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Field notes are the notes researchers take in the field. These are researcher’s written account of what they hear, see, experience, and think in the course of collecting and reflecting on their data. According to Bogdan and Biklen there are two kinds of materials for field notes: 1. Descriptive and 2. Reflective. Descriptive field notes: They attempt to describe the setting, the people and what they do according to what the researcher observes. While Reflective field notes: They present more of what the researcher himself or herself is thinking about as he or she observes. Thus reflective aspect of field notes is the researcher’s way of attempting to control for the danger of observer effect and remember to do research well, we need to do ongoing evaluation and judgment. Validity and reliability in qualitative research: In a qualitative study, much depends on the perspective of the researcher. All researchers (like many of us) have certain biases. Since different researchers see some things more clearly than others do. Qualitative researchers use a number of techniques to check their perceptions in order to ensure that they are not being misinformed. These procedures for checking on or enhancing validity and reliability include the following: - Using a variety of instruments to collect their data. When a conclusion is supported by data collected from a number of different instruments, its validity is thereby enhanced. This kind is often referred to as triangulation. - Checking one informant’s descriptions of something (a way of doing things or a reason for doing something) against another informant’s description of that same thing. The difference can be as a result of different viewpoints or perception. 57
- Learning to understand and, where appropriate, speak vocabulary of the group being studied. - Writing down the questions they ask (in addition to the answers they receive to these questions). This helps researchers make sense at latter date out of answers recorded earlier. - Documenting the sources of remarks whenever possible and appropriate. This helps to make sense out of comments, which might seem misplaced. - Using audiotapes and videotapes when possible and appropriate. - Interviewing individuals more than once. Inconsistencies over time in what the same individual reports may suggest that he or she is unreliable informant. Uses of audiotapes and videotapes: An observer may miss what goes on especially if there are several behaviour occurring rapidly or the researcher may want to have someone else (such as an expert in the area) offer his or her insights about what was happening. To overcome these obstacles or to ensure he/she get expert opinion, the researcher may use audiotapes or videotapes to record their observations.