Ezgi Irgil, Anne-Kathrin Kreft, Myunghee Lee, Charmaine N Willis, Kelebogile Zvobgo (2021) Field Research: A Graduate Student’s Guide. International Studies Review 23 (4): 1495–1517. (Article)
What is field research? Is it just for qualitative scholars? Must it be done in a foreign country? How much time in the field is “enough”? A lack of disciplinary consensus on what constitutes “field research” or “fieldwork” has left graduate students in political science underinformed and thus underequipped to leverage site-intensive research to address issues of interest and urgency across the subfields. Uneven training in Ph.D. programs has also left early-career researchers underprepared for the logistics of fieldwork, from developing networks and effective sampling strategies to building respondents’ trust, and related issues of funding, physical safety, mental health, research ethics, and crisis response. Based on the experience of five junior scholars, this paper offers answers to questions that graduate students puzzle over, often without the benefit of others’ “lessons learned.” This practical guide engages theory and praxis, in support of an epistemologically and methodologically pluralistic discipline.