Doing Global Fieldwork: A Social Scientist's Guide to Mixed-Methods Research Far from Home

To do quality research, many social scientists must travel to far-flung parts of the world and spend long stretches of time living in places they find unfamiliar and uncomfortable. No matter how prepared researchers think they are, everyone encounters unexpected challenges in the course of their work in the field.

In Doing Global Fieldwork, the political scientist Jesse Driscoll offers a how-to guide for social scientists who are considering extended mixed-methods international fieldwork. He details the major steps in fieldwork planning and execution, from creating a plan, to what happens when political conditions throw up obstacles to research, to distilling and writing up research findings upon return. Driscoll emphasizes the ability to improvise and adapt because in the field, ideas will shift, plans will change, and something will inevitably go wrong. He offers a practical overview of the types of psychological and physical preparation, professionalization, and self-presentation that social scientists conducting research abroad need to prioritize. Driscoll describes the challenges that arise when working in difficult settings, such as war zones, areas of contested sovereignty, and volatile nondemocratic states. He explores the practical and ethical considerations for data collection in these unique situations, including whether and how much to reveal about one’s research and common psychological harms associated with fieldwork.

Doing Global Fieldwork is an up-to-date methodological guide for graduate students and social science researchers of all stripes who need blunt, no-nonsense advice about how to make the best of their time in the field.

The University of Chicago