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Disasters in Field Research


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Table of Contents

List of Boxes and Figures 1-Introduction 2-Oh, the Permission, Permits, and Approvals You Will Need: Research Permissions Permissions to Study the Living Permission to do Research in Host Country: Visas Permissions from Host Country Institutions Permission from the Local Community And . . . Consent from the Subjects Themselves Even Research on Inanimate Objects Requires Permits Permits, Permits, and More Permits Suggestions and Strategies 3-"And you may ask yourself-Well . . . how did I get here?": Fieldwork Logistics Permission to Enter the Country Getting to the Field Destination Local Transport Money Where Do You Stay? Communications Transporting Equipment and Data to and from the Field Suggestions and Strategies 4-My Equipment Is Possessed and the Dog Ate My Notebook: Managing Equipment and Data Is the Equipment "Field Friendly"? Recording Data in the Field Good to Know Before You Go Keeping Everything Working Suggestions and Strategies 5-Where Have They All Gone?: Participant Recruitment and Retention Sampling Habituation of Animal Subjects Recruitment of Human Participants Gatekeepers Local Insights Politics and History Retention of Subjects Suggestions and Strategies 6-I'm Not a Witch: Cultural Misunderstandings in the Field Language Cultural Norms Suspicions of Outsiders or Government Research Misunderstandings Sensitive Topics Gender Issues Differing Expectations of Researcher and Subjects Avoiding Cultural Mishaps Suggestions and Strategies 7-I'm in the Middle of a War Zone: Safety and Security The Fluid Nature of Risk Theft and Interpersonal Violence Fieldwork in Conflict Zones and Other Dangerous Places Perceptions and Suspicions Why Work in Dangerous Places? Suggestions and Strategies 8-What Do I Do When Struck by Lightning? Maintaining Health in the Field Why Be Concerned about Your Health? Travelers' Diarrhea Febrile Illness Vector-Borne Infections Other Infectious Diseases The Exotics Skin Problems Health Risks: Large Fauna Health Risks: Human-Induced Accidents/Injuries Health Risks: Environmental Mental Health in the Field The Problems You Bring with You Suggestions and Strategies 9-Is Fieldwork for Me?: Assessing Your Inclination for Fieldwork An Interest in Travel and Adventure Grit Tolerance of Ambiguity Being OK with Being Away Ability to Accept the Way Things Are Family Intellectual Challenges and Satisfactions Camping-Literally and Figuratively Food Going Alone or Taking a Team How Long Do I Keep Working? Suggestions and Strategies Index About the Authors

About the Author

Gillian H. Ice is associate professor of social medicine and director of global health at Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Health Sciences and Professions. Darna L. Dufour is professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Nancy J. Stevens is professor of functional morphology and vertebrate paleontology at Ohio University.


Highly engaging [and] accessible to a broad range of readers with varying degrees of fieldwork expertise. Disasters in Field Research is an indispensable primer. . . .[It sheds] light on aspects of field research that are often only discussed through anecdotes or private conversations between advisor and advisee. . . .While the target audience for the text is professional scientists, graduate, and undergraduate students, the demographic that would benefit most from this book are students in field methods courses across a range of disciplines and early-career field workers. Disasters in Field Research may also serve as an indispensable tool to guide and organize feasible and logistically-sound research proposals and would therefore make an excellent required text for courses geared toward grant writing. . . .Even the most seasoned field research can appreciate the book's overarching sentiment that even though one can never be fully prepared for the challenges they will encounter in the field, there is virtue in being flexible, patient, having a sense of humor, and expecting the unexpected. * American Journal of Human Biology *
The topics are well chosen. The chapters are down to-earth and practical. There are dozens of useful tips on each topic. The advice is leavened with about 50 brief stories of incidents and trials in the field, contributed by several dozen field researchers invited by the authors. Getting permits, finding accommodations and transportation, getting the equipment to work in the field, health and safety issues, care and feeding of field notes and data, and working with local communities, all warrant their own chapters in this format. There are useful recommendations of other sources to read. Several chapters have checklists of things to remember. While there are three authors and many tales of the field contributed by others, the writing is seamless and very readable. . . .All in all, I wish I had read this book before my first field project. . . .[T]he practical advice makes this a worthwhile investment for grad students who are planning their first fieldwork project. Experienced researchers will also likely pick up a tip or two, enough to warrant dipping into the volume before gifting it to their favorite student. * Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies *
Disasters in Field Research: Preparing for and Coping With Unexpected Events belongs in anthropology and field research collections alike and comes form veteran field scientists who consider the many possibilities of field research disasters, from gear and illness to politics, mishaps, and disastrous experiences that sometimes held solutions and often challenged their problem-solving skills. Suggestions, strategies, and lessons learned in the field accompany descriptions of these many different kinds of disasters, resulting in a coverage that should be assigned reading for any student scientist who would embark on field research. * Midwest Book Review *
Not only informative but also an engaging read, Disasters in Field Research offers practical advice for students and professionals alike. Having experienced the ups and downs of conducting international field research in multiple settings, I feel like this book was written for me. Yet, the authors transcend the idiosyncratic and unique nature of field research by offering case studies from different disciplines in which common disasters are experienced and addressed. In addition to emphasizing caution, care, and flexibility in the field to my students, I can now recommend that they read this book. -- David Himmelgreen, University of South Florida
This engaging book could easily be renamed 'everything you always wanted to know about the field but were afraid to ask'. It digs deep into the heart of anthropological research and provides an unflinching view of the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of field work. Perfect for students or veterans of the field, it is simultaneously informative, thoughtful, funny, and engrossing. -- Michaela Howells, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Disasters in Field Research is not only a valuable primer that every student doing field research should read, but also a tremendously entertaining collection of stories chronicling the unanticipated adventures, monumental challenges, and heartbreaking tragedies of people who have worked in field settings. The stories and situations are wonderfully varied-including human biology, ethnographic research among living communities, behavioral research with non-human primates, and more-yet woven into a highly readable and informative text that describes key topics and bureaucratic challenges of fieldwork. Readable, practical, and appropriate for undergraduates, graduate students, and professional scientists alike. -- J. Josh Snodgrass, University of Oregon
Ice, Dufour, and Stevens help new and veteran field scientists develop crucial professional skills in this deeply aware and thorough book. The authors cover research issues and constraints with a laudable reverence for doing things right; they highlight the permits, ethics, and safety measures which serve as boundary controls protecting researchers, participants, community members, and our various objects of study. This book is a welcome planning guide and model for principal investigators setting the culture of their field sites. -- Kathryn Clancy, University of Illinois

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