Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes
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Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes

The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research

Edited by Rosalind Edwards, John Goodwin, Henrietta O’Connor and Ann Phoenix

This book asks the important question; Can the by-products of research activity be treated as data and of research interest in themselves? This groundbreaking interdisciplinary volume considers the analytic value of a range of ‘by-products’ of social research and reading. These include electronically captured paradata on survey administration, notes written in the margins of research documents and literary texts, and fieldnotes and ephemera produced by social researchers. Revealing the relational nature of paradata, marginalia and fieldnotes, contributions examine how the craft of studying and analysing these by-products offers insight into the intellectual, social and ethical processes underpinning the activities of research and reading.
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Chapter 4: ‘Another long and involved story’: narrative themes in the marginalia of the Poverty in the UK survey

Ann Phoenix, Janet Boddy, Rosalind Edwards and Heather Elliott


Phoenix, Boddy, Edwards and Elliott use historical material to explore the importance of marginalia drawing on Townsend’s renowned Poverty in the UK Study 1967/8 (PinUK). Rather than focusing on the extensive data collected by Townsend’s team in the original survey research Phoenix et al. explore the detailed handwritten notes on the paper questionnaires. The authors use 69 annotated questionnaires from the original study to develop a typology of marginalia. This consists of seven different categories that enabled them to analyse the comments made by the interviewers as amplifications, justifications and explanations of codes and evaluations of responses made by participants. They then use narrative analysis to reveal much about the research process and the ways in which the field interviewers positioned themselves in relation to their interviewees in the marginalia and as a way of making sense of research encounters.

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