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William G. Tierney and Randall F. Clemens

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Zoë B. Corwin and Randall F. Clemens

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Randall F. Clemens and William G. Tierney

Life history has experienced a renaissance as researchers acknowledge the method’s flexibility and usefulness. The popularity, along with the proliferation, of new narrative-based methods has corresponded with researchers’ willingness to engage with multiplex epistemological and methodological issues like voice, power, reflexivity and subjectivity. The chapter, as a result, provides an introduction to life history. It focuses on four interrelated stages of research: design, collection, analysis, and presentation. Based on developments since first authoring the chapter, for this updated edition, the authors emphasize the significant role of life history to portray the lives and narratives of individuals situated within complex, ever-shifting contexts. They highlight the method’s role in illuminating and, ultimately, contesting inequitable social, economic, institutional and political forces.

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Zoë B. Corwin and Randall F. Clemens

Fieldnotes serve as a critical tool in documenting social life. This chapter begins by defining fieldnotes and exploring their utility, including their role in enhancing the trustworthiness of a research study. Using a combination of theory, concrete examples drawn from a large-scale study of college access programs, and practical lists, the authors build a case for creating high-quality fieldnotes and for their importance in the analytic process.