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 6: The secondary analysis of fieldnotes, marginalia and paradata from past studies of young peopleinstability

Henrietta O’Connor and John Goodwin


O’Connor and Goodwin use a range of by-products from three different research projects to show that marginalia, fieldnotes and ephemera are of great value to the secondary analyst and help to shed light on research from the past. From extensive descriptive fieldnotes from Norbert Elias’s 1960s project on youth employment, the authors gain insights into the lives of young people in Leicester in the 1960s. Following on from this they turn to Pearl Jephcott’s study from the 1980s where again it is through additional notes in the margin and amplifications to the coded data, that the experience of school leavers in the 1980s comes to life. Last they turn to materials often stored in archives such as letters, photographs and research notebooks, to show how they provide invaluable contextual information for researchers.

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