The updated Fourth Edition of Rossman and Rallis’s popular introductory text leads the new researcher into the field by explaining the core concepts through theory, research, and applied examples. Woven into the chapters are three themes that are the heart of the book: first, research is about learning; second, research can and should be useful; and finally, a researcher should practice the highest ethical standards to ensure that a study is trustworthy. The Fourth Edition includes an elaborate discussion of systematic inquiry as well as a nuanced discussion of developing a conceptual framework.

Issues That Arise in the Field


Working in the field with real people with lives and commitments raises questions. These concerns or worries typically focus on preparing to gather data, getting comfortable in the setting, identifying and creating the data, doing fieldwork in another language, modifying the design as the project unfolds, systematically reflecting on the process, and deciding when to end the study. This chapter addresses these worries through posing eight questions that you may encounter while doing qualitative research:

  • How do I prepare to gather data?
  • How can I get comfortable in the field?
  • What are the data?
  • How do I turn sights, sounds, and objects into data?
  • Two languages: Which do I use?
  • How can I change my research plan?
  • What do I reflect on?
  • How do I ...
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