Dealing with (Un)Expected in Qualitative Research Field-Work

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:06
Oral Presentation
Inga GAIZAUSKAITE, Institute of Sociology at Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Lithuania
Natalija VALAVICIENE, Mykolas Romeris University / National Examination Centre, Lithuania
Qualitative research aims at delving deeply into subjective perspectives of research participants, their life practices, biographies, and surrounding social contexts. Therefore, in qualitative field-work a researcher needs developing ability to build rapport with research participants, keeping balance between scientific aims and human sensitivity, and being able to open up for realities of participants.

Field-work is probably the most interesting and challenging step within qualitative research process due to its unpredictability, regardless of the level of methodological preparedness. Indeed, there is a vast methodological literature and teaching about the philosophical and methodological grounds of qualitative research as well as guidelines how to properly conduct it to best correspond to the core presumptions of qualitative approach. However, it is also clear that often things do not happen “by a book” in qualitative field-work and there is always an element of (un)expected (when even a well thought-of plan is hindered by strangest circumstances). Moreover, such experiences are rarely reflected in methodology literature as well as in descriptions of researches in articles or research reports. Though this to be an area in research practice that should be more often revealed and discussed.

The presentation attempts making development in this regard. Based on experiences in field-work of qualitative interviewing authors present unexpected situations which corrected initial research plans and which caused consideration of solutions or dilemmas not reflected in the literature. What happens extra when collecting data? How far can the reality get away from the scheduled plan? How to negotiate recruitment when prepared reasoning does not work on potential participants? How to deal with psychologically intense situations, which could not be foreseen? How much improvisation may be required to conduct interview of high quality? What safety of researcher issues may emerge? The presentation provides real-experience based cases and urgent solutions made in the field.