Edited by Mélanie E. Hassett and Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki
Chapter 14: Planning data collection in longitudinal field research: small and not so small practical issues
Data collection is always a central task in any research project, but it becomes even more crucial in longitudinal field research because both the temporal dimension and the research setting may increase the impact of practical issues on the research outcome. Researchers should not neglect the practical side of their research endeavour if they want to minimize the difficulties of conducting fieldwork over a prolonged period of time. The realities of longitudinal field research and its day-to-day practicalities can become either opportunities or constraints. This chapter offers insights into the practical issues that need to be addressed in data collection for longitudinal field studies. In the sections to follow, we first provide examples of field studies employing a longitudinal perspective; next, we analyse the basic criteria actually influencing the choice of different data-gathering techniques. We then present a multi-method strategy to steer the data collection process in a longitudinal field study, and close with our suggestions. For the purpose of our subsequent discussion, we adopt a constructivist paradigm as described by Guba (1990). We share his perspective that knowledge is a human construction; such a view can be summarized according to the following basic types of questions: ontological, epistemological, axiological and methodological.
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