Field Notes

Field notes, which are based on observation in one’s research setting, allow researchers to see and record, firsthand, the activities in which research participants are engaged in the contexts of these activities. Observation is often used as a method of data triangulation—meaning the use of multiple data sources to achieve a range of contextual data—because the validity of self-reporting (such as in interviews and focus groups) often comes into question; therefore, observational field notes—how observations become data—validate information garnered from focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, and other methods of data collection. This entry examines three basic types of field notes, the importance of and skills required for recording field notes, and the sequential process of writing field notes.

Depending on a study’s specific methodological frame and how ...

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