles, the research is classified as overt research.
  • The ASA says (about deception), “[S]ociologists do not use deceptive techniques”…“Sociologists never deceive research participants about significant aspects of the research that would affect their willingness to participate, such as physical risks, discomfort, or unpleasant emotional experiences”.  However, deception can be considered ethical if
    • (a) the deception will not harm the participants,
    • (b) the deception is justified by the study’s value,
    • (c) alternative procedures are not possible, and
    • (d) the research has the approval of an Institutional Review Board..
  • If these conditions are met and deception deemed a needed feature of the research design, the code requires that sociologists, “attempt to correct any misconceptions that research participants may have no later than at the conclusion of the research” (American Sociological Association, 1999, p. 14).

–       Confidentiality

  • Research is anonymous when the researcher is not able to identify the participants in the study.
  • Maintaining confidentiality becomes particularly problematic when authorities think the researcher has knowledge that a law has been violated.
  • The code states that you should either (a) not do the research or (b) indicate clearly on the informed consent and discuss thoroughly with participants that if faced with legal threat, you will break confidentiality.

–       Institutional Review Board (review)

Discussion Questions, Chapter 2:

1)    After the entirety of the chapter, could the argument be made that the Laud Humphrey field research was ethical?  Why or why not?

2)    Review the scenario on pages 26 and 27 regarding Van Maanen.  Should Van Maanen have reported the incident or not?  Explain your response, citing the ASA code. 

3)    Regarding one of the projects/dissertation ideas you have in this EDD program, answer the following questions:

  1. a.     Is informed consent required?
  2. b.     If so, who in the setting with receive the informed consent?
  3. c.     What will be included in the informed consent?
  4. d.     Will the research be covert and include the deception to prevent reactivity?
  5. e.     How will the confidentiality of the participants in the setting be protected?


Chapter 3, Prelude to Qualitative Fieldwork

Selection Process:

–       Ethical Issues

  • Questions to ask include if the research can be done without deception, how difficult it might be to maintain confidentiality, what the chances are of getting dirty hands—participating in illegal behavior or behavior against ones own moral standards, what are the chances or someone else getting hurt, and what are the chances of yourself getting hurt?

–       Practicality

  • Time
  • Interpersonal skills

–       Accessibility

  • Range from open to close and fall anywhere in between.
  • If restricted, is there a better setting choice where you already have more access?

–       Familiar versus Unfamiliar

  • Debate continues with whether a familiar or unfamiliar setting is most advantageous.
  • Author encourages researchers to go outside of their own comfort zone.

–       Record Keeping

  • Dependability audit—reviewing records of everything done during the research—is one of the things used to assess the quality of your research.
  • In addition to keeping records of your activities during every stage of the research, you should periodically review your notes to help you plan what to do next.

–       Goals and Research Questions

  • Goals or questions need to be articulated early enough.

–       Review of Literature

  • Aside from what one might already know, make sure to immerse yourself in the relevant literature in preparation for the suitable setting.

–       Final Preparations

  • Be prepared!
  • Be ready with pen/paper, or MULTIPLE recorders/batteries
  • Murphy’s Law appears in the field often…


Discussion Questions, Chapter 3:

4)    How might you use this chapter’s suggestions to best prepare for your own dissertation/field work research?  Specifically, if you only took ONE best piece of advice, what would it be and why?

5)    What are your views on the benefits and costs of physically taking notes (not using a recorder)?  Try to explain using your experience from a previous/current class.


Chapter 4, The Infrastructure of Qualitative Field Research

The field researcher does not proceed through steps one after the other, but instead works on several parts simultaneously.

–       (1) Paradigms

  • A paradigm is “a basic set of beliefs that guide action” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003, p. 245).
  • All paradigms that guide field research have four major, interrelated beliefs about ontology, epistemology, methodology, and axiology.
    • Ontology:  Is there a “Truth” that can be known?
    • Epistemology:  Is what is learned independent of the researcher?
    • Methodology:  How should the research go about finding out about social reality?
    • Axiology:  What is the role of values in the research process?
  • Positivist Paradigm
    • Begins with a theory; on the basis of the results of the data analysis, the researcher decides whether there is empirical support for the hypothesis.
      • Objective reality exists (ontology)
      • What can be learned about the social world exists independently of the researcher (epistemology)
      • Reliability, validity, and generalizability (methodology)
      • Objective and value-free (axiology)
  • Interpretive Paradigm
    • The social world is not an entity in and of itself but is local, temporally and historically situated, fluid, context-specific, and shaped in conjunction with the researcher (Guba & Lincoln, 1994, p.109).
      • No objective social reality but instead multiple realities (ontology)
      • What is learned in research does not exist independently of the researcher (epistemology)
      • Interactions with and observations of participants in the setting (methodology)
      • Rejects the view that value neutrality is essential to the research process (axiology)
  • Critical Paradigm
    • Seeks to empower the people in a setting and to work toward meaningful social change (Neuman, 1991, p. 81).
      • There is no single “reality out there” (ontology)
      • Researcher is not independent from what is researched and that the findings of research are mediated through his or her values (epistemology)
      • Often takes a macro approach to research (methodology)
      • values are important to the research and should be clearly articulated in the work and to the participants (axiology)

–       (2) Theory

  • Theories are important for selecting a topic, creating goals, developing research questions, and collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data.  These develop over time and are chosen in different ways.

–       (3) Tradition of inquiry

  • “Participant observation” and “ethnography” are two common names for field research. Different types of ethnographies include ethnographic case study, critical ethnography, and the more controversial autoethnography (Morse & Richards, 2002).
  • There are many strategies of inquiry for qualitative researchers (case studies, biographies, grounded theory, clinical research, phenomenological research, evaluation research, participatory action research, ethnographies, and scholar activist approaches (Kershaw, 2005).

Handled in future chapters:

–       (4) Methodology

–       (5) Methods

–       (6) Data analysis

–       (7) Final manuscript


Discussion Questions, Chapter 4:

6)    Is it possible to include value judgments in the research process and still conduct unbiased research? Explain your response, possibly using a personal example from your previous/current classes. 

7)    Review the ontological, epistemological, axiological, and methodological assumptions of positivist, interpretive, and/or critical paradigms. Which of these is most consistent with your own beliefs? Explain why.

8)    Aside from your own beliefs, which one yields the most accurate information, in your opinion, and why?