Preprint

Field Research: A Graduate Student's Guide

Abstract

What is field research? Is it just for qualitative scholars? Must it be done in a foreign country? How much time in the field is “enough”? A lack of disciplinary consensus on what constitutes “field research” or “fieldwork” has left graduate students in political science underinformed and thus underequipped to leverage site-intensive research to address issues of interest and urgency across the subfields. Uneven training in Ph.D. programs has also left early-career researchers underprepared for the logistics of fieldwork, from developing networks and effective sampling strategies to building respondents’ trust, and related issues of funding, physical safety, mental health, research ethics, and crisis response. Based on the experience of five junior scholars, this paper offers answers to questions that graduate students puzzle over, often without the benefit of others’ “lessons learned.” This practical guide engages theory and praxis, in support of an epistemologically and methodologically pluralistic discipline.
1"
!
!
!
Field&Research:&A&Graduate&Student’s&Guide
*
&
"
"
!!!Ezgi!Irgil
!!!!!Anne-Kathrin!Kreft
!!!!!Myunghee!Lee
§
! !
!
Charmaine!N.!Willis
**
!!!!!Kelebogile!Zvobgo
††
!!
!
!
International*Studies*Review*pre-publication!version!
"
"
"
Abstract"
"
What"is"field"research?"Is"it"just"for"qualitative"scholars?"Must"it"be"done"in"a"foreign"
country?"How"much"time"in"the"field"is"“enough”?"A"lack"of"disciplinary"consensus"on"
what"constitutes"“field"research”"or"“fieldwork”"has"left"graduate"students"in"political"
science"under-informed"and"thus"under-equipped"to"leverage"site-intensive"research"
to"address"issues"of"interest"and"urgency"across"the"subfields."Uneven"training"in"Ph.D."
programs"has" also"left" early-career" researchers" under-prepared"for" the" logistics" of"
fieldwork," from" developing" networks" and" effective" sampling" strategies" to" building"
respondents’" trust," and" related" issues" of" funding," physical" safety," mental" health,"
research"ethics,"and"crisis"response."Based"on"the"experience"of"five"junior"scholars,"
this" paper" offers" answers" to" questions" that" graduate" students" puzzle" over," often"
without"the" benefit"of"others’"“lessons"learned.”"This"practical"guide"engages"theory"
and" praxis," in" support" of" an" epistemologically" and" methodologically" pluralistic"
discipline.
*
!For!helpful!advice!and!feedback!on!earlier!drafts,!we!wish!to!thank!the!editors!and!reviewers!at!International*
Studies* Review,! and! Cassandra! Emmons.! We! are! also! grateful! to! our! interlocuters! in! Argentina,! Canada,!
Colombia,! Germany,! Guatemala,! Japan,! Kenya,! Norway,! the! Philippines,! Sierra! Leone,! South! Korea,! Spain,!
Sweden,!Turkey,!the!United!Kingdom,!and!the!United!States,!without!whom!this!reflection!on!fieldwork!would!
not! have! been! possible.! This! material! is! based! upon! work! supported! by! the! Forskraftstiftelsen! Theodor!
Adelswärds! Minne,! Knut! and! Alice! Wallenberg! Foundation!(KAW! 2013.0178),! National! Science! Foundation!
Graduate! Research! Fellowship! Program!(DGE-1418060),! Southeast! Asia! Research! Group! (Pre-Dissertation!
Fellowship),! University! at! Albany! (Initiatives! for! Women! and! the! Benevolent! Association),! University! of!
Missouri!(John!D.!Bies!International!Travel!Award!Program!and!Kinder!Institute!on!Constitutional!Democracy),!
University!of!Southern!California!(Provost!Fellowship!in!the!Social!Sciences),!Vetenskapsrådet!(Diarienummer!
2019-06298),!Wilhelm!och!Martina!Lundgrens!Vetenskapsfond!(2016-1102;!2018-2272),!and!William!&!Mary!
(Global!Research!Institute!Pre-doctoral!Fellowship).!All!authors!contributed!equally!to!this!manuscript.!
!Department!of!Political!Science,!University!of!Gothenburg,!ezgi.irgil@gu.se.!!
!Department!of!Political!Science,!University!of!Oslo,!a.k.kreft@stv.uio.no.!!
§
!Department!of!Political!Science,!University!of!MissouriColumbia,!m.lee@mail.missouri.edu.!!
**
!Department!of!Political!Science,!University!at!Albany,!State!University!of!New!York,!cwillis@albany.edu.!!
††
!Government!Department,!William!&!Mary,!kzvobgo@wm.edu.!!
"
1"
Introduction!
Days"before"embarking"on"her"first"field"research"trip,"a"Ph.D."student"worries"about"whether"she"will"
be"able"to"collect"the"qualitative"data"that"she"needs"for"her"dissertation."Despite"sending"dozens"of"
emails,"she"has"received" only" a" handful" of"responses"to"her"interview"requests."She"wonders"if"she"
will"be"able"to"gain"more"traction"in-country."Meanwhile,"in"the"midst"of"drafting"her"thesis"proposal,"
an"M.A."student"speculates"about"the"feasibility"of"his"project,"given"a"modest"budget."Thousands"of"
miles" away" from" home," a" postdoc" is" concerned" about" their" safety, " as" protests" erupt" outside" their"
window"and"state"security"forces"descend"into"the"streets.""
These" anecdotes" provide" a" small" glimpse" into" the" concerns" of" early-career" researchers"
undertaking"significant"projects" with" a"field" research" component."Many"of" these" fieldwork-related"
concerns"arise"from"an"unfortunate"shortage"in"curricular"offerings"for"qualitative"and"mixed-method"
research" in" political" science" graduate" programs" (Emmons" and" Moravcsik" 2020),
1
"as" well" as" the"
scarcity" of" instructional" materials" for" qualitative" and" mixed-method" research," relative" to" those"
available"for" quantitative"research"(Elman,"Kapiszewski,"and" Kirilova"2015;"Kapiszewski,"MacLean,"
and" Read" 2014;" Mosley" 2013)." A" recent" survey" among" leading" the" United" States" Political" Science"
programs"in"Comparative" Politics"and" International" Relations" found" that" among" graduate" students"
who" have" carried" out" international" fieldwork," sixty-two" percent" had" not" received" any" formal"
fieldwork"training"and"only"twenty"percent"felt"very"or"mostly"prepared"for"their"fieldwork"(Schwartz"
and" Cronin-Furman" 2020," 7-8)." This" shortfall" in" training" and" instruction" means" that" many" young"
researchers" are" under-prepared" for" the" logistics" of" fieldwork," from" developing" networks" and"
effective" sampling" strategies" to" building" respondents’" trust." In" addition," there" is" a" notable" lack" of"
preparation" around" issues" of" funding," physical" safety," mental" health," research" ethics," and" crisis"
1
!While!Emmons!and!Moravcsik!(2020)!focus!on!leading!Political!Science!Ph.D.!programs!in!the!United!States,!
these!trends!likely!obtain,!both!in!lower-ranked!institutions!in!the!broader!United!States!as!well!as!in!graduate!
education!throughout!North!America!and!Europe.!
"
2"
response."This"is"troubling,"as"field"research" is"highly"valued"and,"in" some"parts"of"the"field," it"is"all"
but"expected,"for"instance"in"comparative"politics.""
Beyond" subfield-specific" expectations," research" that" leverages" multiple" types" of" data" and"
methods,"including" fieldwork,"is"one" of" the"ways" that" scholars" throughout"the" discipline" can" more"
fully"answer"questions"of"interest"and"urgency."Indeed,"multi-method"work,"a"critical"means"by"which"
scholars" can" parse" and" evaluate" causal" pathways," is" on" the" rise" (Weller" and" Barnes" 2016)." The"
growing" appearance" of" multi-method" research" in" leading" journals" and" university" presses" makes"
adequate"training"and"preparation"all"the"more"significant"(Nexon"2019;"Seawright"2016)."
We" are" five" political" scientists" interested" in" providin g" graduate" students" and" other"early-
career"researchers"helpful"resources"for"field"research"that"we"lacked"when"we"first"began"our"work."
Each" of" us" has" recently" completed" or" will" soon" complete" a" Ph.D." at" a" United" States" or" Swedish"
university," though" we" come" from" many" different" national" backgrounds." We" have" conducted" field"
research"in"our"home"countries"and"abroad."From"Colombia"and"Guatemala"to"the"United"States,"from"
Europe"to"Turkey,"and"throughout"East"and"Southeast"Asia,"we"have"spanned"the"globe"to"investigate"
civil" society" activism" and" transitional" justice" in" post-violence" societies," conflict-related" sexual"
violence,"social"movements,"authoritarianism"and"contentious"politics,"and"the"everyday"politics"and"
interactions"between"refugees"and"host-country"citizens.""
While" some" of" us" have" studied" in" departments" that" offer" strong" training" in" field" research"
methods,"most"of" us" have"had"to" self-teach," learning"through"trial"and"error."Some" of" us" have"also"
been" fortunate" to" participate" in" short" courses" and" workshops" hosted" by" universities" such" as" the"
Consortium"for"Qualitative" Research"Methods"and" inter-disciplinary" institutions"such"as"the" Peace"
Research"Institute"Oslo."Recognizing"that"these"opportunities"are"not"available"to"or"feasible"for"all,"
and" hoping" to" ease" the" concerns" of" our" more-junior" colleagues," we" decided" to" compile" our"
experiences"and"recommendations"for"first-time"field"researchers."
"
3"
Our"experiences"in"the"field"differ"in"several"key"respects,"from"the"time"we"spent"in"the"field"
to"the"locations"we"visited,"and"how"we"conducted"our"research."The"diversity"of"our"experiences,"we"
hope,"will" help" us" reach"and" assist" the"broadest" possible" swath"of" graduate" students"interested" in"
field"research."Some"of" us" have" spent" as" little" as" ten" days" in" a" given" country" or" as" much" as" several"
months,"in"some"instances"visiting"a"given"field"site"location"just"once"and"in"other"instances"returning"
several"times."At"times," we" have" been"able"to" plan" weeks" and"months"in"advance." Other" times," we"
have"quickly"arranged"focus"groups"and"impromptu"interviews."Other"times"still,"we"have"completed"
interviews"virtually,"when"research"participants"were"in"remote"locations"or"when"we"ourselves"were"
unable"to"travel,"of"note"during"the"coronavirus"pandemic."We"have"worked"in"countries"where"we"
are"fluent"or"have"professional"proficiency"in"the"language,"and"in"countries"where"we"have"relied"on"
interpreters."We"have"worked"in"settings"with"precarious"security"as"well"as"in"locations"that"feel"as"
comfortable"as"home.""Our"guide"is"not"intended"to"be"prescriptive"or"exhaustive."What"we"offer"is"a"
set"of"experience-based"suggestions"to"be"implemented"as"deemed"relevant"and"appropriate"by"the"
researcher"and"their"advisor(s)."
In"terms"of"the"types"of"research"and"data"sources"and"collection,"we"have"conducted"archival"
research," interviews," focus" groups," and" ethnographies" with" diplomats," bureaucrats," military"
personnel," ex-combatants," civil" society" advocates," survivors" of" political" violence," refugees," and"
ordinary"citizens."We"have"grappled"with"ethical"dilemmas,"chief"among"them"how"to"get"useful"data"
for"our" research"projects" in"ways" that"exceed" the" minimal" standards"of" human" subjects’" research"
evaluation" panels." Relatedly," we" have" contemplated" how" to" use" our" platforms" to" give" back" to"the"
individuals"and"communities"who"have"so"generously"lent"us"their"time"and"knowledge,"and"shared"
with"us"their"personal"and"sometimes"harrowing"stories.""
Our" target" audience" is" first," and" foremost" graduate" students" and" early-career" researchers"
who"are"interested"in"possibly"conducting"fieldwork"but"who"either"(1)"do"not"know"the"full"potential"
or"value"of"fieldwork,"(2)"know" the" potential" and" value" of" fieldwork" but" think" that" it" is" excessively"
"
4"
cost-prohibitive"or"otherwise"infeasible,"or"who"(3)"have"the"interest,"the"will,"and"the"means"but"not"
necessarily"the"know-how."We"also"hope"that"this"resource"will"be"of"value"to"graduate"programs,"as"
they"endeavor"to"better"support"students"interested"in"or"already"conducting"field"research."Further,"
we"target"instructional"faculty"and"graduate"advisors"(and"other"institutional"gatekeepers"like"journal"
and"book"reviewers),"to"show"that"fieldwork"does"not"have"to"be"years-long,"to"give"just"one"example."
Instead,"the"length"of"time"spent"in"the"field"is"a"function"of"the"aims"and"scope"of"a"given"project."We"
also"seek"to"formalize"and"normalize"the"idea"of"remote"field"research,"whether"conducted"because"
of"security"concerns"in"conflict"zones,"for"instance,"or"because"of"health"and"safety"concerns,"like"the"
Covid-19"pandemic."Accordingly,"researchers"in"the"field"for"shorter"stints"or"who"conduct"fieldwork"
remotely"should"not"be"penalized.""
