The Field Diary is a digital open-access newsletter that highlights and promotes the human perspective of conducting fieldwork anywhere in the world by all groups working for companies, government, development/conservation/missionary NGOs, security, graduate students, and academia.
The first issue of the Field Diary brought together a collection of fieldwork-themed stories from many parts of the world including, Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and New Zealand. It is available here: http://www.real-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Field-Diary-issue-1.pdf
The Field Diary is now accepting submissions for a special issue titled
The Challenges Undisclosed: Reflecting on the Invisible Experiences of Doctoral Fieldwork.
The process of conducting fieldwork can be a defining experience for many an academic. PhD fieldwork provides unparalleled access to long periods steeping in new languages, landscapes, and perspectives. The independence, impartiality and freedom of doctoral research must be celebrated and sustained.
But along with the multitude of positives associated with fieldwork, the process is unpredictable. Perhaps the only certainty of fieldwork is that challenges will be encountered. Unfortunately the highly individualised, one might even say isolating nature of fieldwork, can act to compound the difficulty of navigating these hurdles.
While doctoral researchers begin programmes at varying levels of professional experience, and degrees of exposure to the field, many of us are rather green. Further fuelling the disorientation of unseasoned researchers is the increasing pressure to travel to relatively unchartered spaces – working with marginalised, or conflict-affected groups, or in geographies ignored by existing scholarship for doctoral fieldwork. Alternatively, doctoral students from international backgrounds may be faced with unique challenges when integrating into institutions of affiliation in foreign lands, challenges that may be exacerbated during fieldwork.
Academic institutions offer varying levels of formal guidance and preparation for students embarking on fieldwork. Some researchers may undertake risk assessments or ethical review processes which may (or may not) be helpful to them. However, such exercises are often foregone by those whose disciplinary associations or topics of study are not identified as overtly political or sensitive. While researchers working outside the social sciences may not be conducting extensive interviews or ethnographic work with communities, if it often the case that they encounter situations where it is necessary to consult with local government officials, or employ translators and field assistants. All of these kinds of relationships and exchanges that unfold during fieldwork deserve some level of consideration on the part of the researcher, and their institutions of affiliation. Even if no repeat visits to the field site are deemed necessary, it is a reality that once in the field all researchers are generally received as representatives of the research community leaving their legacy behind for others to encounter in their absence. We can all benefit from efforts to better understand the effects of field researcher on field site, and vice versa.
However institutional channels responsible for evaluating and responding to the field researcher are not infallible. Many institutions are challenged to address the needs of researchers and communities of engagement with conservative approaches that first and foremost protect reputations and hedge against liabilities.
Of course a one-size-fits all systematic and intensive fieldwork assessment process may not be desirable for all early-career researchers. We discourage putting limitations on the fieldwork process. Alternatively we seek to offer a platform for reflecting on safe and responsible fieldwork practices, and on how to navigate the unexpected hurdles we all encounter in the field. Anthropological researchers, along with others in the humanities have long been involved in debates regarding reflexivity, positionality and power dynamics, but we believe that an inter-disciplinary presentation of fieldwork experiences may provoke new insights.
This special issues aims to collate both positive and negative experiences of current PhD students, early-career researchers, and reflections from those who have long completed their doctoral research. We welcome pieces that explore the difficulties, be they personal, institutional, or practical, that arise during fieldwork, or after returning home. Anonymity will be upheld if preferred.
Submissions can be single authored or co-authored by researchers on overlapping projects. Photographs and webpage links are fully encouraged and can be used to advertise other aspects of your research work. In the first issue the dominant topics were fieldwork in Africa, but there is no geographic limitation – If you are interested in submitting a contribution and wish to discuss with the editors please feel free to propose your idea. The writing style should be personal and in the author’s voice. All languages are permitted and outside editing help will be requested for languages not mastered by the editing team.
Graphics, photos and artwork are encouraged, as are links to other online content.
We will produce an open-access online PDF copy where all contributors share copyright. We are also looking into ways of financing a limited print run for distribution at research institutes with limited online access.
- Author name(s) [or state ‘Anonymous’; ‘Anonymous et al.’]; current position(s); Affiliation(s); and corresponding author’s email.
Diary entry types:
A) ‘Field Diary entries’:
Though there is no specific length for submissions, words should not exceed 2,500.
Short communications of 500 words will be accepted for workshop, publications and conference summaries, as well as for book reviews, and outreach events.
All submissions can include a few photographs, maps, and figures, suitable for A4 pages. Figures must be submitted as JPEG, TIFF or CDR formats. And include captions and be referred to in the text. Figure numbering and labeling styles can be decided by the author but should be consistent throughout the article.
If there are any references, the citation and bibliographic style can be chosen by the author; yet, remain consistent in style.
Submission deadline for this special issue is November 31 2016. Submissions should include text with figures not embedded but sent as individual files with appropriate file names, example: Figure1.jpeg; Figure2.TIFF
Submissions of drafts and artwork:
Type ‘SPECIAL ISSUE SUBMISSION’ into the email subject and attach all files. Send to: email@example.com
Papers will be reviewed and suggested edits will need to be completed by the author(s) prior to compiling the final document. Authors will need to agree to a creative commons copyright licence.
Cover Photo Submissions:
Please send pictures for consideration for the front cover in a separate email and state the provenance [creator, location, date] of the photograph or graphic. Please include as a Hi-res image in an email attachment.
General queries regarding the Field Diary can be sent to the regular editors:Annemiek Pas Schrijver (U Stockholm),Geert van der Plas (U Gent),Colin Courtney Mustaphi (U York) at firstname.lastname@example.org.