WISERD Qualitative Researcher, 14 pp 1
It has become somewhat of a truism that qualitative research, and particularly fieldwork, cannot be taught but is best learnt in practice, out there, in the field. This can likely be traced to the early days of the Chicago School where students were sent out to study a tract of the census, or neighbourhood, at almost the outset of the course. This, of course, does not mean that the students were not instructed
and ‘taught’, just that the priorities were of a somewhat different order than that suggested by the recent proliferation of ‘methods’ textbooks, courses, and workshops. This corpus, at least, suggests a belief that good practice in qualitative methods and fieldwork can, at least, be documented and communicated and that doing so is a worthwhile endeavour. There is, however, something to be said
for the argument that no amount of reading the classics nor attending methods workshops can really prepare you for undertaking your first independent piece of qualitative research. The challenges are many; from the first slightly awkward arrival at the field site, through managing the many, often sensitive, relationships you enter in to, to wondering what to do with all those data and the craft of writing up.