We"note"that"several"excellent"resources"on"fieldwork"such"as"the"bibliography"compiled"by"
Advancing"Conflict"Research"(2020)"catalogue"an"impressive"list"of"articles"addressing"questions"such"
as"ethics,"safety,"mental"health,"reflexivity"and"methods."Further"resources"can"be" found" about" the"
positionality" of" the" researcher" in" the" field" while" engaging" vulnerable" communities," such" as" in"the"
research" field" of" migration"(Carling," Bivand" Erdal," and" Ezzati" 2014;" Jacobsen" and" Landau" 2003;"
Nowicka"and"Cieslik"2014;"Zapata-Barrero"and"Yalaz"2019)."However,"little"has"been"written"beyond"
conflict-affected"contexts,"fragile"settings,"and"vulnerable"communities."Moreover,"as"we"consulted"
different"texts"and"resources,"we"found"no"comprehensive"guide"to"fieldwork"explicitly"written"with"
graduate"students"in"mind."It"is"this"gap"that"we"aim"to"fill.""
In"this"paper,"we"address"five"general"categories"of"questions"that"graduate"students"puzzle"
over,"often"without"the"benefit"of"others’"“lessons"learned.”"First:"What%is%field%research?"Is"it"just"for"
qualitative" scholars?" Must" it" be" conducted" in" a" foreign"country?" How" much" time" in" the" field" is"
“enough”?"Second:"What%is%the%purpose%of%fieldwork?"When"does"it"make"sense"to"travel"to"a"field"site"
to"collect"data?"How"can"fieldwork"data"be"used?"Third:"What%are%the%nuts%and%bolts?"How"does"one"
get" ready" and" how" can" one" optimize" limited" time" and" financial" resources?" Fourth:" How% does% one%
"
5"
conduct% fieldwork% safely?"What" should" a" researcher" do" to" keep" herself," research" assistants," and"
research"subjects"safe?"What"measures"should"he"take"to"protect"his"mental"health?"Fifth:"How%does%
one%conduct%ethical,%beneficent%field%research?"
Finally,"the"Covid-19"pandemic"has"impressed" upon" the" discipline" the" volatility" of" research"
projects" centered" around" in-person" fieldwork." Lockdowns" and" closed" borders" left" researchers"
sequestered"at"home" and" unable"to" travel," forced"others"to" cut" short"any" trips" already"begun,"and"
unexpectedly" confined" others" still" to" their" fieldwork" sites." Other" factors" that" may" necessitate" a"
(spontaneous)" readjustment" of" planned" field" research" include" natural" disasters," a" deteriorating"
security" situation" in" the" field" site," researcher" illness," and" unexpected" changes" in" personal"
circumstances."We,"therefore,"conclude"with"a"section"on"the"promise"and"potential"pitfalls"of"remote"
(or" virtual)" fieldwork." Throughout" this" guide," we" engage" theory" and" praxis" to" support" an"
epistemologically"and"methodologically"pluralistic"discipline.""
"
What!is!Fieldwork?!
The"concept"of"“fieldwork”"is"not"well-defined" in" political" science." While" several" symposia" claim" to"
discuss"the"“nuts"and"bolts”"of"conducting"research"in"the"field"within"the"pages"of" political"science"
journals," few" ever" define" it" (Ortbals" and" Rincker" 2009;" Hsueh," Jensenius," and" Newsome" 2014)."
Defining"the"concept" of"fieldwork"is"important"because"assumptions"about"what"it"is"and"what"it"is"
not" underpin" any" suggestions" for" conducting" it." A" lack" of" disciplinary" consensus" about" what"
constitutes"“fieldwork,”"we"believe,"explains"the"lack"of"a"unified"definition."Below,"we"discuss"three"
areas"of"current"disagreement"about"what"“fieldwork”"is,"including"the"purpose"of"fieldwork,"where"
it"occurs,"and"how"long"it"should"be."We"follow"this"by"offering"our"definition"of"fieldwork.""
First," we" find" that" many" in" the" discipline" view" fieldwork" as" squarely" in" the" domain" of"
qualitative" research," whether" interpretivist" or" positivist." However," field" research" can" also" serve"
quantitative" projects" –" for" example," by" providing" crucial" context," supporting" triangulation," or"
"
6"
illustrating"causal" mechanisms."For" instance,"Kreft" (2019)" elaborated" her" theory" of" women’s" civil"
society"mobilization"in"response"to"conflict-related"sexual"violence"based"on"interviews"she"carried"
out"in"Colombia."She"then"examined"cross-national"patterns"through"statistical"analysis."Conversely,"
Willis’s"research"on"the"United"States"military"in"East"Asia"began"with"quantitative"data"collection"and"
analysis"of"protest"events"before"turning"to"fieldwork"to"understand"why"protests"occurred"in"some"
instances"but" not" others."Researchers" can" also"find" quantifiable" data" in" the"field" that" is" otherwise"
unavailable"to"them"at"home"(Read"2006;"Chambers-Ju"2014;"Jensenius"2014)."Accordingly,"fieldwork"
is"not"in"the"domain"of"any"particular"epistemology"or"methodology"as"its"purpose"is"to"acquire"data"
for"further"information.""
Second,"comparative"politics"and"international"relations"scholars"often"opine"that"fieldwork"
requires" leaving" the" country" in" which" one’s" institution" is" based." Instead," we" propose" that" what"
matters" most" is" the" nature" of" the" research" project," not" the" loc ale." For" instance,"some" of" us" in" the"
international" relations" subfield" have" interviewed" representatives" of" intergovernmental"
organizations" (IGOs)" and" international" non-governmental" organizations" (INGOs)," whose"
headquarters"are"generally"located"in"Global"North"countries."For"someone"pursuing"a"Ph.D."in"the"
United"States"and"writing"on"transnational"advocacy"networks,"interviews"with"INGO"representatives"
in"New"York"certainly"count"as"fieldwork"(Zvobgo"2020)."Similarly,"a"graduate"student"who"returns"
to"her"home"country"to"interview"refugees"and"native"citizens"is"conducting"a"field"study"as"much"as"
a"researcher"for"whom"the"context"is"wholly"foreign."Such"interviews"can"provide"necessary"insights"
and"information"that" would" not" have"been" gained" otherwise" –"one" of" the" key"reasons" researchers"
conduct"fieldwork"in"the"first"place."In"other"instances,"conducting"any"in-person"research"is"simply"
not"possible,"due"to"financial"constraints,"safety"concerns,"or"other"reasons."For"example,"the"Covid-
19"pandemic"has"forced"many"researchers"to"shift"their"face-to-face"research" plans" to" remote" data"
collection,"either"over"the"phone"or"virtually"(Howlett"2021,"2)."For"some"research"projects,"gathering"
data"through"remote"methods"may"yield"the"same"if"not"similar"information"than"in-person"research"
"
7"
(Howlett"2021,"3-4)."As"Howlett"(2021,"11)"notes,"digital"platforms"may"offer"researchers"the"ability"
to"“embed"ourselves"in"other"contexts"from"a"distance”"and"glimpse"into"our"subjects’"lives"in"ways"
similar"to"in-person"research."By"adopting"a"broader"definition"of"fieldwork,"researchers"can"be"more"
flexible"in"getting"access"to"data"sources"and"interacting"with"research"subjects."
Third," there" is" a" tendency," especially" among" comparativists," to" only" count" fieldwork" that"
spans" the" better" part" of"a" year;" even" “surgical" strike”" field" research" entails" one" to" three" months,"
according" to" some" scholars" (Ortbals" and" Rincker" 2009;" Weiss," Hicken," and" Kuhonta" 2017)." The"
emphasis"on"spending" as" much" time"as"possible" in" the" field"is" likely" due" to"ethnographic"research"
traditions,"reflected" in" classics"such" as" James"Scott’s" Weapons%of% the%Weak," which" entail" year-long"
stints"of"research."However,"we"suggest" that" the" appropriate" amount" of" time" in" the" field" should" be"
assessed"on"a"project-by-project"basis."Some"studies"require"the"researcher"to"be"in"the"field"for"long"
periods;" others" do" not." For" example," Willis’s" research" on" the" discourse" around" the" United" States’"
military"presence"in"overseas"host"communities"has"required"months"in"the"field."By"contrast,"Kreft"
only"needed"ten"days"in"New"York"to"carry"out"interviews"with"diplomats"and"United"Nations"staff,"in"
a"context"with"which"she"already"had"some"familiarity"from"a"prior"internship."Likewise,"Zvobgo"spent"
a"couple"of"weeks"in"her"field"research"sites,"conducting"interviews"with"directors"and"managers"of"
prominent" human" rights" non-governmental" organizations." This" population" is" not" so" large" as" to"
require"a"whole"month"or"even"a"few"months."This"has"also"been"the"case"for"Irgil,"as"she"had"spent"
one"month"in"the"field"site"conducting"interviews"with"ordinary"citizens."The"goal"of"the"project"was"
to"acquire"information"on"citizens’"perceptions"of"refugees."As"we"discuss"in"the"next"section,"when"
deciding"how"long"to"spend"in"the"field,"scholars"must"consider"the"information"their"project"requires"
and"consider"the"practicalities"of"fieldwork,"notably"cost."
Thus," we" highlight" three" essential" points" in" fieldwork" and" offer" a" definition" accordingly:"
fieldwork"involves"acquiring"information,"using"any"set"of"appropriate"data"collection"techniques,"for"
qualitative,"quantitative,"or"experimental"analysis"through"embedded"research"whose" location" and"
"
8"
duration" is" dependent" on" the" project." We" argue" that" adopting" such" a" definition" of" “fieldwork”" is"
necessary"to"include" the" multitude"of"forms" fieldwork" can"take,"including" remote" methods,"whose"
value"and"challenges"the"Covid-19"pandemic"has"impressed"upon"the"discipline.""
"
Purpose!of!Fieldwork!!
When"does"a"researcher"need"to"conduct"fieldwork?"Fieldwork"can"be"effective"for"(1)"data"collection,"
(2)"theory"building,"and"(3)"theory"testing."First,"when"a"researcher"is"interested"in"a"research"topic,"
yet"they"could"not"find"an"available"and/or"reliable"data"source"for"the"topic,"fieldwork"could"provide"
the" researcher" with" plenty" of" options." Some" research" agendas" can" require" researchers" to" visit"
archives"to"review"historical"documents."For"example," Greitens" (2016)" visited" national" archives"in"
the"Philippines,"South" Korea," Taiwan," and" the"United"States"to"find"historical"documents"about"the"
development"of"coercive"institutions"in"past"authoritarian"governments"for" her"book,"Dictators%and%
Their% Secret% Police." Also," newly" declassified" archival" documents" can" open" new" possibilities" for"
researchers"to"examine"restricted"topics."To"illustrate,"thanks"to"the"newly"released"archival"records"
of" the" Chinese" Communist" Party’s" communications," and" exchange" of" visits" with" the" European"
communist"world,"Sarotte"(2012)"was"able"to"study"the"Party’s"decision"to"crack"down"on"Tiananmen"
protesters,"which"had"previously"been"deemed"as"an"unstudiable"topic"due"to"the"limited"data.""
Other" research" agendas" can" require" researchers" to" conduct" (semi-structured)" in-depth"
interviews"to"understand"human"behavior"or"a"situation"more"closely,"e.g.,"by"revealing"the"meanings"
of" concepts" for" people" and" showing" how" people" perceive" the" world." For" example," O’Brien" and" Li"
(2005)"conducted"in-depth"interviews"with" activists," elites,"and"villagers" to" understand"how"these"
actors" interact" with" each" other" and" what" are" the" outcomes" of" the" interaction" in" contentious"
movements"in"rural"China."Through"research,"they"revealed"that"protests"have"deeply"influenced"all"
these"actors’"minds,"a"fact"not"directly"observable"without"in-depth"interviews.""
"
9"
Finally," data" collection" through" fieldwork" should" not" be" confined" to" qualitative" data"
(Jensenius"2014)."While"some"quantitative"datasets"can"be"easily"compiled"or"accessed"through"use"
of"the"internet"or"contact"with"data-collection"agencies,"other"datasets"can"only"be"built"or"obtained"
through"relationships"with"“gatekeepers”"such"as"government"officials,"and"thus"require"researchers"
to"visit"the"field"(Jensenius"2014)." Researchers" can" even"collect"their"own"quantitative"datasets"by"
launching" surveys" or" quantifying" data" contained" in" archives." In" a" nutshell," fieldwork" will" allow"
researchers"to"use"different"techniques"to"collect"and"access"original/primary"data"sources,"whether"
these"are"qualitative,"quantitative"or"experimental"in"nature,"and"regardless"of"the"intended"method"
of"analysis.
2
"
But"fieldwork"is"not"just"for"data"collection"as"such." Researchers" can" accomplish" two" other"
fundamental"elements"of"the"research"process:"theory"building"and"theory"testing."When"a"researcher"
finds"a"case"where"existing"theories"about"a"phenomenon"do"not"provide"plausible"explanations,"they"
can" build" a" theory" through" fieldwork" (Geddes" 2003)." Lee’s" experience" provides" a" good" example."
When" studying" the" rise" of" a" protest" movement" in" South" Korea" for" her" dissertation," Lee" applied"
commonly" discussed" social" movement" theories," grievances," political" opportunity," resource"
mobilization,"and"repression,"to"explain"the"movement’s"eruption"and"found"that" these" theories" do"
not"offer"a"convincing"explanation"for"the"protest" movement." She" then" moved" on" to"fieldwork"and"
conducted" interviews" with" the" movement" participants" to" understand" their" motivations." Finally,"
through"those" interviews,"she"offered"an"alternative"theory"that"the"protest"participants’"collective"
identity"shaped" during" the" authoritarian"past" played" a" unifying"factor" and"eventually" led"them" to"
participate"in" the" movement." Her" example"shows" that" theorization" can" take" place" through"careful"
review"and"rigorous"inference"during"fieldwork.""
