At the heart of design research is immersion: entering as fully as possible into a context to better understand its people and their environment.
Through ethnographic data collection, the team identifies the human needs, aspirations, motivations, and constraints that programs must design for, and the institutional capacities that will shape the program and enable its success.
Good data collection begins with the most basic tool of design research: the interview. There are dozens of methods and instruments available –– each study will use several for triangulation and validation –– but the in-depth interview is vital to most investigations. The skills that make a good interview are core to many different aspects of fieldwork.
In our project, we often asked open-ended questions to learn about effective ways for disseminating information to or collecting information from FATA communities.
These questions included: “How do you get information about your community? And about the world? How do you communicate with family and friends?” When faced with such open-ended questions, respondents would often look at us blankly. In that space of silence, researchers are tempted to follow up with possible answers: “Do you read the newspaper or listen to the radio for news? Do you call, text, or email your friends?” It’s only natural to want help when we see someone struggling or confused.
But embedded within these friendly suggestions are assumptions about the range of possible answers. These ‘helpful hints’ turned the open-ended questions they follow into leading ones, and bias their respondents. Illiterate respondents may nod in response to prompts, and say they read the newspaper. People that receive automated alerts from their mobile service provider may agree that they do indeed use SMS.
We worked hard to train researchers to resist the urge to offer possible responses, and to keep questions truly open. Those that succeeded were rewarded with answers they never could have imagined.
A practical guide for the researchers on the ground with tips, suggestions and guidelines on research methodologies.
A practical guide with key questions to be asked to consumers and producers of information.
Respondent Index Form filled by the researchers based on the interviews conducted each day.
A practical guide on how to use photography as an investigation tool, like observation, interviews, or user diaries.
Guidelines on notes taking and templates to record notes consistently.
The Security protocols and guides designed by the Internews Security officer on the ground. For security reasons this is not a public document. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org