The use of Observation and Photography in Academic Research
The workshop explores observation and photography in academic research. Although less widely adopted than a number of other research methods, both of these can offer new perspectives and insights. The workshop will begin by defining these methods in the context of qualitative research. Consideration will also be given to the different approaches that can be taken in applying each method, including in the role given to the subjects of the study. It will then consider a range of academic studies that have used observation or employed photography. Here participants will explore what distinguishes each of these methods from other approaches to the collection of qualitative data, and what their comparative strengths and weakness are. Informed by these insights, this part of the workshop will finish with participants reflecting on what method would be most applicable to their own research.
The second part of the session will start by exploring the concept of research design and how each of these approaches could be deployed to address a research question. Here consideration will be given to the preparation needed, including in terms of gaining permissions as well as addressing wider ethical issues. Attention will then turn to the data-gathering event itself, before the post fieldwork phase is explored. The latter will address data storage, as well as analysis and interpretation. The session will conclude by examining the role of the pilot study in developing an approach to using these particular methods, as well as exploring how observation and photography could be incorporated into a mixed methods approach.
By the end of this workshop, participants will:
Appreciate the role of observation and photography as methods of academic research
Have explored how these method have been used in previous research studies
Recognise the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each method
Have considered which method could be applied to their research project
Understand the key phases involved in conducting research using observation and photography
Have considered the role of the pilot study in developing an approach to the use of each of these methods, and how each could be used alongside other methods
Have gained an understanding of the importance of ethics in qualitative research and how these relate to the specifics of research involving observation and photography.