2
!As!all!the!authors!have!carried!out!qualitative!fieldwork,!this!is!the!primary!focus!of!this!guide.!This!does!not,!
however,!mean!that!we!exclude!quantitative!or!experimental!data!collection!from!our!definition!of!fieldwork.!
"
10"
Moreover," researchers" can" test" their" theory" through" fieldwork." Quantitative" obse rvational"
data" has" limitations" in" revealing" causal" mechanisms" (Esarey" 2017)." Therefore," many" political"
scientists" turn" their" attention" to" conducting" field" experiments" or" lab-in-the-field" experiments" to"
reveal" causality" (Beath," Christia," and" Enikolopov" 2013;" Druckman" et" al." 2006;" Finseraas" and"
Kotsadam"2017),"or"to"leveraging"in-depth"insights"or"historical"records"gained"through"qualitative"
or" archival" research" in" process-tracing" (Collier" 2011;" Ricks" and" Liu" 2018)." Surveys" and" survey"
experiments"may" also" be"useful" tools" to"substantiate" a"theoretical" story" or"test" a" theory" (Marston"
2020)."Of"course,"for"most"Ph.D."students,"especially"those"not"affiliated"with"more"extensive"research"
projects,"some"of"these"options"will"be"financially"prohibitive.""
"
Logistics!!
A"central"concern"for"graduate"students," especially" those" working"with"a"small"budget" and" limited"
time,"is"optimizing"time"in"the"field"and"integrating"remote"work."We"offer"three"pieces"of"advice:"have"
a"plan,"build"in"flexibility,"and"be"strategic,"focusing"on"collecting"data"that"are"unavailable"at"home."
We"also"discuss"working"with"local"translators"or"research"assistants."Before"we"turn"to"these"more"
practical"issues"arising"during"fieldwork,"we"address"a"no"less"important"issue:"funding."
%
Funding'
The"challenge"of"securing"funds"is"often"overlooked"in"discussions"of"what"constitutes"field"research."
Months-"or"years-long"in-person"research"can"be"cost-prohibitive,"something"academic"gatekeepers"
must"consider"when"evaluating"“what"counts”"and"“what"is"enough.”"Unlike"their"predecessors,"many"
graduate" students" today" have" a" significant" amount" of" debt" and" little" savings.
3
"Additionally," if"
3
!There!is!great!variation!in!graduate!students’!financial!situations,!even!in!the!Global!North.!For!example,!while!
higher!education!is!tax-funded!in!most!countries!in!Europe!and! Ph.D.! students! in! countries! such!as!Sweden,!
Norway,! Denmark,! the! Netherlands,! and! Switzerland! receive! a! comparatively! generous! full-time! salary,!
healthcare!and!contributions!to!pension!schemes,!Ph.D.!programs!in!other!contexts!like!the!United!States!and!
"
11"
researchers"are"not"able"to"procure"funding,"they"have"to"pay"out"of"pocket"and"possibly"take"on"more"
debt."Not"only"is"in-person"fieldwork"costly,"but"researchers"may"also"have"to"forego"working"while"
they"are"in"the"field,"making"long"stretches"in"the"field"infeasible"for"some.""
"For"researchers" whose" fieldwork" involves" travelling" to"another"location,"procuring"funding"
via"grants,"fellowships,"or"other"sources"is"a"necessity,"regardless"of"how"long"one"plans"to"be"in"the"
field."A"good"mantra"for"applying"for"research"funding"is"“apply"early"and"often”"(Kelsky"2015,"110)."
Funding" applications" take" a" considerable" amount" of" time" to" prepare," from" writing" research"
statements" to" requesting" letters" of" recommendation." Even" adapting" one’s" materials" for" different"
applications" takes" time." Not" only"is" the" application" process" itself" time-consuming," but" the" time"
between"applying"for"and"receiving"funds,"if"successful,"can"be"quite"long,"from"several"months"to"a"
year." For" example," after" defending" her" prospectus" in" May" 2019," Willis" began" applying" to" funding"
sources"for" her"dissertation,"all"of"which"had"deadlines"between" June"and"September."She"received"
notifications"between"November"and"January;"however,"funds"from"her"successful"applications"were"
not"available"until"March" and" April," almost"a"year"later.
4
"Accordingly,"we"recommend" applying" for"
funding"as"early"as"possible;"this"not"only"increases"one’s"chances"of"hitting"the"ground"running"in"the"
field,"but"the"application"process"can"also"help"clarify"the"goals"and"parameters"of"one’s"research."
"Graduate"students"should"also"apply"often"for"funding"opportunities."There"are"different"types"
of" funding" for" fieldwork:" some" are" larger," more" competitive" grants" such" as" the" National" Science"
Foundation"Political"Science" Doctoral"Dissertation"Improvement"Grant"in"the"United" States,"others,"
the!United!Kingdom!have!(high)!enrollment!fees!and!rely!on!scholarships,!stipends!or!departmental!duties!like!
teaching!to!(partially)!offset!these,!while!again!others,!such!as!Germany,!are!commonly!financed!by!part-time!
(50%)!employment! at! the! university! with! tasks! substantively! unrelated! to! the! dissertation.! These! different!
preconditions!leave! many!Ph.D.!students!struggling!financially! and!even!incurring!debt,! while!others!are!in! a!
more! comfortable! financial! pos ition.! Likewise,! Ph.D.! programs! around! the! glob e! differ! in! structure,! such! as!
required!coursework,!duration!and!supervision!relationships.!Naturally,!all!of!these!factors!have!a!bearing!on!
the! extent! to! which! fieldwork! is! feasible.! We! acknowledge! unequal! preconditions! across! institutions! and!
contexts,! and! trust! that! those! Ph.D.! students! interested! in! pursuing! fieldwork! are! best! able! to! assess! the!
structural!and!institutional!context!in!which!they!operate!and!what!this!implies!for!how,!when!and!how!long!to!
carry!out!fieldwork.!
4
!In!our!experience,!this!is!not!only!the!general!cycle!for!graduate!students!in!North!America,!but!also!in!Europe!
and!likely!elsewhere.!
"
12"
including"sources"through"one’s"own"institution,"are"smaller."Some"countries,"like"Sweden,"boast"a"
plethora" of" smaller" funding" agencies" that" disburse" grants" of" 20,000" –" 30,0000" Swedish" Kronor"
(approx." 2,500" –" 3,500" U.S." Dollars)" to" Ph.D." students" in" the" social" sciences." Listings" of" potential"
funding" sources" are" often" found" on" various" websites" including" those" belonging" to" universities,"
professional" organizations" (such" as" the" American" Political" Science" Association" [APSA]" or" the"
European" Consortium" for" Political" Research" [ECPR])," and" governmental" institutions" dealing" with"
foreign"affairs."Once"you"have"identified"fellowships"and"grants"for"which"you"and"your"project"are"a"
good" match," we" highly" recommend" soliciting" information" and" advice" from" colleagues" who" have"
successfully"applied"for"them."This"can"include"asking"them"to"share"their"applications"with"you,"and"
if"possible,"to"have"them,"another"colleague"or"set"of"colleagues"read"through"your"project"description"
and"research"plan"(especially"for"bigger"awards)"to"ensure"that"you"have"made"the"best"possible"case"
for"why"you"should"be"selected."While"both"large" and"small"pots"of" funding"are"worth"applying"for,"
many"researchers"end"up"funding"their"fieldwork"through"several"small" grants" or"fellowships."One"
small" award" may" not" be" sufficient" to" fund" the" entirety" of" one’s" fieldwork," but" several" may." For"
example,"Willis’s"fieldwork"in"Japan"and"South"Korea"was"supported"through"fellowships"within"each"
country."Similarly,"Irgil"was"able"to"conduct"her"fieldwork"abroad"through"two"different"and"relatively"
smaller"grants"by"applying"to"them"each"year."
Of"course," situations"vary" in" different" countries" with" respect" to" what" kinds" of" grants" from"
what"kinds"of" funders" are" available." An" essential"part" of"preparing"for"fieldwork"is"researching"the"
funding"landscape"well"in"advance,"even"as"early"as"the"start"of"the"Ph.D."We"encourage"first-time"field"
researchers"to"be"aware"that"universities"and"departments"may"themselves"not"be"aware"of"the"full"
range" of" possible" funds" available," so" it" is" always" a" good" idea" to" do" your" own" research" and" watch"
research-related" social" media" channels."The" amount" of" funding" needed" thereby" depends" on" the"
nature"of"one’s"project"and"how"long"one"intends"to"be"in"the"field."As"we"elaborate"in"the"next"section,"
scholars"should"think"carefully"about"their"project"goals,"the"data"required"to"meet"those"goals,"and"
"
13"
the"requisite"time"to"attain"them."For"some"projects,"even"a"couple"of"weeks"in"the"field"is"sufficient"
to"get"the"needed"information."
"
Preparing'to'Enter'“the'field”'
To"begin,"it"is"important"to" prepare"for"the"field"as"much"as"possible."What"kind"of"preparations"do"
researchers"need?"For"someone"conducting"interviews"with"NGO"representatives,"this"might"involve"
identifying" the" largest" possible" pool" of" potential" respondents," securing" their" contact" information,"
sending"them"study"invitation"letters,"finding"a"mutually"agreeable"time"to"meet,"and"pulling"together"
short"biographies"for"each"interviewee"in"order"to"use"your"time"together"most"effectively."If"you"plan"
to"travel"to" conduct" interviews,"you"should" reach" out" to"potential" respondents" roughly" four"to" six"
weeks"prior"to"your"arrival."For"individuals"who"do"not"respond,"you"can"follow"up"one"to"two"weeks"
before"you"arrive"and,"if"needed,"once"more"when"you"are"there."This"is"still"no"guarantee"for"success,"
of"course."For"Kreft,"contacting"potential"interviewees"in"Colombia"initially"proved"more"challenging"
than"anticipated,"as"many"of"the"people"she"targeted"did"not"respond"to"her"emails."It"turned"out"that"
many"Colombians"have"a"preference"for"communicating"via"phone"or,"in"particular,"WhatsApp."Some"
of"those"who"responded"to"her"emails"sent"in"advance"of"her"field"trip"asked"her"to"simply"be"in"touch"
once" she" was" in" the" country," to" set" up" appointments" on" short" notice." This" made" planning" and"
arranging" her" interview" schedule" more" complicated." Therefore," a" general" piece" of" advice" is" to"
research"your"target"population’s"preferred"communication"channels"and"mediums"in"the"field"site"if"
email"requests"yield"no"or"few"responses.""
In"general,"we"note"for"the"reader"that"contacting"potential"research"participants"should"come"
after"one"has" designed"an"interview"questionnaire"(plus" an"informed"consent"protocol)"and"sought"
and"received,"where" applicable," approval"from" institutional" review" boards"or" other" ethical" review"
procedures"in"place"(both"at"one’s"home"institution/"in"the"country"of"the"home"institution"as"well"as"
in"the"country"where"one"plans"to"conduct"research"if"travelling"abroad)."The"most"obvious"advantage"
"
14"
of" having" the" interview" questionnaire" in" place" and" having" secured" all" necessary" institutional"
approvals"before"you" start" contacting"potential"interviewees" is" that"you"have" a" clearer"idea"of" the"
universe"of"individuals"you"would"like"to"interview,"and"for"what"purpose."Therefore,"it"is"better"to"
start"sooner"rather"than"later"and"be"mindful"of"“high-seasons,”"when"institutional"and"ethical"review"
boards"are"receiving," processing," and" making"decisions" on" numerous" proposals."It"may" take" a"few"
months"for"them"to"issue"approvals.""
On"the"subject"of"ethics"and"review"panels,"we"encourage"you"to"consider"talking"openly"and"
honestly"with"your"supervisors"and/or"funders"about"the"situations"where"a"written"consent"form"
may" not" be"suitable" and" might" need" to" be" replaced" with" “verbal" consent.”" For" instance," doing"
fieldwork" in" politically" unstable" contexts," highly" scrutinized" environments," or" vulnerable"
communities,"like"refugees,"might"create"obstacles"for"the"interviewees"as"well"as"the"researcher."The"
literature" discusses" the" dilemma" in" offering" the" interviewees" anonymity" and" requesting" signed"
written" consent" in" addition" to" the" emphasis" on" total" confidentiality" (Jacobsen" and" Landau" 2003;"
Mackenzie," McDowell," and" Pittaway"2007;" Saunders," Kitzinger," and" Kitzinger" 2015)." Therefore," in"
those" situations," the" researcher" might" need" to" take" the" initiative" on" how" to" act" while" doing" the"
interviews"as"rigorously"as"possible."In"her"fieldwork,"Irgil"faced"this"situation"as"the"political"context"
of"Turkey"did"not"guarantee"that"there"would"not"be"any"adverse"consequences"for"interviewees"on"
both"sides"of"her"story:"citizens"of"Turkey"and"Syrian"refugees."Consequently,"she"took"hand-written"
notes" and" asked" interviewees" for" their" verbal" consent" in" a"safe" interview" atmosphere." This" is"
something"respondents"greatly"appreciated"(Irgil"2020)."
