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Difficult Settings: Preparing for Fieldwork

Difficult Settings: Preparing for Fieldwork

Passionate scholars from the Faculty of Social Sciences of VU are organising a summer school to share their knowledge of the planning of fieldwork

Course description

Most qualitative research methods courses offer theoretical framework, research planning, data collection and analysis in one course within one semester. For Master and PhD students in earlier stages who will prepare and conduct qualitative fieldwork, many opportunities, challenges and potential risks are not discussed well enough. It is hardly mentioned and discussed in training and academic conferences so far. This relates for instance to finding and including respondents in your sample, but also dealing with time and delay, and even violence and other forms of sexual harassment, which are all issues that until now are hardly discussed in preparations. The most careful planning can mean little once the researcher encounters the real world.

In this course, by openly discussing specific issues, students have the liberty to make a choice in relation to each different situation. This course can bring to light the gap between textbook theory and methods in practice. Due to the short period of time for this course, we will focus on two qualitative research methods: in-depth interview and field observation through scenario-based training in each session. Each topic includes one specific scenario under provided contexts. In each scenario there are some awkward and worrisome situations, even sometimes risks, which students will have to cope with. Additionally, it seems that the global pandemic might stay with us for a while. So, this course will take this opportunity to also discuss how to deal with its impact on the data collection period, and therefore, it will also be a topic included in the session.

Our registration deadline has passed, it is no longer possible to apply. You can leave your contact details to be added to our summer 2023 newsletter. 

About this course

Course level

  • Master / Advanced

Course coördinator

  • Fiona Shan

Credits

  • 3 ECTS

Contact hours

  • 45

Language

  • English

Tuition fee

  • €650 - €1150

Additional course information

  • Learning Objectives

    By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

    • know how to cope with unexpected problems under difficult conditions.
    • be able to reflect on your positionality, including your interactions with participants and boundaries, as a researcher in the field.
    • understand how to better protect yourself as a researcher and your participants from potential negative effects.
    • learn how to be flexible in your recruitment strategies due to the limited contact with people in the field during the global pandemic.

    The list of themes and topics:

    • Safety, vulnerability and risks
    • Finance resources and opportunities to support your research
    • Pros and cons in relation to research with marginalized populations
    • Moral case deliberation to ethical dilemmas
    • Building close relationship and engaged scholars
    • Dealing with people in the conflict zones and intense emotional settings
    • The distrust among participants
    • Identifying and creating support networks
    • Innovative ways to keep long-term relations with participants (digitally) in for the longitudinal case

    Training:

    • Case study
    • Moral case deliberation
    • Self-reflection
    • Field observation exercise
    • A micro fieldwork exercise
  • Course schedule

    Classes will take place from Monday 4 July until Friday 15 July. In general classes will be during the week between 9am and 17pm (please take exceptions into account). Wednesday afternoons and weekends will be off for optional social activities or personal time. Good to be aware that self-study will be required in your private time (nights and weekends). Saturday 2 July and Saturday 16 July are arrival and departure days (in case you arrange accommodation via our housing service). More details will be shared in the course syllabus which will be shared with the participants in June. 

  • About the course coordinating

    Haiyue Shan (Fiona) is a PhD (c) in Sociology at the Vrije University Amsterdam. Her current PhD research aims to explore Chinese migrant mental health in the Netherlands, maternity care, postpartum depression, and ethnic minority's accessibility to health care. Her previous research experiences focused on suicide research and prevention and suicide notes analysis among youth in Hong Kong.

Team VU Amsterdam Summer School

We are here to help!

+31 20 59 86429

Skype: by appointment via amsterdamsummerschool@vu.nl

Contact

  • Bianca
  • Programme Coordinator
  • Celia
  • Summer and Winter School Officer
Celia VU Amsterdam Summer & Winter School
  • Helena
  • Summer and Winter School Support Assistant
Helena VU Amsterdam Summer and Winter School