To introduce students to observation, a method used in many of the qualitative research traditions.

  • To introduce students to observation, a method used in many of the qualitative research traditions.
  • To assist students in gaining skills in connecting observations to theory and in research problem/question formulation.


  • Students must
    • Define a ‘research problem’ that you will seek to understand through observation
    • Conduct an observation (detached) for 30 minutes to one hour IN A PUBLIC PLACE where people can expect that they can be observed by others and provide your typed fieldnotes
    • Explain how you have used strategies outlined in the texts for taking fieldnotes
    • You must also reflect upon the ethics of conducting observation of others as discussed in class and in the Miller text as detailed below.

Your paper should cover three areas:-

  • A brief definition of the problem or issue you want to research. Often and easiest, this is done by way of a question, e.g., “What are the shopping patterns of men in shopping malls?” or “How do people treat homeless persons in street encounters?” These are just examples, and you can come up with your own. This should be a paragraph and no more than one page long.
  • Your typed field notes from 30 minutes to one hour of observation. The length of the field notes are at your discretion, i.e., they are your notes.
  • A discussion of the strategies you used for entry to the field, access, your positioning (as a detached observer), and how you handled the recording of your notes. You will also need to discuss ethics, issues of representation, and your legitimacy in so far as you will be analyzing and presenting your research outcomes to the world. These can include but are not limited to: Why do you think your observations should be considered a valid representation of what is going on? Would the people you observe understand themselves in the same way as you would? Do you have the right to be writing about them etc? All these discussions should be linked to your reading of the Miller texts. Be sure to reference where in the texts these issues are discussed. The analysis should be approximately 5 pages, double spaced, 12-point font Times New Roman, Word format.
  • Required Texts for this Qualitative Paper:
    Cooper & Finley, Peace and Conflict Studies Research: A Qualitative Perspective
    ISBN: 9781623966911
    Willis, Jerry W. (2007). Foundations of Qualitative Research: Interpretive and
    Critical Approaches. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Robert K. Yin (2018) Case Study Research Design and Methods(Fifth Edition)
    London, SAGE Publications, Inc ISBN 9781452242569
    Miller, Birch, Mauthner & Jessop (eds) (2012). Ethics in Qualitative Research.
    London: SAGE Publications.
    Felice D. Billups, Qualitative Data Collection Tools: Design, Development, and
    Applications ISBN: 9781544334820 SAGE Publications
    For the analysis paper, borrow or buy Phillipe Bourgois (1995). In Search of
    Respect. Cambridge University Press. Since it is only for the paper, it would be best
    to borrow it and it is available in most libraries.

To introduce students to observation, a method used in many of the qualitative research traditions.

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