Ethical"considerations,"of"course,"also"affect"the"research"design"itself,"with"ramifications"for"
fieldwork." When" Kreft" began" developing" her" Ph.D." proposal" to" study"women’s" political" and" civil"
society" mobilization" in" response" to" conflict-related" sexual" violence," she" initially" aimed" to" recruit"
interviewees"from"the"universe"of"victims"of"this"violence,"to"examine"variation"among"those"who"did"
and"those"who"did"not"mobilize"politically."As"a"result"of"deeper"engagement"with"the"literature"on"
"
15"
researching" conflict-related" sexual" violence," conversations" with" senior" colleagues" who" had"
interviewed"victims,"and"critical"self-reflection"of"her"status"as"a"researcher"(with"no"background"in"
psychology"or"social" work)," she" decided"to" change" focus" and"shift" towards" representatives" of"civil"
society" organizations" and" victims’" associations." This" constituted" a" major" reconfiguration" of" her"
research"design," from"one"geared"towards"identifying"the"factors"that"drive"mobilization"of"victims"
towards"using"insights"from"interviews"to"understand"better"how"those"mobilize"perceive"and"“make"
sense”" of" conflict-related" sexual" violence." Needless" to" say," this" required" alterations" to" research"
strategies" and" interview" guides," including" reassessing" her" planned" fieldwork." Kreft’s" primary"
consideration" was" not" to" cause" harm" to" her" research" participants," particularly" in" the" form" of" re-
traumatization."She"opted"to"speak"only"with"those"women"who"on"account"of"their"work"are"used"to"
speaking"about"conflict-related"sexual" violence." In"no"instance"did" she" inquire" about"interviewees’"
personal"experiences"with"sexual"violence,"although"several"brought"this"up"on"their"own"during"the"
interviews."
Finally," if" you" are" conducting" research" in" another" country" where" you" have" less-than-
professional" fluency" in" the" language," pre-fieldwork" planning" should" include" hiring" a" translator" or"
research"assistant,"for"example,"through"an"online"hiring"platform"like"Upwork,"or"a"local"university."
Your" national" embassy" or" consulate" is" another" option;" many" diplomatic" offices" have" lists" of"
individuals"who"they"have"previously"contracted." More" generally," establishing" contact"with"a"local"
university"can" be" beneficial,"either" in" the"form" of" a"visiting" researcher" arrangement," which"grants"
access"to"research"groups"and"facilities"like"libraries"or"informally"contacting"individual"researchers."
The" latter" may" have" valuable" insights" into" the" local" context," contacts" to" potential" research"
participants,"and"they"may"even"be"able"to"recommend"translators"or"research"assistants."Kreft,"for"
example,"hired"local"research"assistants"recommended"by"researchers"at"a"Bogotá-based"university"
and" remunerated" them" equivalent" to" the" salary" they" would" have" received" as" graduate" research"
assistants"at" the"university,"while"also"covering" necessary"travel"expenses."Irgil,"on" the"other"hand,"
"
16"
established"contacts"with"native"citizens"and" Syrian" gatekeepers," who" are" shop"owners"in"the"area"
where" she" conducted" her" research"because" she" had" the" opportunity" to" visit" the" fieldwork" site"
multiple"times."
Depending"on"the"research"agenda,"researchers"may"visit"national"archives,"local"government"
offices,"etc."Before"visiting,"researchers"should"contact"these" facilities" and" make" sure" the"materials"
that" they" need" are" accessible." For" example," Lee" visited" the" Ronald" Reagan" Presidential" Library"
Archives"to"find"the"United"States’"strategic"evaluations"on"South"Korea’s"dictator"in"the"1980s."Before"
her" visit," she" contacted" librarians" in" the" archives," telling" them" her" visit" plans" and" her" research"
purpose."Librarians"made"suggestions"on" which"categories"she"should"start"to"review"based"on"her"
research"goal,"and"thus"she"was"able"to"make"a"list"of"categories"of"the"materials"she"needed,"saving"
her"a"lot"of"her"time."
Accessibility" of" and" access" to" certain" facilities/libraries" can" differ" depending" on"
locations/countries"and"types" of" facilities." Facilities" in" authoritarian" countries" might" not" be" easily"
accessible"to"foreign"researchers."Within"democratic"countries," some" facilities"are"more"restrictive"
than" others." Situations" like" the" pandemic" or" national" holidays" can" also" restrict" accessibility."
Therefore," researchers" are" well-advised" to" do" preliminary" research" on" whether" a" certain" facility"
opens"during"the"time"they"visit"and"is"accessible"to"researchers"regardless"of"their"citizenship"status."
Moreover," researchers" must" contact" the" staff" of" facilities" to" know" whether" identity " verification" is"
needed"and"if"so,"what"kind"of"documents"(photo"I.D."or"passport"etc.)""should"be"exhibited.""
%
Adapting'to'the'reality'of'the'field!
Researchers"need"to"be"flexible"because"you"may"meet"people"you"did"not"make"appointments"with,"
come"across"opportunities"you"did"not"expect,"or"stumble"upon"new"ideas"about"collecting"data"in"the"
field."These"happenings"will"enrich"your"field"experience"and"will"ultimately"be"beneficial"for"your"
research."Similarly,"researchers"should"not"be"discouraged"by"interviews"that"do"not"go"according"to"
"
17"
plan;"they"present"an"opportunity"to"pursue"relevant"people"who"can"provide"an"alternative"path"to"
your"work."Note"that"planning"ahead"does"not"preclude"fortuitous"encounters"or"epiphanies."Rather,"
it"provides"a"structure"for"them"to"happen.""
If"your"fieldwork"entails"travelling"abroad,"you"will"also"be"able"to"recruit"more"interviewees"
once"you"arrive"at"your"research"site."In"fact,"you"may"have"greater"success"in-country,"not"everyone"
is" willing" to" respond" to" a" cold" email" from" an" unknown" researcher" in" a" foreign" country." In" Irgil’s"
fieldwork,"she"contacted"store"owners"that"are"known"in"the"area"and"who"know"the"community."This"
eased"her"process"of"introduction"into"the"community"and"recruiting"interviewees."For"Zvobgo,"she"
had"fewer"than"a"dozen"interviews"scheduled"when"she"travelled"to"Guatemala"to"study"civil"society"
activism" and" transitional" justice" since" the" internal" armed" conflict." But" she" was" able" to" recruit"
additional" participants" in-country." Interviewees" with" whom" she" built" a" rapport" connected" her" to"
other"NGOs,"government"offices,"and"the"United"Nations"country"office,"sometimes"even"making"the"
call"and"scheduling"interviews"for"her."Through"snowball"sampling,"she"was"able"to"triple"the"number"
of"participants."Likewise,"snowball"sampling"was"central"to"Kreft’s"recruitment"of"interview"partners."
Several"of"her"interviewees"connected"her"to"highly"relevant"individuals"she"would"never"have"been"
able"to"identify"and"contact"based"on"web"searches"alone."
While"in"the"field,"you"may"nonetheless"encounter"obstacles"that"necessitate"adjustments"to"
your" original" plans." Once" Kreft" had" arrived" in" Colombia," for" example," it" transpired" quickly" that"
carrying"out"in-person"interviews"in"more"remote/rural"areas"was"near"impossible"given"her"means,"
as"these"were"not"easily"accessible"by"bus/coach,"further"complicated"by"a"complex"security"situation."
Instead,"she" adjusted"her"research"design"and" shifted"her"focus"to"the" big"cities,"where"most"of"the"
major"civil"society"organizations"are"based."She"complemented"the"in-person"interviews"carried"out"
there"with"a"smaller"number"of" phone"interviews"with"civil" society"activists"in"rural"areas,"and"she"
was"also"able"to"meet"a"few"activists"operating"in"rural"or"otherwise"inaccessible"areas"as"they"were"
visiting"the"major"cities."The"resulting"focus"on"urban"settings"changed"the"kinds"of"generalizations"
"
18"
she"was"able"to"make"based"on" her" fieldwork" data" and"produced"a"somewhat"different"study" than"
initially"anticipated.""
This" also" has" been" the" case" for" Irgil," despite" her" prior" arrangements" with" the" Syrians"
gatekeepers,"which"required"adjustments"as"in"the"case"of"Kreft."Irgil"acquired"research"clearance"one"
year" before," during" the" interviews" with" native" citizens," conducting" the" interviews" with" Syrian"
refugees."She"also"had"her"questionnaire"ready"based"on"the"previously"collected"data"and"the"media"
search"she"had"conducted"for"over"a"year"before"travelling"to"the"field"site."As"she"was"able"to"visit"the"
field" site" multiple" times," two" months" before" conducting" interviews" with" Syrian" refugees," she"
developed" a" schedule" with" the" Syrian" gatekeepers" and" informants." Yet," once" she" was" in" the" field,"
influenced" by" Turkey’s" recent" political" events" and" the" policy" of" increasing" control" over" Syrian"
refugees,"half"of"the"previously"agreed"informants"changed"their"minds"or"did"not"want"to"participate"
in"interviews."As"Irgil"was"following"the"policies"and"the"news"related"to"Syrian"refugees"in"Turkey"
closely,"this"did"not"come"as"that"big"of"a"surprise"but"challenged"the"previously"developed"strategy"
to"recruit"interviewees."Thus,"she"changed"the"strategy"of"finding"interviewees"in"the"field"site,"such"
as" asking" people," almost" one" by" one," whether" they" would" like" to" participate" in" the" interview."
Eventually,"she"could"not"find"willing"Syrian"women"refugees"as"she"had"planned,"which"resulted"in"a"
male-dominant"sample." As" researchers" encounter" such"situations," it" is" essential" to"remind" oneself"
that"not"everything"can"go"according"to"plan,"that"“different”"does"not"equate"to"“worse,”"but"that"it"is"
important"to"consider"what"changes"to"fieldwork"data"collection"and"sampling"imply"for"the"study’s"
overall"findings"and"the"contribution"it"makes"to"the"literature."
We"should" note" that"conducting" interviews" is"very" taxing" –" especially" when"opportunities"
multiply,"as"in"Zvobgo’s"case."Depending"on"the"project,"each"interview"can"take"an"hour,"if"not"two"or"
more."Hence,"you"should"make"a"reasonable"schedule:"we"recommend"no"more"than"two"interviews"
per"day."You" do" not" want" to" have" to"cut"off"an"interview"because"you"need"to"rush"to"another"one,"
whether"the"interviews"are"in-person"or"remote."And"you"do"not"want"to"be"too"exhausted"to"have"a"
"
19"
robust" engagement" with" your" respondent" who" is" generously" lending" you" their" time." Limiting" the"
number" of" interviews" per" day" is" also" important" to" ensure" that" you" can" write" comprehensive" and"
meaningful"fieldnotes,"which"becomes"even"more"essential"where"it"is"not"possible"to"audio-record"
your"interviews."Also,"be"sure"to"remember"to"eat,"stay"hydrated,"and"try"to"get"enough"sleep."
Finally," whether" to" provide" gifts" or" payments" to" the" subject" also" requires" adapting" to" the"
reality" of" the" field." You" must" think" about" payments" beforehand" when" you" apply" for" Institutional"
Review"Board" (IRB)"approval" (or"whatever" other"ethical" review"processes" may" be" in"place)" since"
these"applications"usually"contain"questions"about"payments."Obviously,"the"first"step"is"to"carefully"
evaluate"whether"the"gifts"and"payments"provided"can"harm"the"subject"or"are"likely"to"unduly"affect"
the"responses"they"will"give"in"response"to"your"questions."If"that"is"not"the"case,"you"have"to"make"
payment" decisions" based" on" your" budget," field" situation," and" difficulties" in" recruitment." Usually,"
payment"of"respondents"is"more"common"in"survey"research,"whereas"it"is"less"common"in"interviews"
and"focus"groups.""
Nevertheless,"payment"practices"vary"depending"on"the"field"and"the"target"group."In"some"
cases,"it"may"become"a"custom"to"provide"small"gifts"or"payments"when"interviewing"a"certain"group."
In"other"cases,"interviewees"might"be"offended"if"they"are"provided"with"money."Therefore,"knowing"
past"practices"and"field"situations"is"important."For"example,"Lee"provided"small"coffee"gift"cards"to"
one"group"while"she"did"not"to"the"other"based"on"previous"practices"of"other"researchers."That"is,"for"
a"particular"group,"it"has"become"a"custom"for"interviewers"to"pay"interviewees."Sometimes,"you"may"
want"to"reimburse"your"subject’s"interview"costs"such"as"travel"expenses"and"provide"beverages"and"
snacks"during"the"conduct"of"research," as" Kreft" did" when" conducting" focus" groups" in" Colombia." To"
express" your" gratitude" to" your" respondents," you" can" prepare" small" gifts" such" as" your" university"
memorabilia" (e.g.," notebooks" and" pens)." Since" past" practices" about" payments" can" affect" your"
interactions"and" interviews"with"a"target"group,"you"want" to"seek"advice"from"your"colleagues" and"
other" researchers" who" had" experiences" interacting" with" the" target" group." If" you" cannot" find"
"
20"
researchers"who"have"this"knowledge,"you"can"search"for"published"works"on"the"target"population"
to"find"if"the"authors"share"their"interview"experiences."You"may"also"consider"contacting"the"authors"
for"advice"before"your"interviews.""
%
Researching'Strategically'!
