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

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

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

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H.J. Jackson

Jackson’s chapter explains how the custom of writing in books is, on the one hand, viewed as an act of defacement, while on the other, marginalia created historically by significant individuals is highly prized in the literary world and adds value. Using the example of marginalia created by John Adams, (1735–1826), the second President of the United States of America, the chapter shows how his extensive use of marginalia has provided future generations with an understanding of his views and political outlook than otherwise possible. The author argues that books were expensive during this period and passed around a wide circle of potential readers. Therefore, notes made in the margin by readers such as Adams were not intended to be private but planned in part as a way of providing a ‘public record of his life’ for future generations.

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

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Gabriele B. Durrant and Olga Maslovskaya

Durrant and Maslovskaya focus on the use of numerically-based paradata that are generated as a by-product of computer-assisted survey administration. The authors address nonresponse in social surveys that are administered face-to-face, via telephone or online and the insight that survey designers can gain from examining data on aspects such as call record data, interviewer observations and the length of question and answer sequences. This type of data has become relevant in understanding aspects of survey administration and thus feeds into the development of survey design. This, in turn can reduce costs and improve the quality of the data generated. Durrant and Maslovskaya use examples from their own research to demonstrate the use of paradata for interviewer-administered interviews. They end with practical suggestions for survey research design focused on understanding nonresponse, through statistical modelling based on paradata and working out which respondents to continue to follow up and when survey administrators should stop calling.

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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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William H. Sherman

Sherman draws attention to a divide amongst readers, alluded to in the title: ‘Soiled by use or enlivened by association’ – between those who believe a book should never be blemished by marginalia, pen and pencil markings on the text to those who are happy to write in the margins of the volumes they read and will actively seek out and purchase copies of books that have been annotated and marked by earlier readers. The chapter explores this breach between readers using examples of marked texts soiled by notes, marginalia and stains, and those who have a preference for unsullied volumes. Sherman ends his chapter by declaring his own preference for readers to continue the tradition of writing notes in the margins of books and to recognise the value of such markings to historians of the future.

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Daniel Kilburn

This chapter revisits Townsend’s Poverty in the UK 1967–8 study to look at how informants’ housing conditions were coded during the survey interviews. Kilburn makes use of the marginalia and notes that field interviewers made in spaces in the paper interview schedule. The chapter explores responses and comments in the margin to the question of whether or not respondents believed they had a serious housing problem. Often responses to this question were contested – inhabitants did not consider themselves to have a housing problem yet the marginalia reveal interviewers’ accounts of very poor quality housing and overcrowding, making living circumstances intolerable. Thus, it was only through the marginalia that the true extent of poor housing conditions, central to the study, were revealed.