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Implications of observing and writing field notes through different lenses

Authors Hellesø R, Melby L, Hauge S

Received 3 February 2015

Accepted for publication 4 March 2015

Published 8 April 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 189—197

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S82107

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Ragnhild Hellesø,1 Line Melby,1 Solveig Hauge2

1Department of Nursing Science, Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; 2Faculty of Health and Social Studies, Telemark University College, Porsgrunn, Norway

Background: From a philosophy of science perspective, the literature has posited that different research approaches influence field studies. Studies addressing interdisciplinary research have focused on the challenges of organizing and running interdisciplinary teams, cultural differences between and within disciplines, and constraints in conducting interdisciplinary research. Studies exploring and discussing the process and outcome of transferring observations to notes from an interdisciplinary point of view are not identified. The aim of this paper is to explore the characteristics of field notes created by researchers representing different disciplines and experiences.
Methods: A case study using a modified dynamic observation method was employed. The analyses were initiated by a researcher who had not been involved in the data collection. The field notes were analyzed using three main steps.
Results: The structures of both researchers' field notes were characterized by similarities in their descriptions, but the notes' foci and analytical levels differed.
Conclusion: The findings contribute new insights concerning the execution of interdisciplinary observational studies. Our findings demonstrate that entering the field with different lenses produced richer and more varied data, providing a broader platform from which to discuss and interpret a study's findings. From a theoretical point of view, the findings enable a more nuanced discussion and a conceptual elaboration regarding how observational approaches should be pursued in future studies. On a practical level, the findings show that even if the researchers agree on what the overall focus in the observations should be, differences can occur in both their focus and analytical level throughout the study.
Keywords: field study, observational study, interdisciplinary lenses, interpretation, home care nursing


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