Distinguishing"between"things"that"can"only"be"done"in"person"at"a"particular"site"and"things"that"can"
be"accomplished"later"at"home"is"vital."Prioritize"the"former"over"the"latter."Lee’s"fieldwork"experience"
serves"as"a"good"example."She"studied"a"conservative"protest"movement"called"the"Taegeukgi%Rally"in"
South" Korea." She" planned" to" conduct" interviews" with" the" rally" participants" to" examine" their"
motivations"for"participating."But"she"only"had"one"month"in"South"Korea."So,"she"focused"on"things"
that"could"only"be"done"in"the"field:"she"went"to"the"rally"sites,"she"observed"how"protests"proceeded,"
which"tactics" and"chants" were" used," and" she"met" participants"and" had"some" casual" conversations"
with"them."Then,"she"used"the"contacts"she"made"while"attending"the"rallies"to"create"a"social"network"
to"solicit"interviews"from"ordinary"protesters,"her"target"population."She"was"able"to"recruit"twenty-
five"interviewees"through"good"rapport"with"the"people"she"met."The"actual"interviews"proceeded"via"
phone"after" she"returned"to"the"United"States."In"a"nutshell,"we"advise"you"not"to" be"obsessed"with"
finishing"interviews"in"the"field."Sometimes,"it"is"more"beneficial"to"use"your"time"in"the"field"to"build"
relationships"and"networks."
%
Working'With'Assistants'and'Translators!
A"final"consideration"on"logistics"is"working"with"research"assistants"or"translators;"it"affects"how"you"
can" carry" out" interviews," focus" groups" etc." To" what" extent" constant" back-and-forth" translation" is"
necessary" or" advisable" depends" on" the" researcher’s" skills" in" the" interview" language" and"
considerations"about"time"and"efficiency."For"example,"Kreft"soon"realized"that"she"was"generally"able"
to"follow"along"quite"well"during"her"interviews"in"Colombia."In"order"to"avoid"precious"time"being"
"
21"
lost"to"translation,"she"had"her"research"assistant"follow"the"interview"guide"Kreft"had"developed,"and"
interjected"follow-up"questions"in"Spanish"or"English"(then"to"be"translated)"as"they"arose.""
Irgil’s"and"Zvobgo’s"interviews"went"a"little"differently."Irgil’s"Syrian"refugee"interviewees"in"
Turkey"were"native"Arabic"speakers,"and"Zvobgo’s"interviewees"in"Guatemala"were"native"Spanish"
speakers."Both"Irgil"and"Zvobgo"worked"with"research"assistants."In"Irgil’s"case,"her"assistant"was"a"
Syrian"man,"who"was"outside"of"the"area."Meanwhile,"Zvobgo’s"assistant"was"an"undergraduate"from"
her"home"institution" with" a" Spanish"language"background." Irgil" and"Zvobgo"began" preparing" their"
assistants"a"couple"of"months"before"entering"the"field,"over"Skype"for"Irgil"and"in-person"for"Zvobgo."
They" offered" their" assistants" readings" and" other" resources" to" provide" them" with" the" necessary"
background"to"work"well."Both"Irgil"and"Zvobgo’s"research"assistants"joined"them"in"the"interviews"
and"actually"did"most"of"the"speaking,"introducing"the"principal"investigator,"explaining"the"research,"
and" then" asking" the" questions." In" Zvobgo’s" case," interviewee" responses" were" relayed" via" a"
professional"interpreter"whom"she"had"also"hired."After"every"interview,"Irgil"and"Zvobgo"and"their"
respective"assistants"discussed"the"answers"of"the"interviewees,"potential"improvements"in"phrasing,"
and"elaborated"on"their"hand-written"interview"notes."As"a"backup,"Zvobgo,"with"the"consent"of"her"
respondents,"had"accompanying"audio"recordings.""
"
Physical!Safety!
Researchers"may" carry"out"fieldwork"in"a"country"that" is" considerably"less"safe"than"what"they"are"
used"to,"a"setting"affected"by"conflict"violence"or"high"crime"rates,"for"instance."Feelings"of"insecurity"
can"be"compounded"by" linguistic" barriers," cultural"particularities"and" being" far" away"from"friends"
and"family."Insecurity"is"also"often"gendered,"differentially"affecting"women"and"raising"the"specter"
of" unwanted" sexual" advances," street" harassment" or" even" sexual" assault" (Gifford" and" Hall-Clifford"
2008;"gge"2013)." In" a"recent" survey" of"Political"Science" graduate" students"in" the" United"States,"
about" half" of" those" who" had" done" fieldwork" internationally" reported" having" encountered" safety"
"
22"
issues"in"the"field,"(fifty"four"percent"female,"forty"seven"male"percent),"and"only"twenty"one"percent"
agreed"that"their"Ph.D."programs" had" prepared" them" to"carry"out"their" fieldwork" safely" (Schwartz"
and"Cronin-Furman"2020,"8-9)."
Preventative"measures"scholars"may"adopt" in" an" unsafe" context"may"involve,"at"their" most"
fundamental,"adjustments"to"everyday"routines"and"habits,"restricting"one’s"movements"temporally"
and"spatially."Reliance" on"gatekeepers"may"also"necessitate"adopting"new" strategies," such"as"a"less"
vehement" and" cold" rejection" of" unwanted" sexual" advances" than" one" ordinarily" would" exhibit," as"
Mügge" (2013)" illustratively" discusses." At" the" same" time," a" competitive" academic" job" market,"
imperatives" to" collect" novel" and" useful" data," and" harmful" discourses" surrounding" dangerous"
fieldwork"also,"problematically,"shape"incentives"for"junior"researchers"to"relax"their"own"standards"
of"what"constitutes"acceptable"risk"(Gallien"2021).""
Others"have"carefully"collected"a"range"of"safety"precautions"that"field"researchers"in"fragile"
or"conflict-affected"settings"may"take"before"and"during"fieldwork"(Hilhorst"et"al."2016)."Therefore,"
we"are" more" concise" in" our"discussion" of" recommendations," focusing" on" the" specific" situations" of"
graduate" students." Apart" from" ensuring" that" supervisors" and" university" administrators" have" the"
researcher’s"contact" information" in" the" field" (and" possibly" also" that" of" a" local" contact" person),"
researchers"can"register"with"their"country’s"embassy"or"foreign"office"and"any"crisis"monitoring"and"
prevention" systems" it" has" in" place." That" way," they" will" be" informed" of" any" possible" unfolding"
emergencies"and"the"authorities"have"a"record"of"them"being"in"the"country.""
It"may"also"be"advisable"to"set"up"more"individualized"safety"protocols"with"one"or"two"trusted"
individuals,"such"as"friends,"supervisors"or"colleagues"at"home"or"in"the"fieldwork"setting"itself."The"
latter"option"makes"sense"in"particular"if"one"has"an"official"affiliation"with"a"local"institution"for"the"
duration" of" the" fieldwork," which" is" often" advisable." Still," we" would" also" recommend" establishing"
relationships"with"local"researchers"in"the"absence"of"a"formal"affiliation."To"keep"others"informed"of"
her" whereabouts," Kreft," for" instance," made" arrangements" with" her" supervisors" to" be" in" touch" via"
"
23"
email"at"regular"intervals"to"report"on"progress"and"wellbeing."This"kept"her"supervisors"in"the"loop,"
while"an"interruption"in"communication"would"have"alerted"them"early"if"something"were"wrong."In"
addition,"she"announced"planned"trips"to"other"parts"of"the"country"and"granted"her"supervisors"and"
a"colleague"at"her"home"institution"emergency"reading"access"to"her"digital"calendar."To"most"of"her"
interviews,"she"was"moreover"accompanied"by"her"local"research"assistant/translator."If"the"nature"
of"the"research,"ethical"considerations"and"the"safety"situation"allow,"it"might"also"be"possible"to"bring"
a"local"friend"along"to"interviews"as"an"“assistant,”"purely"for"safety"reasons."This"option"needs"to"be"
carefully"considered"already"in"the"planning"stage"and"should,"particularly"in"settings"of"fragility"or"if"
carrying" out" research" on" politically" exposed" individuals," be" noted" in" any" ethical" and" institutional"
review"processes"where"these"are"required."Adequate"compensation"for"such"an"assistant"should"be"
ensured."It"may"also"be"advisable"to"put"in"place"an"emergency"plan,"i.e."choose"emergency"contacts"
back"home"and"“in"the"field,”"know"whom"to"contact"if"something"happens,"and"know"how"to"get"to"
the"nearest"hospital"or"clinic.""
We"would"be"remiss"if"we"did"not"mention"that,"when"in"an"unfamiliar"context,"one’s"safety"
radar"may" be" misguided,"so" it"is" essential" to"listen" to"people" who" know"the" context."For" example,"
locals"can"give"advice"on"which"means"of"transport"are"safe"and"which"are"not,"a"question"that"is"of"
the" utmost" importance" when" traveling" to" appointments." For" example," Kreft" was" warned" that" in"
Colombia"regular"taxis"are"often"unsafe,"especially"if"waved"down"in"the"streets,"and"that"to"get"to"her"
interviews" safely," she" should" rely" on" a" ride-share" service." In" one" instance," a" Colombian" friend"
suggested"that"when"there"was"no"alternative"to"a"regular"taxi,"Kreft" should" book" through" the" app"
and"share" the" order" details," including" the" taxi" registration" number"or" license" plate," with" a" friend."
Likewise,"sharing"one’s"cell"phone"location"with"a"trusted" friend" while" traveling"or" when"one"feels"
unsafe"may"be"a"viable"option."Finally,"it"is"prudent"to"heed"the"safety"recommendations"and"travel"
advisories"provided"by" state" authorities" and"embassies"to" determine" when" and"where"it" is" safe"to"
"
24"
travel."Especially"if" researchers" have" a"responsibility" not" only" for" themselves" but"also"for"research"
assistants"and"research"participants,"safety"must"be"a"top"priority.""
This"does" not" mean"that" a" researcher" should" be"careless" in" a" context" they"know" either." Of"
course,"conducting"fieldwork"in"a"context"that"is"known"to"the"researcher"offers"many"advantages."
However," one" should" be" prepared" to" encounter" unwanted" events" too." For" instance," Irgil" has"
conducted"fieldwork"in"her"country"of"origin"in"a"city"she"knows"very"well."Therefore,"access"to"the"
site,"moving"around"the"site,"and"blending"in"has"not"been"a"problem;"she"also"has"the"advantage"of"
speaking"the"native"language."Yet,"she"took"notes"of"the"streets"she"walked"in,"as"she"often"returned"
from" the" field" site" after" dark" and" thought" she" might" get" confused" after" a" tiring" day." She" also"
established"a"closer"relationship"with"two"or"three"store"owners"in"different"parts"of"the"field"site"if"
she"needed"something"urgent,"like"running"out"of"battery."Above"all,"one"should"always"be"aware"of"
one’s"surroundings"and"use"common"sense."If"something"feels"unsafe,"chances"are"it"is."
"
Mental!Wellbeing!and!Affect!
Fieldwork"may" negatively"affect"the"researcher’s"mental"health"and"mental"wellbeing"regardless"of"
where"one’s" “field”"is," whether" related" to" concerns" about" crime" and" insecurity," linguistic" barriers,"
social"isolation,"or"the"practicalities"of"identifying,"contacting"and"interviewing"research"participants."
Coping"with" these"different"sources"of"stress"can"be" both"mentally"and"physically"exhausting."Then"
there"are"the"things"you"may"hear,"see"and"learn"during"the"research"itself,"such"as"gruesome"accounts"
of" violence" and" suffering" conveyed" in" interviews" or" archival" documents" one" peruses." Kreft" and"
Zvobgo" have" spoken" with" women" victims" of" conflict-related" sexual" violence," who" sometimes"
displayed"strong"emotions"of"pain"and" anger" during" the" interviews."Likewise,"Irgil"and"Willis" have"
spoken" with" members" of" other" vulnerable" populations" such" as" refugees" and" former" sex" workers"
(Willis"2020).""
"
25"
Prior"accounts"(Wood"2006;"Skjelsbæk"2018;"Hummel"and"El"Kurd" 2020;" Williamson" et" al."
2020;"Loyle"and"Simoni"2017;"Schulz"and"Kreft,"2021)"show"that"it"is"natural"for"sensitive"research"
and" fieldwork" challenges" to" affect" or" even" (vicariously)" traumatize" the" researcher." By" removing"
researchers" from" their" regular" routines" and" support" networks," fieldwork" may" also" exacerbate"
existing" mental" health" conditions" (Hummel" and" El" Kurd" 2020)." Nonetheless," mental" wellbeing" is"
rarely"incorporated"into"fieldwork"courses"and"guidelines,"where"these"exist"at"all."But"even"if"you"
know" to" anticipate" some"sort" of" reaction," you" rarely" know" what" that" reaction" will" be" until" you"
experience" it." When" researching" sensitive" or" difficult" topics," for" example," reactions" can" include"
sadness," frustration," anger,"fear," helplessness" and" flashbacks" to" personal" experiences" of" violence"
(Williamson"et"al."2020)."For"example,"Kreft"responded"with"episodic"feelings"of"depression"and"both"
mental"and"physical"exhaustion."But"curiously,"these"reactions"emerged"most"strongly"after"she"had"
returned"from" fieldwork" and" in" particular"as" she" spent" extended" periods" analyzing" her" interview"
data,"reliving"some"of" the" more"emotional"scenes"during"the"interviews"and"being"confronted"with"
accounts"of"(sexual)"violence"against"women"in"a"concentrated"fashion."This"is"a"crucial"reminder"that"
fieldwork"does"not"end"when"one"returns"home;"the"after-effects"may"linger."Likewise,"Zvobgo"was"
physically"and"mentally"drained"upon"her"return"from"the"field."Both"Kreft"and"Zvobgo"were"unable"
to"concentrate"for"long"periods"of"time"and"experienced"lower-than-normal"levels"of"productivity"for"
weeks"afterward,"patterns"that"formal"and"informal"conversations"with"other"scholars"confirm"to"be"
common" (Schulz" and" Kreft," 2021)." Furthermore," the" boundaries" between" “field”" and" “home”" are"
blurred"when"conducting"remote"fieldwork"(Howlett"2021,"11).""
