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Navigating the waves: the usefulness of a pilot in qualitative research

Sampson, Helen ORCID: 2004. Navigating the waves: the usefulness of a pilot in qualitative research. Qualitative Research 4 (3) , pp. 383-402. 10.1177/1468794104047236

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In line with a more reflexive approach in social science, particularly amongst ethnographers, authors increasingly report not just what they have found from a piece of research but how they have gone about doing it. Using a similar style this article considers the importance of pilot work in undertaking qualitative and ethnographic studies, prior to researcher immersion in the ‘field’. It offers an account of the author’s experiences of ‘cold’and total immersion in a fieldwork setting and uses a contrasting example of a funded and carefully developed pilot study using a variety of methods, in order to highlight the benefits of pilot work. In doing so it suggests that while pilots are not new to ethnographers they are under-discussed and to some extent under-utilized, perhaps as a consequence of methodological allegiances and a tendency to link pilots with more positivist approaches in social science. The article suggests that while pilots can be used to refine research instruments such as questionnaires and interview schedules they have greater use still in ethnographic approaches to data collection in foreshadowing research problems and questions, in highlighting gaps and wastage in data collection, and in considering broader and highly significant issues such as research validity, ethics, representation and researcher health and safety.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnography; maritime education and training; pilots; qualitative research methods; seafarers; ships.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1468-7941
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 09:11

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