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Qualitative Research Methods #10: Systematic Data Collectionby Susan C. Weller
Synopses & Reviews
Data collection in the field, whether by interviewing or other methods, can be carried out in a structured, systematic and scientific way. This volume compels field researchers to take very seriously not only what they hear, but what they ask. Ethnographers have often discovered too late that the value of their interview information is discounted as a consequence of poor sampling (of both questions and informants) and poor elicitation techniques.
The authors focus on the importance of establishing the right questions to ask through the use of free listing techniques; then they describe in practical terms the administration of an impressive array of alternative kinds of informant task. They conclude with a discussion of reliability and validity of various methods which can be used to generate more systematic, culturally meaningful data.
The process of collecting accurate data through interviewing, questionnaires, and other methods has not always been clear. However, data collection in field settings can be done in a structured, systematic and scientific way. These authors show us how. First, they focus on the importance of finding the right questions to ask. By providing a variety of formats - triadic comparisons and rating scales for data collection, both oral and written methods - and stressing cultural relativity, Weller and Romney suggest ways to improve not only the data collected, but also the interpretation and analysis of such data. Primarily addressed to qualitative social scientists, this volume is also appropriate for anyone who wants to study attitudes and beliefs. In particular, it is an ideal text for courses in anthropology, linguistics, qualitative research methods, health care, and survey research.
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