Nor"are" these"adverse" reactions"limited" to"cases" where"the" researcher"has" carried" out" the"
interviews"themselves." Accounts" of" violence," pain" and"suffering" transported" in" reports," secondary"
literature"or"other"sources"can"evoke"similar"emotional"stress,"as"Kreft"experienced"when"engaging"
in"a"concentrated"fashion"with"additional"accounts"of"conflict-related"sexual"violence"in"Colombia"and"
with"the"feminist"literature"on"sexual"and"gender-based"violence"in"the"comfort"of"her"Swedish"office."
"
26"
This"could"also" be" applicable"to" Irgil’s" fieldwork"as" she" interviewed"refugees"whose" traumas" have"
come"out"during"the"interviews"or"recall"specific"events"triggered"by"the"questions."Likewise,"Lee"has"
reviewed"primary"and"secondary"materials" on"North"Korean"defectors"in"the"national"archives"and"
these"materials"contain"violent,"intense,"emotional"narratives.""
Fortunately," there" are" several" strategies" to" cope" with" and" manage" such" adverse"
consequences."In"a"candid"and"insightful"piece,"other" researchers" have" discussed" the" usefulness" of"
distractions,"sharing"with" colleagues," counselling," exercise,"and,"probably"less"advisable"in"the"long"
term,"comfort"eating"and"drinking"(Williamson"et"al."2020;"see"also"Loyle"and"Simoni"2017,"Hummel"
and"El"Kurd"2020)."Our"experiences"largely"tally"with"their"observations."In"this"section,"we"explore"
some"of"these"in"more"detail."
First,"in"the"face"of"adverse"consequences"on"your"mental"wellbeing,"whether"in"the"field"or"
after" your" return," it" is" essential" to" be" patient" and" generous" with" yourself." Negative" effects" on" the"
researcher’s"mental"wellbeing"can"hit"in"unexpected"ways"and"at"unexpected"times."Even"if"you"think"
that"certain"reactions"are"disproportionate"or"unwarranted"at"that"specific"moment,"they"may"simply"
have"been"building"up"over"a"long"time."They"are"legitimate."Second,"the"importance"of"taking"breaks"
and"finding"distractions," whether" that"is" exercise," socializing" with"friends," reading" a"good"book" or"
watching" a" new" series," cannot" be" overstated." It" is" easy" to" fall" into" a" mode" of" thinking" that" you"
constantly"have"to"be" productive" while" you’re" “in" the" field,”" to" maximize" your"time."But"as"with"all"
other"areas"in"life,"balance"is"key"and"rest"is"necessary."Taking"your"mind"off"your"research"and"the"
research" questions" you" puzzle" over" is" also" a" good" way" to" more" fully" soak" up" and" appreciate" the"
context"in"which"you"find"yourself,"in"the"case"of"in-person"fieldwork,"and"about"which"you"ultimately"
write."
Third,"we"cannot"stress"enough"the"importance"of"investing"in"social"relations."Before"going"
on" fieldwork," researchers" may" want" to" consult" others" who" have" done" it" before" them." Try" to" find"
(junior)" scholars" who" have" done" fieldwork" on" similar" kinds" of" topics" or" in" the" same" country" or"
"
27"
countries"you"are"planning"to"visit."Utilizing"colleagues’"contacts"and"forging"connections"using"social"
media"are"valuable"strategies"to"expand"your"networks"(in"fact,"this"very"paper"is"the"result"of"a"social"
media"conversation"and"several"of"the"authors"have"never"met"in"person)."Having"been"in"the"same"
situation"before,"most"field"researchers"are,"in"our"experience,"generous"with"their"time"and"advice."
Before"embarking"on"her"first"trip"to"Colombia,"Kreft"contacted"other"researchers"in"her"immediate"
and"extended"network"and"received"useful"advice"on"questions"such"as"how"to"move"around"Bogotá,"
whom"to"speak"to"and"how"to"find"a"research"assistant."After"completing"her"fieldwork,"she"has"passed"
on"her"experiences"to"others"who"contacted"her"before"their"first"fieldwork"trip."Informal"networks"
are,"in"the"absence"of"more"formalized"fieldwork"preparation,"your"best"friend.""
In" the" field," seeking" the" company" of" locals" and" of" other" researchers" who" are" also" doing"
fieldwork"alleviates" anxiety" and" makes" fieldwork" more" enjoyable."Exchanging" experiences,"advice"
and" potential" interviewee" contacts" with" peers" can" be" extremely" beneficial" and" make" the" many"
challenges" inherent" in" fieldwork" (on" difficult" topics)" seem" more" manageable." While" researchers"
conducting" remote" fieldwork" may" be" physically" isolated" from" other" researchers," even" connecting"
with"others"doing"remote"fieldwork"may"be"comforting."And"even"when"there"are"no"precise"solutions"
to"be"found,"it"is"heartening"or"even"cathartic"to"meet"others"who"are"in"the"same"boat"and"with"whom"
you"can" talk"through"your"experiences."When" Kreft"shared"some"of"her" fieldwork-related"struggles"
with"another"researcher" she"had"just"met"in"Bogotá"and" realized"that"they"were"encountering"very"
similar"challenges,"it"was"like"a"weight"was"lifted"off"her"shoulders."Similarly,"peer"support"can"help"
with"readjustment"after"the"fieldwork"trip,"even"if"it"serves"only"to"reassure"you"that"a"post-fieldwork"
dip"in"productivity"and"mental"wellbeing"is"entirely"natural."Bear"in"mind"that"certain"challenges"are"
part" of" the" fieldwork" experience" and" that" they" do" not" result" from" inadequacy" on" the" part" of" the"
researcher.""
Finally,"we"would"like"to"stress"a"point"made"by"Inger"Skjelsbæk"(2018,"509)"and"which"has"
not"received"sufficient"attention:"as"a"discipline,"we"need"to"take"the"question"of"researcher"mental"
"
28"
wellbeing"more"seriously"–"not"only"in"graduate"education,"fieldwork"preparation,"and"at"conferences,"
but" also" in" reflecting" on" how" it" affects" the" research" process" itself:"“When" strong" emotions" arise,"
through" reading" about," coding," or" talking" to" people" who" have" been" impacted" by" [conflict-related"
sexual" violence]" (as" victims" or" perpetrators)," it" may" create" a" feeling" of" being" unprofessional,"
nonscientific,"and"too"subjective.”"
We" contend" that" this" is" a" challenge" not" only" for" research" on" sensitive" issues" but" also" for"
fieldwork"more" generally." To" what" extent" is" it"possible," and"desirable," to" uphold" the" image" of" the"
objective"researcher"during"fieldwork,"when"we"are"at"our"foundation"human"beings?"And"going"even"
further,"how"do"the"(anticipated)"effects"of"our"research"on"our"wellbeing,"and"the"safety"precautions"
we"take"(Gifford"and"Hall-Clifford"2008),"affect"the"kinds"of"questions"we"ask,"the"kinds"of"places"we"
visit"and"with" whom" we" speak?" How" do" they"affect"the"methods"we"use"and"how"we"interpret"our"
findings?" An" honest" discussion" of" affective" responses" to" our" research" in" methods" sections" seems"
utopian," as" emotionality" in" the" research" process" continues" to" be" silenced" and" relegated" to" the"
personal," often" in" gendered" ways," which" in" turn" is" considered" unconnected" to" the" objective" and"
scientific"research"process"(Jamar" and" Chappuis" 2016)."But"as" Gifford" and" Hall-Clifford"(2008,"26)"
aptly"put"it:"“Graduate"education"should"acknowledge"the"reality"that"fieldwork"is"scholarly"but"also"
intimately" personal,”" and" we" contend" that" the" two" shape" each" other." Therefore," we" encourage"
political"science"as"a"discipline"to"reflect"on"researcher"wellbeing"and"affective"responses"to"fieldwork"
more"carefully,"and"we"see"the"need"for"methods"courses"that"embrace"a"more"holistic"notion"of"the"
subjectivity"of"the"researcher.""
"
Ethical!Considerations!
Interacting"with" people" in" the" field" is" one" of" the" most" challenging" yet" rewarding" parts"of"the"work"
that" we" do," especially" in" comparison" to" impersonal," often" tedious" wrangling" and" analysis" of"
quantitative" data." Field" researchers" often" make" personal" connections" with" their" interviewees."
"
29"
Consequently,"maintaining"boundaries" can" be" a" bit"tricky."Here,"we" recommend"being"honest" with"
everyone"with"whom"you"interact"without"overstating"the"abilities"of"a"researcher."This"appears"as"a"
challenge"in"the"field,"particularly" when"you"empathize"with"people"and"when"they"share"profound"
parts"of"their"lives"with"you"for"your"research"in"addition"to"being"“human"subjects”"(Fujii"2012)."For"
instance,"when" Irgil"interviewed"native"citizens"about" the"changes"in"their"neighborhood"following"
the"arrival"of"Syrian"refugees,"many"interviewees"questioned"what"she"would"offer"them"in"return"for"
their"participation."Irgil"responded"that"her"primary"contribution"would"be"her"published"work."She"
also"noted,"however,"that"academic"papers"can"take"a"year,"sometimes"longer,"to"go"through"the"peer-
review"process"and,"once"published,"many"studies"have"a"limited"audience."The"Syrian"refugees"posed"
similar"questions."Irgil"responded"not"only"with"honesty"but"also,"given"this"population’s"vulnerable"
status,"she"provided"them"contact"information"for"NGOs"with"which"they"could"connect"if"they"needed"
help"or"answers"to"specific"questions.""
For"her"part,"Zvobgo"was"very"upfront"with"her"interviewees"about"her"role"as"a"researcher:"
she"recognized"that" she" is"not" someone" who" is"on" the" frontlines"of"the" fight" for"human"rights" and"
transitional"justice" like" they"are." All"she" could/can" do" is" use" her" platform"to" amplify"their" stories,"
bringing" attention" to" their" vital" work" through" her" future" peer-reviewed" publications." She" also"
committed"to"sending" them" copies" of" the" work," as"electronic"journal"articles"are"often"inaccessible"
due" to" paywalls" and" university" press" books" are" very" expensive," especially" for" non-profits."
Interviewees"were"very"receptive;"some"were"even"moved"by"the"degree"of"self-awareness"and"the"
commitment"to"do"right"by"them."In" some" cases," this" prompted"them"to"share"even" more," because"
they" knew" that" the" researcher" was" really" there" to" listen" and" learn." This" is" something" that" junior"
scholars,"and"all"scholars"really,"should"always"remember."We"enter"the"field"to"be"taught."Likewise,"
Kreft" circulated" among" her" interviewees" Spanish-language" versions" of" an" academic" article" and" a"
policy"brief"based"on"the"fieldwork"she"had"carried"out"in"Colombia.""
"
30"
As"researchers"from"the"Global"North,"we"recognize"a"possible"power"differential"between"us"
and"our"research"subjects,"and"certainly"an"imbalance"in"power"between"the"countries"where"we"have"
been" trained" and" some" of" the" countries" where" we" have" done" and" continue" to" do" field" research,"
particularly"in"politically-dynamic"contexts"(Knott"2019)."This"is"why"we"are"so"concerned"with"being"
open"and" transparent"with"everyone"with"whom" we"come"into"contact"in"the"field"and"why"we"are"
committed"to"giving"back"to"those"who"so"generously"lend"us"their"time"and"knowledge."Knott"(2019,"
148)"summarizes"this"as"“Reflexive"openness"is"a"form"of"transparency"that"is"methodologically"and"
ethically"superior"to"providing"access"to"data"in"its"raw"form,"at"least"for"qualitative"data.”""
We"also"recognize"that"academics,"including"in"the"social"sciences"and"especially"those"hailing"
from"countries"in"the"Global"North,"have"a"long"and"troubled"history"of"exploiting"their"power"over"
others" for" the" sake" of" their" research" –" including" failing" to" be" upfront" about" their" research" goals,"
misrepresenting"the"on-the-ground"realities"of"their"field"research"sites"(including"remote"fieldwork),"
and"publishing"essentializing,"paternalistic,"and"damaging"views"and"analyses"of"the"people"there."No"
one"should" build" their" career" on" the" backs" of" others," least" of" all" in" a" field" concerned" with" the"
possession"and" exercise" of"power." Thus," it" is" highly"crucial" to" acknowledge"the" power" hierarchies"
between"the"researcher"and"the"interviewees,"and"to"reflect"on"them"both"in"the"field"and"beyond"the"
field"upon"return.""
"
Remote!Fieldwork!
A"major"challenge"to"conducting"fieldwork"is"when"researchers’"carefully-planned"designs"do"not"go"
as"planned" due" to" unforeseen" events"outside" of" our"control," such"as" pandemics," natural"disasters,"
deteriorating" security" situations" in" the" field," or" even" the" researcher" falling" ill." As" the" Covid-19"
pandemic" has" made" painfully" clear," researchers" may" face" situations" where" in-person" research" is"
simply"not"possible."In"some"cases,"researchers"may"be"barred"entry"to"their"fieldwork"site;"in"others,"
the" ethical" implications" of" entering" the" field" greatly" outweigh" the" importance" of" fieldwork." Such"
"
31"
barriers" to" conducting" in-person" research" require" us" to" reconsider" conventional" notions" of" what"
constitutes" fieldwork." Researchers" may" need" to" shift" their" data" collection" methods," for" example,"
conducting"interviews" remotely" instead" of"in" person." Even"while" researchers" are"in" the" field,"they"
may"still" need" to"carry" out" part"of" their"interviews" or" surveys"virtually"or" by" phone." For"example,"
Kreft" (2020)" carried" out" a" small" number" of" interviews" remotely" while" she" was" based" in" Bogotá,"
because"some"of"the"women’s"civil"society"activists"with"whom"she"intended"to"speak"were"based"in"
parts"of"the"country"that"were"difficult"and/"or"dangerous"to"access."
