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A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork
David J. Danelo
Field research—the collection of information outside a lab or workplace setting—requires skills and knowledge not typically taught in the classroom. Fieldwork demands exploratory inquisitiveness, empathy to encourage interviewees to trust the researcher, and sufficient aptitude to work professionally and return home safely. The Field Researcher’s Handbook provides a practical guide to planning and executing fieldwork and presenting the results.
Based on his experience conducting field research in more than fifty countries and teaching others a holistic approach to field research, David J. Danelo introduces the skills new researchers will need in the field, including anthropology, travel logistics planning, body language recognition, interview preparation, storytelling, network development, and situational awareness. His time as a combat veteran in the US Marine Corps further enhances his knowledge of how to be observant and operate safely in any environment. Danelo also discusses ethical considerations and how to recognize personal biases. This handbook is intended for researchers in a variety of academic disciplines but also for government, think-tank, and private-sector researchers.
Introduction: What is Field Research?
Part I: Research Preparation
1. Framing the "Other"
2. Developing Your Research Style
3. Improving Situational Awareness
Part II: The Field
4. Logistics and Networking
5. On the Ground
6. The Interview
Part III: Finishing Touches
7. Objectivity Is a Myth
8. Telling the Story
9. Coming Home
Appendix A. Sample Research Proposal and Travel Budget
Appendix B. Field Research Itinerary Sample Template
About the Author
"In a world dominated by electronic connectivity, there is the illusion of knowledge about foreign places that does not actually exist. Google searches about a place are simply not the same as going there, interviewing people, and observing how the society on the ground functions and does not function. I will always trust an experienced field researcher more than any electronic document and this book is vital for training the next generation of researchers. The only way we will really know about the world is by seeing it first-hand through the eyes of trained observers."—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography
"David Danelo has produced an insightful, step-by-step guide to professional fieldwork that artfully underscores the importance of the craft. His message, that going is an essential part of knowing, couldn’t be more timely in a digital age when it’s all too easy to confuse what we see on a screen, secondhand, with the way the world really works."—Tracy Dahlby, professor of journalism, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook
"In an age where facts and data are often misrepresented, Danelo’s detailed account about how to conduct research is written for people who are seeking the ability to uncover facts and identify truths on their own. Using processes that have proven to be timeless and apply beyond the realm of field research, this book unlocks a methodology for those seeking to learn how to learn new skills and adapt in the future. This book empowers readers with a clear path forward in their pursuit of knowledge."—Patrick Van Horne, co-author of Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, The CP Journal
"The irrelevance of academic pursuits is, in part, driven by the unwillingness and inability of scholars to do difficult field research. We have studies from 30,000 feet and higher, but what we need is more knowledge of how real individuals operate in real villages, tribes, mountain valleys, and city neighborhoods. Field research training teaches necessary skills for academics interested in field research on the frontier of political order."—Jakub J. Grygiel, George H. W. Bush Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
"David Danelo is an extraordinary field researcher who has lived in the world about which he writes so eloquently. I strongly endorse his approach and research, which will contribute to knowing the world, something for which we strive at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy."—James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), Dean of The Fletcher School and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
"This guide … provides a much needed ‘how-to’ approach in qualitative research, with practical advice on how to prepare for and carry out fieldwork."—International Studies Review
David J. Danelo is the Director of Field Research for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at El Paso’s National Security Studies Institute. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and served seven years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. Since leaving active duty, Danelo has served as a senior US government policy executive, written three books including The Return: A Field Manual for Life after Combat, and has conducted field research in over fifty countries.
144 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
144 pp., 5.5 x 8.5