Conference on Fieldwork to Analyze Challenges of Transparency in Complicated Circumstances

The conference on “Conducting Fieldwork under Complicated Circumstance,” organized by two graduate students at the University of New Mexico (Anna Calasanti and Fiorella Vera-Adrianzénwill involve faculty, students, and other practitioners in two days of dialogue about strategies and techniques to manage ethical, logistical, and personal security issues during fieldwork. Check out the conference website here. Topics to be discussed include:



  • Risk of revictimization/ retraumatization of research participants
  • Instrumentalization of research participants
  • Externalities (i.e. risks and benefits) of participation in fieldwork activities
  • Disruption or transgression/violation of cultural norms
  • Pros and cons of cultural embedding, building trust and personal relationships with participants
  • Giving back to the community: why and how should we give back to the community? What are some of the constraints, benefits and risks when doing so? What are some appropriate ways to do it?
  • Mediator role among parties that are in conflict in the field: Shuttle diplomacy
  • Intervening to help research participants (directly or indirectly)
  • Confidentiality and privacy of research participants’ responses: how to secure this at all times, especially when methods imply a bigger audience (i.e. focus groups)? Are there any cases in which these principles can be overlooked? What should be done under those circumstances?
  • DA-RT (Data Access and Research Transparency): pros and cons
  • Identity of the researcher
  • Perceptions about researcher: What kind of impression do we give social actors about us, as researchers, as representatives of academic institutions or of disciplinary fields?

Logistical / Practical

  • Developing efficient and realistic itineraries/ traveling plans
  • Traveling across mountainous terrain, difficult geographical features, conflict zones
  • Organization of collected data; in particular qualitative data
  • Collection and processing/analysis of data while in the field: sequential or parallel tasks?
  • Measures to safely store collected data
  • Reporting to and communicating with advisors, mentors, peers
  • Cost-effective and safe plans for lodging and meals
  • Language and cultural barriers


  • Physical safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Emotional/psychological safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Dealing with secondary trauma
  • Safety of informants and research assistants


Open letter to British Medical Journal on need to publish more qualitative research

Seventy-six scholars pen an open letter to the British Medical Journal arguing that papers based on qualitative data should not be considered “low priority,” as is common practice across medical journals. “Few research topics in clinical decision making and patient care can be sufficiently understood through quantitative research alone.” Therefore, the BMJ should “develop and publish a formal policy on qualitative and mixed method research…[which] should include appropriate and explicit criteria for judging the relevance of submissions.” They conclude, “We believe it is time for a prospective study to assess whether the BMJ can come to value and be proud of qualitative research as part of its mission to lead the debate on health, inform clinical decision making, and improve outcomes for patients.”

New essay by Jeff Isaac asks: Is more deliberation about DA-RT a good thing?

In a new post on The Plot, Isaac asks: “why have so many of us bought into the idea that right now data access and research transparency –a “problem” constructed by DA-RT– is the most pressing challenge facing political science publishing and indeed, in terms of time and energy, the most pressing challenge facing political science?” He questions why we are talking about DA-RT at all, when we could be talking about other more important matters facing social science and the world.

APSR posts guidelines on transparency, human subjects protection, and qualitative data

In a new post, APSR editors respond to a set of questions about how they expect to apply standards of research transparency and data access in cases involving IRB requirements for human subject protection, articles based on archival material, ethnography, and other qualitative evidence, and other circumstances.