Remote"field"research,"which"we"define"as"the"collection"of"data"over"the"internet"or"over"the"
phone"where"in-person"fieldwork"is"not"possible"due"to"security,"health"or"other"risks,"comes"with"its"
own" sets" of" challenges." For" one," there" may" be" certain" populations" that" researchers" cannot" reach"
remotely"due" to"a"lack"of"internet" connectivity"or"technology"such"as" cellphones"and"computers."In"
such" instances," there" will" be" a" sampling" bias" toward" individuals" and" groups" that" do" have" these"
resources,"a"point"worth"noting"when"scholars"interpret"their"research"findings."In"the"case"of"virtual"
research,"the"risk"of"online"surveillance,"hacking,"or"wiretapping"may"also"produce"reluctance"on"the"
part"of"interviewees"to"discuss"sensitive"issues"that"may"compromise"their"safety."Researchers"need"
to"carefully"consider"how"the"use"of"digital"technology"may"increase"the"risk"to"research"participants"
and"what"changes"to"the"research"design"and"any"interview"guides"this"necessitates."In"general,"it"is"
imperative"that"researchers"reflect"on"how"they"can"ethically"use"digital"technology"in"their"fieldwork"
(Van"Baalen"2018)."Remote"interviews"may"also"be"challenging"to"arrange"for"researchers"who"have"
not"made"connections"in"person"with"people"in"their"community"of"interest.""
Some" of" the" serendipitous" happenings" we" discussed" earlier" may" also" be" less" likely" and"
snowball"sampling"more"difficult."For"example,"in"phone"or"virtual"interviews,"it" is" harder" to" build"
good" rapport" and" trust" with" interviewees" as" compared" to" face-to-face" interviews." Accordingly,"
researchers"should"be"more"careful"in"communicating"with"interviewees"and"creating"a"comfortable"
interview"environment."Especially"when"dealing"with"sensitive"topics,"researchers"may"have"to"make"
"
32"
several"phone"calls"and"sometimes"have"to"open"themselves"to"establishing"trust"with"interviewees."
Also,"researchers"must"be"careful"in"protecting"interviewees"in"phone"or"virtual"interviews"when"they"
deal"with"sensitive"topics"of"countries"interviewees"reside"in."
"The"inability" to"physically"visit"one’s"community" of"interest"may"also"encourage"scholars"to"
critically" reflect" on" how" much" time" in" the" field" is" essential" to" completing" their" research" and" to"
consider"creative,"alternative"means"for"accessing"information"to"complete"their"projects."While"data"
collection"techniques" such" as"face-to-face"interviews"and"archival"work" in"the"field"may"be"ideal"in"
normal"times," there" exist" other" data" sources" that" can" provide" comparably" useful" information." For"
example,"in" her" research"on"the"role"of"framing" in"the"United"States"base"politics," Willis"found"that"
social"media"accounts"and"websites"yielded"information"useful"to"her"project."Many"archives"across"
the"world"have"also"been"digitized."Researchers"may"also"consider"crowdsourcing"data"from"the"field"
among"their"networks,"as"fellow"academics"tend"to"collect"much"more"data"in"the"field"than"they"ever"
use"in"their"published"works."They"may"also"elect"to"hire"someone,"perhaps"a"graduate"student,"in"a"
city"or"a"country"where" they" cannot"travel"and"have" the" individual"access,"scan," and" send"archival"
materials." This" final" suggestion" may" prove" generally" useful" to" researchers" with" limited" time" and"
financial"resources."
"Remote" qualitative" data" collection" techniques," while" they" will" likely" never" be" “the" gold-
standard,”"also" pose"several"advantages."These"techniques" may"help"researchers"avoid"some" of"the"
issues"mentioned" previously."Remote"interviews,"for"example,"are"less"time-consuming" in" terms" of"
travel"to"the"interview"site"(Archibald"et"al."2019)."The"implication"is"that"researchers"may"have"less"
fatigue"from"conducting" interviews" and/or" may"be" able" to" conduct"more" interviews." For" example,"
while"Willis"had"little"energy"to"do"anything"else"after"an"in-person"interview"(or"two)"in"a"given"day,"
she" had" much" more" energy" after" completing" remote" interviews." Secondly," remote" fieldwork" also"
helps"researchers"avoid" potentially" dangerous"situations"in" the" field"mentioned"previously." Lastly,"
remote"fieldwork"generally"presents"fewer"financial"barriers"than"in-person"research"(Archibald"et"
"
33"
al."2019)."In"that"sense,"considering"remote"qualitative"data"collection,"a"type"of"“fieldwork”"may"make"
fieldwork"more"accessible"to"a"greater"number"of"scholars."
"
Concluding!Thoughts!
Many"of"the"substantive,"methodological"and"practical"challenges"that"arise"during"fieldwork"can"be"
anticipated."Proper"preparation"can"help"you"hit"the"ground"running"once"you"enter"your"fieldwork"
destination," whether" in-person" or" virtually." Nonetheless," there" is" no" such" thing" as" being" perfectly"
prepared"for"the"field."Some"things"will"simply"be"beyond"your"control,"and"especially"as"a"newcomer"
to"field" research," and" you"should" be" prepared"for"things" to" not"go" as" planned."New" questions" will"
arise," interview" participants" may" cancel" appointments," and" you" might" not" get" the" answers" you"
expected."Be"ready"to"make"adjustments"to"research"plans,"interview"guides"or"questionnaires."And,"
be"mindful"of"your"affective"reactions"to"the"overall"fieldwork"situation"and"be"gentle"with"yourself.""
We"recommend"approaching"fieldwork"as"a"learning"experience"as"much"as,"or"perhaps"even"
more"than,"a"data"collection"effort."This"also"applies"to"your"research"topic."While"it"is"prudent"always"
to"exercise"a"healthy"amount"of"skepticism"about"what"people"tell"you"and"why,"the" participants"in"
your"research"will"likely"have"unique"perspectives" and" knowledge" that" will" challenge"yours."Be"an"
attentive"listener"and"remember"that"they"are"experts"of"their"own"experiences."""
We"encourage" more" institutions"to" offer" courses"that" cover" field"research" preparation" and"
planning,"practical"advice"on"safety"and"wellbeing,"and"discussion"of"ethics."Specifically,"we"align"with"
Schwartz" and" Cronin-Furman’s" (2020," 3)" contention" “that" treating" fieldwork"preparation" as" the"
methodology"will"improve"individual"scholars’"experiences"and"research.”"In"this"article,"we"outline"
a"set"of"issue"areas"in"which"we"think"formal"preparation"is"necessary,"but"we"note"that"our"discussion"
is"by"no"means"exhaustive."Formal"fieldwork"preparation"should"also"extend"beyond"what"we"have"
covered"in" this" article,"such" as" issues"of" data" security" and" preparing"for" non-qualitative" fieldwork"
methods."We"also"note"that"field"research"is"one"area"that"has"yet"to"be"comprehensively"addressed"
"
34"
in"conversations"on"diversity"and"equity"in"the"political"science"discipline"and"the"broader"academic"
profession."In"a"recent"article,"Brielle"Harbin"(2021)"begins"to"fill"this"gap"by"sharing"her"experiences"
conducting"in-person"election"surveys"as"a"Black"woman"in"a"conservative"and"predominantly"white"
region" of" the" United" States" and" the" challenges" that" she" encountered." Beyond" race" and" gender,"
citizenship,"immigration"status,"one’s"Ph.D."institution"and"distance"to"the"field"also"affect"who"is"able"
to"do"what"type"of"field"research,"where,"and"for"how"long."Future"research"should"explore"these"and"
related"questions"in"greater"detail"because" limits"on"who"is"able"to"conduct"field"research"constrict"
the"sociological"imagination"of"our"field." "
"
35"
References!
Advancing" Conflict" Research." 2020." The% ARC% Bibliography." Accessed" September" 6," 2020,"
https://advancingconflictresearch.com/resources-1.""
Archibald," Mandy" M.," Rachel" C." Ambagtsheer," Mavourneen" G." Casey," and" Michael" Lawless." 2019."
“Using"Zoom"Videoconferencing"for"Qualitative"Data"Collection:"Perceptions"and"Experiences"
of"Researchers"and"Participants.”"International%Journal%of%Qualitative%Methods"18:"118.""
Beath," Andrew,"Fotini" Christia," and" Ruben" Enikolopov." 2013." “Empowering" Women" through"
Development"Aid:"Evidence"from"a"Field"Experiment"in"Afghanistan.”"American%Political%Science%
Review%107(3):"54057.""
Harbin,"Brielle"M."2021."“Who’s"Able"to" Do"Political"Science"Work?"My"Experience"with"Exit"Polling"
and"What"It"Reveals"about"Issues"of"Race"and"Equity.”"PS:%Political%Science%&%Politics"54(1):"144
6.""
Carling,"Jorgen,"Marta"Bivand"Erdal,"and"Rojan"Ezzati."2014."“Beyond"the"InsiderOutsider"Divide"in"
Migration"Research.”"Migration%Studies"2(1):"3654."
Chambers-Ju,"Christopher."2014."“Data"Collection,"Opportunity"Costs,"and"Problem"Solving:"Lessons"
from" Field" Research" on" Teachers’" Unions" in" Latin" America.”" P.S.:% Political% Science% &% Politics"
47(2):"4059."
Collier,"David."2011."“Understanding"Process"Tracing.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%and%Politics%44(4):"823
30.""
Druckman,"James"N.,"Donald"P."Green,"James"H."Kuklinski,"and"Arthur"Lupia."2006."“The"Growth"and"
Development"of"Experimental"Research"in"Political"Science.”"American%Political%Science%Review"
100(4):"62735.""
Elman,"Colin,"Diana"Kapiszewski,"and"Dessislava"Kirilova."2015."“Learning"through"research:"Using"
data"to"train"undergraduates"in"qualitative"methods.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%Politics%48(1):"39
43."
Emmons,"Cassandra"V."and"Andrew"M."Moravcsik."2020."“Graduate"Qualitative"Methods"Training"in"
Political"Science:"A"Disciplinary"Crisis.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%Politics"53(2):"25864."
Esarey,"Justin."2017."“Causal"Inference"with"Observational"Data.”"In"Analytics,%Policy,%and%Governance,"
edited"by"Jennifer"Bachner,"Kathryn"Wagner"Hill,"and"Benjamin"Ginsberg,"4066."New"Haven:"
Yale"University"Press."
Finseraas," Henning" and" Andreas" Kotsadam." 2017." “Does" personal" contact" with" ethnic" minorities"
affect" anti-immigrant" sentiments?" Evidence" from" a" field" experiment.”" European% Journal% of%
Political%Research%56:"70322.""
Fujii,"Lee"Ann." 2012." “Research" Ethics" 101:"Dilemmas"and"Responsibilities.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%
Politics"45(4):"71723."
Gallien,"Max."2021."“Solitary"Decision-Making"and"Fieldwork"Safety.”"In"The%Companion%to%Peace%and%
Conflict%Fieldwork," edited" by"Ginty," Roger" Mac,"Roddy" Brett," and"Birte" Vogel," 16374."Cham,"
Switzerland:"Palgrave"Macmillan."""
Geddes," Barbara." 2003." Paradigms% and% Sand% Castles:% Theory% Building% and% Research% Design% in%
Comparative%Politics."Ann"Arbor:"University"of"Michigan"Press."
Gifford," Lindsay," and" Rachel" Hall-Clifford." 2008." “From" Catcalls" to" Kidnapping:" Towards" an" Open"
Dialogue"on"the"Fieldwork"Experiences"of"Graduate"Women.”"Anthropology%News"49(6):"267."
Greitens,"Sheena"C."2016."Dictators%and%Their%Secret%Police:%Coercive%Institutions% and% State% Violence."
Cambridge:"Cambridge"University"Press."
Hilhorst," Dorothea," Lucy" Hogson," Bram" Jansen," and" Rodrigo" Fluhmann" Mena." 2016." Security%
Guidelines%for% Field% Research% in% Complex,% Remote% and% Hazardous% Places.%Accessed" August"25,"
2020,"http://hdl.handle.net/1765/93256.""
"
36"
Howlett,"Marnie."2021."“Looking"at"the"‘Field’"through"a"Zoom"Lens:"Methodological"Reflections"on"
Conducting"Online"Research"during"a"Global"Pandemic.”"Qualitative%Research."Online"first."
Hsueh,"Roselyn,"Francesca"Refsum"Jensenius,"and"Akasemi"Newsome."2014." “Fieldwork" in" Political"
Science:"Encountering"Challenges"and"Crafting"Solutions:"Introduction.”"PS:%Political%Science%&%
Politics"47(2):"3913.""
Hummel," Calla," and" Dana" El" Kurd." 2020." “Mental" Health" and" Fieldwork.”" P.S.:% Political% Science% &%
Politics"54(1):"1215."
Irgil," Ezgi." 2020." “Broadening" the" positionality" in" migration" studies:" Assigned" insider" category.”"
