Questions to Ask about Field Sources
- Does your source seem biased or prejudiced? If so, is this bias or prejudice so strong that you have to discount some of the information?
- Have you compared different people's opinions or accounts? In general, the more viewpoints, the better.
- Does the information from your source agree with published accounts in print or Internet sources? If not, can you think of a good reason why this would be so?
- Is any of your evidence hearsay, one person telling you the thoughts of another or telling you about comments or actions that he or she hasn't witnessed? If so, can you support or discount your source's view by comparing it with other evidence?
- If an interviewee or questionnaire respondent has told you about past events, has time possibly distorted his or her memory?
- If you have tried to question a random sampling of people, do you feel that they are truly representative? If you have tried to question everyone in a group, have you been thorough enough?
- Have you identified the time, place, and participants in your field research?
- Do you have access to the source? Can you find the time to visit or contact the source to obtain the information you are seeking?
- Have you obtained permission to use information from someone you've interviewed, surveyed, or observed? Have you asked them whether you can use their names in your paper or whether they would prefer that you protect their confidentiality?