Difficult Settings - Preparing for Fieldwork

Note: registrations for this course are closed

In this winter course, the lecturers speak about the difficulties and concerns that they have encountered in their various fields of research. By openly discussing specific issues, students have the liberty to make a choice regarding the different situations. This course brings to light the gap between textbook theory and methods in practice. The topics discussed in this unique course are not (yet) widely discussed in training and conference. Currently no available course provides this type of training. 

Course days11-15 January 2021 - registrations for this course are closed
Course levelMaster, PhD candidates and professionals from all disciplines 
Coordinating lecturerHaiyue Shan (Fiona)
Other lecturersLise Woensdregt, Dr. Marina de Regt, Suzanne Verhoog, Rosanne Marrit Anholt (all from FSS, VU)
Forms of tuitionLectures, interactive workshops including role-plays 
Forms of assignmentWritten assignment
Credits2 ECTS
Contact hours20 hours
Tuition feeRead all information about our tuition fees and what's included here  
How to applyFind our application form here 
The course is intended for the master’s level and PhD students who have knowledge of qualitative research in social science and have interests in interdisciplinary studies, focusing on practical issues that researchers will face in the field. The candidates should be able to design their qualitative research (short proposal in a specific research question). If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please contact us: [email protected]
In this winter course, the lecturers speak about the difficulties and concerns that they have encountered in their various fields of research. By openly discussing specific issues, students have the liberty to make a choice regarding the different situations. This course brings to light the gap between  textbook theory and methods in practice. Due to the short period of time in this winter course, it focuses on two qualitative research methods: an in-depth interview and field observation through scenario-based training. Each topic includes one specific scenario under fixed contexts. There are some awkward and worrisome situations, sometimes risks, in each scenario for students to cope with. Topics such as the researchers’ personal involvement and their influence in the field will be discussed thoroughly. 

  • The researcher as its own main research method; Preparing for fieldwork. 
  • Observation in the field: what to observe; everything around you is the data as well as how to choose your own position and influence in data collection.
  • The relationship between the researcher & participants: an in-depth interview about sensitive and private topics and participants with a history of mental health issues. 
  • Ethics in the fields: rewards; what can we offer when participants ask more than we can/should offer.
  • Recruitment strategy: possible ways to advertise your research and increase your recruitment rate.
  • Dealing with uncertainty: fieldwork and data collection happens in the real world, which requires you to adapt to other people, systems, etc. This can cause feelings of insecurity and anxiety. How to deal with this?
  • Challenges and how to keep flexibility during coronavirus global pandemic: discussion about social distancing’s impact in the field, risk management, and how the researcher can adapt to the new condition.
  • Vulnerability in the field: As a researcher, you’re in a vulnerable position. You might be in a place you’re not familiar with, while at the same time you feel you need to go as much ‘native’ as possible. This leads to a lot of interesting and fun moments, but also to vulnerability as a researcher and how to deal with this situation.  

  • To provide you a broader impression and view of fieldwork, especially in difficult environments and situations.
  • To understand the complex situation in the field.
  • To know how to cope with unexpected problems under difficult conditions.
  • To be able to reflect on your positionality, including your interactions with participants and boundaries, as a researcher in the field.
  • To enhance the capability of carrying out qualitative research in practice.

Shaw photo
Haiyue Shan
(Fiona), joined Sociology FSW as a PhD candidate in late 2018. Shan’s current project aims at migrant health, maternity care, postpartum depression, Chinese migrants and ethnic minority’s accessibility to health care. Her previous research experiences focus on suicide research and prevention among youth in Hong Kong.

Reg

Marina de Regt is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Her research focuses on gender, labour and migration, in particular in Yemen and Ethiopia. She has also written about the ways in which the war in Yemen has affected her relationships with friends.

Susanne Verhoog

Suzanne Verhoog is a lecturer and PhD researcher at the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Her PhD study focuses on the role and impact of intermediary elite brokers in land grabbing practices in Romania. Her research interests are related to current and future challenges in the climate-food-energy nexus.

Anholt

Rosanne Anholt is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Her PhD research is about resilience discourses in European Union policy for security, humanitarian aid and development assistance and resilience-building practices in the context of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.