Short Course: Designing and Conducting Field Research (QMMR 1)

Designing and Conducting Field Research (QMMR 1)

Half Day AM (9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

Fieldwork can be both daunting and exhilarating. Scholars generally learn it by doing it, yet there is much value in reflecting on the practices of veteran field researchers and talking through each other’s experiences. This course provides high-impact concepts, tips, and guidelines that participants can adapt and apply in their own research. It is based on the premise that designing research, collecting data, and analyzing data are overlapping and inter-dependent processes that begin before a scholar enters the field, continue while she is there, and extend beyond her return. Our approach to fieldwork is relevant to those using qualitative techniques (we give special attention to interviewing, which is near-ubiquitous among political scientists) as well as quantitative techniques such as surveys and experiments, and assume that many scholars will use multiple methods.

Throughout, we provide strategies to help anticipate and address challenges such as:

(1) converting a research design into a “to get” list;

(2) accessing elusive data and data sources;

(3) evaluating data’s evidentiary value;

(4) organizing and managing data; and

5) analyzing data both in and out of the field.

Although fieldwork is usually associated with “studying politics abroad,” we discuss techniques that may be applied inside and outside the U.S. The course includes lecture, Q/A, and small-group components. Participants will also be directed to useful document templates, such as spreadsheets for organizing fieldwork, sample correspondence, etc. The course is valuable for students planning dissertation projects, for scholars who would like to develop or improve their fieldwork skills, and for those who teach classes on research methods.

**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 30 at the APSA 2017 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA.**