Sociology 2206A/B Chapter Notes -Serendipity, Thick Description, Audit Trail

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Published on 16 Apr 2013
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Ch. 13 continued from notebook
Appearance of interest: researcher appears to be interested in and involved
with field events by statements and behaviours even if they are not truly
interested
Selective inattention: gives an alert researcher an opportunity to learn by
casually eavesdropping on conversations or observing events that might not
be public
Observing: researchers need to learn how to notice what others overlook
o Records many details, better to err on side of caution
o Notes: Physical appearance; presentation of self; behaviour; context;
serendipity; wait time
Field notes: nearly impossible to take good notes in the field; if looking down,
cant see what is happening, attention is taken away from the field; the
specific setting determines whether any notes can be taken in the field
o Jotted Notes: written in field; short, temporary, memory triggering
words and phrases; incorporated into Direct Observation Notes
o Direct Observation Notes: basic sources of field data, the ones that are
written immediately after leaving the field, can be added to later
(observations without inferences); serve as a detailed description of
what the researcher saw or heard in concrete, specific terms; a
researcher includes what was actually said and does not clean it up
(slang); puts concrete details, not summaries, in notes; who, what,
when, where, and what circumstances
o Researcher Inference Notes: to walk in field member’s shoes. 3
steps listen without applying analytical categories; compare what
was heard to what was heard at other times and what others say;
applies own interpretation to infer what it means; looks and listens
without making inferences until the end. Observations without
inferences go into direct observation notes
o Analytic Notes: where methodological ideas are kept, to record their
plans, tactics, decisions and self critique; have a running account of a
researcher’s attempt to give meanings to field events; thinks out loud
in these notes, and suggests ideas, creates hypotheses, develops new
concepts
Analytical memos= systematic digressions into theory where
researcher elaborates on ideas in depth; expands on ideas
while still in the field & modifies complex theory
o Personal notes: provide outlet for researcher & a way to cope with
stress; source of data about personal reactions; gives a way to
evaluate direct observation
Maps and Diagrams: helps organize events, and convey field site to others
o Spatial map- orients data, show where activities occur in physical
space; social map- # and variety of people+ arrangements among
them; temporal map- flow of ppl/goods/services/communications
Machine recordings to supplement memory: cannot be introduced into all
field sites, and can only be used after rapport is developed; can create
disruption and increase awareness of surveillance; time consuming; don’t
always convey contextual meaning
Data Quality
o Trustworthiness of data: quantitative techniques are not directly applicable;
alternative criteria by which qualitative studies can be assessed= credibility,
confirmability, dependability, and transferability
o Credibility (validity): how much truth value the results of our study have
o Member checking: ask members of the group if they agree with our
interpretation
o Prolonged engagement: researcher stays in the field long enough to
make informed conclusions and interpretations; through this, will be
exposed to different settings and develop rapport with members
o Negative case analysis: involves identifying data/cases that differ
from the general pattern of findings and trying to explain these
contradictory cases
o Transferability (external validity/generalizability): extent to which
findings can be applied to other contexts; can be established through Thick
Description (very detailed accounts of study)
o Dependability (reliability): how consistent our results would be if our
study was repeated under similar conditions; established through External
Audit (having research material examined by an external evaluator to see if
the same conclusions are drawn)
o Confirmability: trustworthiness of confirmability concerns the extent to
which the research is neutral and not a product of researchers biases or
motivations; established through external audit; a researcher should be
transparent about his techniques;
o Audit trail: process of transparent record keeping (establishes
confirmability)
o Reflexivity: being self-aware of the researcher’s role in process of
knowledge construction (established confirmability)
o Researcher need be aware how they may influence the behaviour of
the group and alert to their own biases that may influence
interpretation
o Focusing- after getting a general picture, focus on a few issues; develops
hypothesis after being in the field
o Sampling- non-probability and snowballing; samples Routine events, Special
events, and Unanticipated events
o Leaving the Field:
o Can leave quick or slowly withdraw; needs to decide how much
warning to give members and how to tell them; depends on setting
and relationships involved; maintaining friendships with members is
possible

Document Summary

Appearance of interest: researcher appears to be interested in and involved with field events by statements and behaviours even if they are not truly interested. Selective inattention: gives an alert researcher an opportunity to learn by casually eavesdropping on conversations or observing events that might not be public. Observing: researchers need to learn how to notice what others overlook: records many details, better to err on side of caution, notes: physical appearance; presentation of self; behaviour; context; serendipity; wait time. 3 steps listen without applying analytical categories; compare what was heard to what was heard at other times and what others say; applies own interpretation to infer what it means; looks and listens without making inferences until the end. Machine recordings to supplement memory: cannot be introduced into all field sites, and can only be used after rapport is developed; can create disruption and increase awareness of surveillance; time consuming; don"t always convey contextual meaning.