Writing Field Notes
Refers to notes created by the researcher during the act of qualitative fieldwork to remember and record the behaviors, activities, events, and other features of an observation setting. Field notes are intended to be read by the researcher to produce meaning and an understanding of the culture, social situation, or phenomenon being studied. The notes may constitute the whole data collected for a research study [e.g., an observational project] or contribute to it, as when field notes supplement conventional interview data.
HOW TO APPROACH WRITING FIELD NOTES
The ways in which you take notes during an observational study is very much a personal decision developed over time as one becomes more experienced in observing. However, all field notes generally consist of two parts:
CHARACTERISTICS OF FIELD NOTES
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE DESCRIPTIVE CONENT
ANALYSIS of your field notes should occur as they are being written and while you are conducting your observations. This is important for at least two reasons. First, preliminary analysis fosters self-reflection, and self-reflection is crucial for understanding and meaning-making in any research study. Second, preliminary analysis reveals emergent themes. Identifying emergent themes while observing allows you to shift your attention in ways that can foster a more developed investigation.
Writing Field Notes FAQ's:
Is there a specific format I should follow to record my field notes?
Not necessarily. Field notes can look different depending on who wrote them and the context they are in. Just make sure you understand the purpose of field notes, and that should guide you in what you are recording it and how you are recording it.
Is there a guide for what I should be looking for?
Yes. Click here for a general guide on what types of things to look for in a more traditional classroom setting. Keep in mind you need to check with your professor concerning the end goal of your field notes and any particular issues you will need to attend to.
Emerson, Robert M. et al. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011; Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Pace, Tonio. Writing Field Reports. Scribd Online Library; Pyrczak, Fred and Randall R. Bruce. Writing Empirical Research Reports: A Basic Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. 5th ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2005; Report Writing. UniLearning. University of Wollongong, Australia; Wolfinger, Nicholas H. "On Writing Fieldnotes: Collection Strategies and Background Expectancies.” Qualitative Research 2 (April 2002): 85-95; Writing Reports. Anonymous. The Higher Education Academy.
Taken from: http://libguides.usc.edu/content.php?pid=83009&sid=2559286