Fieldwork in Political Science: Encountering Challenges and Crafting Solutions: Introduction

Roselyn Hsueh, Temple University
Francesca Refsum Jensenius, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
Akasemi Newsome, University of California, Berkeley

Hands working on pottery wheelWhether the aim is to build theory or test hypotheses, junior and senior political scientists alike face problems collecting data in the field. Most field researchers have expectations of the challenges they will face, and also some training and preparation for addressing these challenges. Yet, in hindsight many wish they had been better prepared—both psychologically and logistically—for the difficulties they encountered. The central theme of this symposium is precisely these data collection problems political scientists face in the field and how to deal with them. The articles in this symposium are written by young scholars— PhD candidates and recent PhDs—who have spent considerable time in the field collecting qualitative and quantitative data for their dissertations and book manuscripts. The separate perspectives presented here contextualize particular challenges of data collection in different world regions within the trajectory of single research projects. The articles trace the challenges that analysts faced in field sites as varied as China, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. Describing the realities of fieldwork and resourceful strategies for dealing with them, this symposium sheds new light on several practical aspects of fieldwork in political science. The symposium also brings together scholars who used multiple research methods, thereby illuminating the difficulties encountered in political science fieldwork from diverse angles. For this reason, these vignettes are relevant to researchers focusing on both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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Fieldwork in Political Science: Encountering Challenges and Crafting Solutions: Introduction / PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 47 / Issue 02 / April 2014, pp 391-393