Migration%Studies.%Online"first.""
Jacobsen," Karen," and" Lauren" B." Landau." 2003." “The" dual" imperative" in" refugee" research:" some"
methodological" and" ethical" considerations" in" social" science" research" on" forced" migration.”"
Disasters"27(3):"185206."
Jamar," Astrid," and" Fairlie" Chappuis." 2016." “Conventions" of" Silence:" Emotions" and" Knowledge"
Production"in"War-Affected"Research"Environments.”"Parcours%Anthropologiques%11:"95117."
Jensenius,"Francesca"R."2014."“The"Fieldwork"of"Quantitative"Data"Collection.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%
Politics"47(2):"4024."
Kapiszewski," Diana," Lauren" M." MacLean," and" Benjamin" L." Read." 2015." Field% Research% in% Political%
Science:%Practices%and%Principles."Cambridge:"Cambridge"University"Press."
Kelsky,"Karen."2015."The%Professor%Is%in:%The%Essential%Guide%to%Turning%Your%Ph.D.%Into%a%Job."New"York:"
Three"Rivers"Press."
Knott," Eleanor." 2019." “Beyond" the" Field:" Ethics" after" Fieldwork" in" Politically" Dynamic" Contexts.”"
Perspectives%on%Politics"17(1):"14053."
Kreft,"Anne-Kathrin."2019."“Responding"to"sexual"violence:"Women’s"mobilization"in"war.”"Journal%of%
Peace%Research"56(2):"22033."
Kreft,"Anne-Kathrin."2020."“Civil"Society"Perspectives"on"Sexual"Violence"in"Conflict:"Patriarchy"and"
War"Strategy"in"Colombia.”"International%Affairs"96(2):"45778."
Loyle,"Cyanne"E.,"and"Alicia"Simoni."2017."“Researching"Under"Fire:"Political"Science"and"Researcher"
Trauma.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%Politics%50(1):"1415."
Mackenzie,"Catriona,"Christopher"McDowell,"and"Eileen"Pittaway."2007." “Beyond" ‘do" no"harm’:"The"
challenge"of"constructing"ethical"relationships"in"refugee"research.”%Journal%of%Refugee%Studies%
20(2):"299319."
Marston,"Jerome"F."2020."“Resisting"Displacement:"Leveraging"Interpersonal"Ties"to"Remain"despite"
Criminal"Violence"in"Medellín,"Colombia.”"Comparative%Political%Studies"53(13):"19952028."
Mosley,"Layna"(ed.)."2013."Interview%Research%in%Political%Science."Ithaca:"Cornell"University"Press."
Mügge,"Liza" M."2013."“Sexually"Harassed"by"Gatekeepers:"Reflections"on"Fieldwork" in"Surinam"and"
Turkey.”"International%Journal%of%Social%Research%Methodology"16(6):"5416."
Nexon,"Daniel."2019."International%Studies%Quarterly%(ISQ)%2019%Annual%Editorial%Report.%Accessed"
August"25,"2020,"
https://www.isanet.org/Portals/0/Documents/ISQ/2019_ISQ%20Report.pdf?ver="
2019-11-06-103524-300.""
Nowicka," Magdalena" and" Anna" Cieslik." 2014." “Beyond" Methodological" Nationalism" in" Insider"
Research"with"Migrants.”"Migration%Studies"2(1):"115."
O’Brien," Kevin" J.," and" Lianjiang" Li." 2005." “Popular" contention" and" its" impact" in" rural" China.”"
Comparative%Political%Studies"38(3):"23559."
Ortbals," Candice" D.," and" Meg" E." Rincker." 2009." “Fieldwork," Identities," and" Intersectionality:"
Negotiating"Gender,"Race," Class," Religion,"Nationality,"and" Age" in" the"Research"Field" Abroad:"
Editors’"Introduction.”"P.S.:%Political%Science%&%Politics"42(2):"28790."
Read,"Benjamin."2006."“Site-intensive"methods:"Fenno"and"Scott"in"search"of"coalition.”"Qualitative%&%
Multi-method%Research"4(2):"103."
"
37"
Ricks," Jacob" I.," and" Amy" H." Liu." 2018." “Process-Tracing" Research" Designs:" A" Practical" Guide.”" P.S.:%
Political%Science%&%Politics"51(4):"8426.""
Sarotte,"Mary"E."2012."“China’s"fear"of"contagion:"Tiananmen"Square"and"the"power"of"the"European"
example.”"International%Security"37(2):"15682."
Saunders," Benjamin," Jenny" Kitzinger," and" Celia" Kitzinger." 2015." “Anonymizing" interview" data:"
Challenges"and"compromise"in"practice.”%Qualitative%Research"15(5):"61632."
Schulz," Philipp" and" Anne-Kathrin" Kreft." 2021." “Researching" Conflict-Related" Sexual" Violence:" A"
Conversation" between" Early" Career" Researchers." International% Feminist% Journal% of% Politics."
Advance%online%access.%
Schwartz,"Stephanie"and"Kate"Cronin-Furman."2020."“Ill-Prepared:"International"Fieldwork"Methods"
Training"in"Political"Science”."Working%Paper."
Seawright," Jason." 2016." “Better" Multimethod" Design:" The" Promise" of" Integrative" Multimethod"
Research.”"Security%Studies"25(1):"429."
Skjelsbæk,"Inger."2018."“Silence"breakers"in"war"and"peace:"research"on"gender"and"violence"with"an"
ethics" of" engagement.”" Social% Politics:% International% Studies% in% Gender,% State% &% Society"25(4):"
496520."
Van" Baalen," Sebastian." 2018." “‘Google" Wants" to" Know" Your" Location’:" The" Ethical" Challenges" of"
Fieldwork"in"the"Digital"Age.”"Research%Ethics"14(4):"117.""
Weiss,"Meredith"L.,"Allen"Hicken,"and"Eric"Martinez"Kuhonta."2017."“Political"Science"Field"Research"
&" Ethics:" Introduction.”" The% American% Political% Science% Association-% Comparative%
Democratization%Newsletter"15(3):"35."
Weller,"Nicholas," and" Jeb"Barnes." 2016." “Pathway"analysis" and"the" search" for"causal"mechanisms.”"
Sociological%Methods%&%Research%45(3):"42457."
Williamson," Emma," Alison" Gregory," Hilary" Abrahams," Nadia" Aghtaie," Sarah-Jane" Walker," and"
Marianne"Hester."2020."“Secondary"Trauma:"Emotional"Safety"in"Sensitive" Research.”"Journal%
of%Academic%Ethics"18(1):"5570."
Willis," Charmaine." 2020." “Revealing" Hidden" Injustices:" The" Filipino" Struggle" against" U.S." Military"
Presence.”" Minds% of% the% Movement"(blog)." October" 27," 2020."https://www.nonviolent-
conflict.org/blog_post/revealing-hidden-injustices-the-filipino-struggle-against-u-s-military-
presence/."
Wood,"Elizabeth" Jean." 2006."“The" ethical" challenges" of" field"research" in" conflict"zones.”"Qualitative%
Sociology"29(3):"37386."
Zapata-Barrero,"Ricard" and"Evren"Yalaz"2019."“Qualitative"Migration"Research"Ethics:" Mapping"the"
Core"Challenges.”"GRITIM-UPF%Working%Paper%Series"No."42."
Zvobgo," Kelebogile." 2020." “Demanding" Truth:" The" Global" Transitional" Justice" Network" and" the"
Creation"of"Truth"Commissions.”"International%Studies%Quarterly%64(3):"60925."
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
March 2019. It was a brisk spring day in Toronto. We were having lunch in the crowded food court opposite the conference hotel. This was the first time that we had sat down and openly spoken about the toll that researching conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in the context of our PhD education has taken on our mental well-being. We both felt grateful for having had the opportunity to have this conversation with each other, as our exchange had helped both of us to better understand and situate the difficulties with which we had been grappling in the preceding months. With this piece, we want to extend that conversation, and hope to increase transparency about research processes and researchers’ mental well-being and to encourage more open, honest, and vulnerable exchanges between researchers working on sensitive issues....
Article
Full-text available
For many social science scholars, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-think our approaches to research. As a result of new social distancing measures, those of us who conduct in-person qualitative and ethnographic research have faced significant challenges in accessing the populations and fields we study. Technology served as an incredibly useful tool for social interaction and research prior to the pandemic, and it has since become even more important as a way to engage with others. Although not all types of social research, or even all projects, lend themselves to online activities, digital communication platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facebook have allowed many of us to continue our studies from a distance—in some cases, significant temporal and spatial distances away from our research sites. As such, it is important to consider how these different methodological approaches challenge our understandings of fieldwork. While the disadvantages of not physically accessing the places we study are clear, can mediated approaches offer (any) hope of the immersion we experienced with in-person fieldwork? If many of us are able to continue ethnographic research (in some form) without co-locating with our participants in our field sites, how are our studies fundamentally affected, as well as the ways we conceptualize the ‘field’ more largely? This paper explores these methodological and epistemological questions through reflections on conducting online research during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Article
Full-text available
Since 1970, scores of states have established truth commissions to document political violence. Despite their prevalence and potential consequence, the question of why commissions are adopted in some contexts, but not in others, is not well understood. Relatedly, little is known about why some commissions possess strong investigative powers while others do not. I argue that the answer to both questions lies with domestic and international civil society actors, who are connected by a global transitional justice (TJ) network and who share the burden of guiding commission adoption and design. I propose that commissions are more likely to be adopted where network members can leverage information and moral authority over governments. I also suggest that commissions are more likely to possess strong powers where international experts, who steward TJ best practices, advise governments. I evaluate these expectations by analyzing two datasets in the novel Varieties of Truth Commissions Project, interviews with representatives from international non-governmental organizations, interviews with Guatemalan non-governmental organization leaders, a focus group with Argentinian human rights advocates, and a focus group at the International Center for Transitional Justice. My results indicate that network members share the burden—domestic members are essential to commission adoption, while international members are important for strong commission design.
Article
Full-text available
This article contributes to the debates on positionality in migration studies by introducing assigned insider as a new category. I define it as a position when both the interviewees and the researcher are of the same local origin in which the researcher is considered ‘an insider of the host community’ and the interview questions are about a migrant group. I developed this category based on interviews with host community members during my field study in Bursa, Turkey, where I was born and raised. Previous studies focused on the researcher being an insider from a migrant community or being an outsider conducting research on a migrant community different from his/her own. Assigned insider has two elements that require it to be considered differently: same local origin operates as an overriding feature that goes beyond ethnicity and the interviewees being from the host community involves different ethical aspects than that from a migrant community. I argue that these reflect on the researcher during the interviews through active and passive discontent manifestations of the interviewees. While the former emphasises the direct confrontations of the interviewees that lead them to ‘correct’ the researcher, the latter manifests itself through non-verbal ways, which can result in refraining from answering questions.
Article
Researchers discuss the logistics of successful fieldwork but not the mental health considerations that fieldwork and the research process introduce. Successful fieldwork and fruitful academic careers hinge on acknowledging and managing our mental health. We discuss peer-support networks, secondary trauma, coping skills, therapy, and researchers’ mental health options before, during, and after fieldwork.
Chapter
In the past decade, increasing administrative interest in safety and ethics has drawn new actors into decision-making processes around fieldwork. This chapter argues that despite the resulting new administrative procedures, and unacknowledged by them, researchers are still fundamentally alone in most security-relevant decisions. This is neither surprising nor necessarily a bad thing, but calls for particular attention to the biases, expectations and pressures that researchers are under when making these decisions. From ‘Indiana Jones Researchers’ to ‘Career Risk-Takers’, this chapter identifies harmful discourses around risk and fieldwork in academia and makes suggestions for a healthier way forward.
Article
In international policy circles, conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is commonly viewed as a weapon of war, a framing that researchers have criticized as overly simplistic. Feminist scholars in particular caution that the ‘weapon of war’ framing decontextualizes sexual violence in conflict from the structural factors of gender inequality that underpin its perpetration. In light of these tensions, how do politically relevant local actors perceive the nature and the origins of conflict-related sexual violence? Civil society organizations often actively confront conflict-related sexual violence on the ground. A better understanding of how their perceptions of this violence align or clash with the globally dominant ‘weapon of war’ narratives therefore has important policy implications. Interviews with representatives of Colombian women's organizations and victims' associations reveal that these civil society activists predominantly view conflict-related sexual violence as the result of patriarchal structures. The mobilized women perceive sexual violence as a very gendered violence that exists on a continuum extending through peace, the everyday and war, and which the presence of arms exacerbates. Strategic sexual violence, too, is understood to ultimately have its basis in patriarchal structures. The findings expose a disconnect between the globally dominant ‘weapon of war’ understanding that is decontextualized from structural factors and a local approach to CRSV that establishes clear linkages to societal gender inequality.
Article
Most political scientists conduct and publish qualitative research, but what training in qualitative methods do political science doctoral programs offer? Do scholarly views converge on the proper content of such training? Analysis of methods curricula and syllabi from 25 leading US political science doctoral programs reveals a troubling gap: only 60% of top departments offer any dedicated graduate training in qualitative methods. Departments can remedy this disjuncture between scholarship and training by enhancing their basic qualitative methods curricula. Our research shows that scholars agree broadly on the content of such training, effective pedagogical practices, major alternatives for curriculum design, and a menu of focused topics. Graduate programs that aspire to train professionally competent qualitative and multi-method researchers now can orient their reform efforts on shared disciplinary standards for qualitative methods training.