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.
Gender-neutral? Not just yet

It was during an interview with a school principal, a well-respected man in the community. The respondent was all too happy to cooperate, answering our researcher’s questions at length. But in the middle of the interview, he paused and grabbed her hand, explaining that he holds the hands of disobedient children. But he didn’t let go.


She finished the interview, extracted her hand and left with her colleagues. But it shook us all up, an unnerving and unwelcome incident. For the remaining interviews, we asked a male field worker to accompany our female staff, and there were no more incidents. But as an organization, we do vehemently defend and uphold our independence and work towards making the development sector gender-neutral. This was a sad setback.

Read More
The loo that wasn’t

A loo isn’t supposed to be pretty but this one was. A bright yellow building, newly painted, it gleamed in the sun. The teacher who was guiding us pointed it out proudly – “that’s the girls’ toilets” she said.

Read More
Knock knock? Who’s there? No one!

Respondents don’t just stay at the field site – they move around over time. Especially in rural areas, members of the household often migrate to nearby cities or urban areas in search of work. But what happens when we are required to conduct a baseline, midline as well as an end-line study in the same location with the same respondents? You may not find your respondents in their home all year round. And this is exactly what happened to us!


We were conducting an end-line study in Rajasthan in November, but just couldn’t find the baseline respondents we had surveyed earlier. We knocked on their homes only to find from the family members that the original respondent had migrated either to Gujarat to harvest cotton or to Punjab to sow wheat.

Read More
Why you need that pre-test

“How do you clean your hands?”

“With mud”, he answered. 

“Could you show us?”

Read More

Newsletters