Accepted Paper:

Analogue and digital obsolescence and other joys of managing fieldwork data  


Maryna Chernyavska (University of Alberta)

Paper short abstract:

It is our ethical and professional responsibility to have data collected in the field in the course of our research organized and accessible today and years later. This presentation will address challenges we encounter in the world of rapid technological changes, and offer possible solutions.

Paper long abstract:

Conducting fieldwork, whether in the digital world or in the more traditional physical space, leaves an ethnographer with a ton of data: most often, dozens (or, depending on the scope of the project, hundreds) of hours of interviews, photographs, field notes, sometimes video recordings and even accidental artifacts all of which form the body of our fieldwork data. This fieldwork data becomes the basis of and informs our scholarship. The most diligent of us transcribe our interviews full text, have people, places and events identified for all the photographs, and have our fieldwork collected over the years neatly organized. However, files collected in the field may be left behind in a rush to a new project, and overwhelming number of other obligations in our daily lives. And yet our fieldwork may have value beyond our own scholarship. It may be useful for other researchers in the future, for communities we study, for other multiple audiences that become users of folklore archives today. If it is our ethical and professional responsibility to have our data available and transparent, how do we make sure we can respond to the challenges brought by rapid technological changes? How do we describe and store our fieldwork data, so we and others can make sense of it years later? This presentation attempts to give practical answers to these challenges.

Panel Arch02
Keeping track of your field data [SIEF Working Group on Archives] [W]