Cautionary Tales

Being on field is an adventure in itself. All field missions are unique, bringing strange, funny, and on occasions disturbing anecdotes to help us learn and grow as researchers.
Pucho, magar dhyan se...!
Field work from a research perspective is often more complicated than one thinks. 

Appointment seeking, permission slips, mountains of paperwork, repeated enumerator training, coordination and so much more is also a major part of field work. However, it can all go to waste after one interaction. 

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Kar ke dikhayenge, haan bhai haan
Outline India conducted a study aimed at assessing the foundational literacy (Reading, Writing) & numeracy skills (Arithmetic Operations, Addition, Subtraction) of children in primary school across a couple of states = The researchers assumed that owing to complex mathematical calculations, the assessment on one child might take longer.

Expecting to see children hesitating and taking time if not struggling with calculations, the researchers were pleasantly surprised when they witnessed that without a moment's hesitation, the young students answered the questions rather quickly, and some even without needing a sheet of paper,

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Fear and Foe
Fearing strangers is a simple emotion to understand and sympathize with, but considering the same strangers as foe requires thinking deeply and assessing one’s actions.

There can be hostility on certain occasions and it can make one curious and uncomfortable at the same time. Our field team has experienced discomfort and unwelcoming stares from villages on many occasions but once the team explains their agenda and reasoning, their reservations are put to ease this was one such experience where we were practically rushed out of the village, almost on our hands and knees.

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Clear visuals are the key to successful surveys
We were conducting a field study with children wherein we had to show them a few placards and collect the necessary information. 

On the first day, we had the placards in our respective devices. As a result of limitations of size, the images were too small which led to utter confusion among children and unclear responses. 

From the following day onwards, we kept the placards in the form of flip charts in spiral-bound sheets for the children to be able to easily recognize the image and give prompt and clear responses. This technique also helped us in getting children to participate more enthusiastically in the survey since they found the pictures very attractive and thoroughly enjoyed looking at them. 

Lesson learned: Ensure that the means used for data collection are in a proper and understandable manner before starting any survey. 

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