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Competency 1

Competency 1

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Published by: Jucip Hitgano Natividad on Jan 14, 2012
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07/28/2014

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According to Neutens and Rubinson (1997), field notes form the most important

part of data collection in qualitative research. They cover anything and everything the

researcher believes is important. Descriptions form the basis of field notes. They are used

to capture quotations; the thoughts, feelings, and hunches of the researcher; and an

evolving interpretation as to the meaning or significance of events. Polit and Hungler

(1999) assert that the success of studies using participant observation is dependent upon

the quality of the logs and field notes.

Polit and Hungler (1999) suggest that researchers use the following types of field

notes. Methodological notes detail the planning and completion details of the research

project. Observational notes provide a record of what the researcher saw and heard.

Theoretical notes are the “self-conscious, controlled attempts to derive meaning from any

one or several observation notes” (p. 184). A summary of field notes helps to establish

links between items and can serve to highlight themes. Polit and Hungler add a fourth

category: personal notes, which are for capturing the researcher’s feelings.

Sorting out qualitative data from field notes is more art than science. Guba and

Lincoln (1981) suggest sorting at least three times, looking for common themes, special

themes, and themes of a theoretical nature that enable researchers to establish their own

constructs.

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